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Microsoft finally seems to be taking advanced web standards seriously


That must be what hundreds of veteran internet developers are saying since Microsoft is finally taking interest in embracing advanced web technologies.  After all, such technologies were typically driven by browsers with scant market share like Google Chrome or Opera, while Internet Explorer, the world's most used browser lagged far behind.  That meant that it was impractical for companies to take full advantage of the latest internet technologies, as few customers could actually use them.

At its annual Mix conference Microsoft showed that would change, unveiling a demo build of Internet Explorer 9, the successor to the widely used IE 7 and IE 8.  The demo included support for a host of HTML5 features; among them were h.264 embedded video (the kind that Google is using to trial HTML5 versions of YouTube) and embedded audio (with support for MP3/AAC codecs).

Microsoft is also supporting scalable vector graphics (SVG), an XML-driven webpage technology that's another hot topic.  SVG allows rudimentary drawings of things like lines or shapes.  In that respect, it's similar to some of the capabilities of Adobe's Flash.  With both SVG and HTML5 rendering, Microsoft is actually using DirectX video acceleration via the Direct2D API.  This means that Microsoft may actually be beating Google and others when it comes to these advanced standards, in terms of performance and speed.

Another important technology that Microsoft is supporting with IE 9 is CSS3.  Cascading style sheets (CSS) allow you to tweak your webpage presentation (how pretty your fonts look) by simply tweaking style variables.  Among the CSS3 features inside IE 9 are Selectors, Namespaces, Color, Values, Backgrounds, Borders, and fonts.

Microsoft is also packing a faster Javascript engine under the hood of IE 9.  In tests, the new engine is rather respectable -- about as fast as Firefox's script engine.  It still lags behind the Opera and Webkit (Google and Apple) engines, but it's not even a release build yet, so that's pretty respectable performance nonetheless.

But the best part of Microsoft's announcement is that you can try the browser for yourself.  It's available for download in preview form here.  Beware the preview is only geared at developers and there's no address bar (you have to go to the "Page" menu for that.

And another word of warning -- IE 9 won't support Windows XP, though.  That's really not that surprising if you think about it, but it may be a bit of a shock to some.

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Discontinue anything under IE8
By Shig on 3/17/2010 9:30:54 AM , Rating: 5

RE: Discontinue anything under IE8
By danobrega on 3/17/2010 9:33:58 AM , Rating: 2
Yep. It would make much more sense to support XP but discontinue earlier versions. For web developers having to support versions 5, 6, 7, 8 and now 9, and all the other browsers is just crazy.

RE: Discontinue anything under IE8
By amanojaku on 3/17/2010 10:00:56 AM , Rating: 2
Are you kidding? Supporting an OS is much more difficult than supporting a web browser, and MS does not support anything older than IE7. So, the burden is on developers to support browsers, and anyone supporting IE6 and older is the reason we're stuck in Internet limbo. Those machines running IE5 and 6 can upgrade to IE7 or 8, and for less than $200 they can just move to Win7.

By symbiosys on 3/17/2010 6:47:54 PM , Rating: 5
Are you kidding? Supporting an OS is much more difficult than supporting a web browser, and MS does not support anything older than IE7. So, the burden is on developers to support browsers, and anyone supporting IE6 and older is the reason we're stuck in Internet limbo. Those machines running IE5 and 6 can upgrade to IE7 or 8, and for less than $200 they can just move to Win7.

I have been a front end web dev for nearly 4 years. I have only of late ditched all efforts of supporting anything below IE7. I just simply have a script tells the user to upgrade their browser and list all the current browsers if they are using an unsupported version. I'm over having to make style-sheet variations/fixes for every freakn' version of IE.

RE: Discontinue anything under IE8
By MrPoletski on 3/17/2010 10:17:03 AM , Rating: 3
Just leave users of old browsers behind, they'll soon upgrade one way or another.

RE: Discontinue anything under IE8
By Souka on 3/17/2010 11:44:06 AM , Rating: 5
When 51.8% (source of the PC computer market uses Windows XP, it's a big deal

RE: Discontinue anything under IE8
By LCS2009 on 3/17/2010 9:00:49 PM , Rating: 4
The real challengue would be if other competitors (google chrome, firefox) does support XP with all enhacenments and IE9 does not... They will lose marketshare...

By MrPoletski on 3/19/2010 5:45:33 AM , Rating: 2
Tough luck for them then.

