Sometime in the coming days--perhaps even today--Microsoft will officially issue its near-final Release Candidate (RC) version of Internet Explorer (IE) 9 to the public. But in the days (hours?) before that release, a so-called "escrow" build of the IE 9 RC has leaked onto file sharing sites. (Thanks to Tom Warren of WinRumors for the tip.) So here's a quick look at this release in anticipation of a wider review of the actual RC, along with a few quick notes.

First of all, installation is a breeze, and occurs rather quickly. A reboot is required, of course, and during this process Windows installs the remaining pieces of the new browser offline, as it does with other system updates.

When you're back up and running, some differences between the RC and the earlier public Beta release are apparent. The tabs have been redesigned with a more modern, squared-off look. The Compatibility View, Refresh, and Stop buttons in the address bar have been redesigned. The navigation buttons, subtly, moved and resized. And even more subtly, the number of pixels used for the top browser chrome (or UI) have been reduced slightly. The new tab page has been redesigned a bit, with a new, cleaner background pattern. And so on.

There are more compelling changes in the IE 9 RC, of course, including an updated rendering engine, ActiveX filtering, the previously announced anti-tracking functionality, and more. But a closer examination of the big changes in the IE 9 RC will have to wait for the final, public build. See you then.