Survival of the fittest.

By marvdmartian on 3/18/2010 9:04:01 AM , Rating: 1
We'll send all the crying grannies still using IE6 on AOL over to your house. ;)

RE: Discontinue anything under IE8
By bigi on 3/17/10, Rating: -1
RE: Discontinue anything under IE8
By StraightCashHomey on 3/17/2010 10:41:20 AM , Rating: 5
Work in IT and then ask the same question.

RE: Discontinue anything under IE8
By Souka on 3/17/2010 11:50:56 AM , Rating: 2
No doubt.... last three companies I"ve worked at (in two years) are barely beginning Win7 deployments and testing.


No significant benifit and lots of software compatibility issues.

I'm currently heading a Win7 testing group at my company. Win7 32-bit does have a few issues with some of our older software/hardware, but the real bitch is the 64bit flavor.

Don't get me wrong... I like Win7 myself, but the real advantage I look forward to is 64bit OS and more memory for the users. XP 64bit is fine, but no where nearly as supported as Win7 64bit. Vista 64bit...'s Vista..

Anyhow... happy happy, joy joy... change is coming... more job insurance for me!

RE: Discontinue anything under IE8
By LCS2009 on 3/17/2010 8:58:15 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but I think that big step between 32bit and 64bit is because regular consumers face NOW the current "forced-move-to-64bits" situation because of RAM memory and technology moving forward... so it doesn't matter when this will happend°°, it could have been suffered years ago if most of people have moved to 64 bits...

RE: Discontinue anything under IE8
By gamerk2 on 3/17/10, Rating: 0
RE: Discontinue anything under IE8
By Denigrate on 3/17/10, Rating: 0
By tallcool1 on 3/17/2010 11:48:03 AM , Rating: 5
Reality is that most people use the computer for Internet surfing, basic office tasks and email. That kind of system is more than adaquate for these tasks.

Also, if MS wants to kill of the old browsers faster, then they would adopt IE9 to windows XP as the majority of people still run this OS. If you force the hand by not having XP support, then people will just continue to use their old versions of IE or maybe switch to Firefox or another 3rd party.

RE: Discontinue anything under IE8
By Belard on 3/17/2010 11:03:42 PM , Rating: 1
But once XP is patched up with SP3, it starts to bog down with the 300~400mb of compressed update patches.

My notebook came with XP (vista was not something I wanted) and it ran better than newer and faster vista notebooks. But putting Windows7 on it, and wow it smokes XP and vista.

And when it comes to P4s, those CPU/systems were always slow.

XP still has a good few years left. Its amazing that IE9 won't support XP... but many people are upgrading their OSes and buying new computers. Todays $400 computers are easily 3-5x faster than the Pentium4 or even PentiumEEs from 2006 and older.

By danobrega on 3/17/2010 11:08:39 AM , Rating: 4
It is not us that work on XP, it's our clients. Can't do much about that. And it is easier to make them upgrade the browser version than the operating system. ;)

RE: Discontinue anything under IE8
By nafhan on 3/17/2010 10:06:42 AM , Rating: 2
Sadly, I think that they have to continue to support IE6 at some level until they completely discontinue support for XP since IE6 was the browser version at release.
Just a thought, but could they be in a position where IE6 will be supported longer than IE9? IE6, 7, and 8 were all released alongside OS updates, and conceivably will have to be supported as long as their corresponding OS's (2014 for XP). IE9 will be the first standalone browser release in a while, and it will therefore be much easier for them to just say "upgrade to IE10".

RE: Discontinue anything under IE8
By Omega215D on 3/17/2010 10:16:18 AM , Rating: 1
Can't, too many businesses still rely on the old IE browsers and are too lazy to move to update. Yeah I said lazy because IE7 and IE 8 have been out for how long now? Not to mention the major security enhancements that were introduced with those browsers.

By MrPoletski on 3/17/2010 10:17:58 AM , Rating: 2
Can, because screw 'em.

Their lazy attitude will be the end of them then.

RE: Discontinue anything under IE8
By WW102 on 3/17/2010 3:52:45 PM , Rating: 2
Its not about being lazy its about money. Lots of legacy software doesnt work properly on the newer browers. The option would be to used older browers or pay to upgrade the software just to use the "latest" browers.

Maybe the government should subsidize the cost to upgrade software and browsers. Joking of course....

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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