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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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By MrPoletski on 3/17/2010 10:21:16 AM , Rating: 2
My company is stuick on XP because the software we use to talk to our systems runs on XP. Nobody has bothered updating that software yet for vista/win7 (not that it couldn't be run on a XP VM under win7 tho).

A kick up the butt is what our corp would need to rectify this situation and a kick up the butt would be welcome from a grunt on the front line such as myself.

By gamerk2 on 3/17/2010 10:48:58 AM , Rating: 2
My corp uses software written a good 15 years ago in 16-bits, so there is no way to run on anything higher then XP).

We use a 16-bit telnet connection for secure communication between sites, so we can't run anything higher then XP

The standard PC here is a P4 2.2 GHz, which is far too weak to run anything higher then XP.

The average amount of RAM is 128MB DDR, which is far too weak to run anything higher then XP.

As for GPU, most of us have old ATI Rage 128's (if we're lucky), which again, can't run anything higher then XP.

Your argument is basically for the coorporation to spend several million to replace almost every single PC in use, spend thousands of man-hours re-writing software that works as is (nevermind testing), all for a new OS that does...what exactly?

So please stop it.

By f4tb0y on 3/17/2010 11:09:26 AM , Rating: 4
what is your corporation going to do when all that old hardware starts failing? Seems to me that you should have some systems in place to start an upgrade rollout

By rudolphna on 3/17/2010 11:13:14 AM , Rating: 2
You're all going to be SOL when microsoft stops supporting XP. Corporations have had to upgrade in the past, and they will have to do it again. In the long run the companies would save money. New computers are more efficent, (Pentium 4 anyone?) and can do alot more work. If they are too cheap to upgrade and get software rewritten to work, instead of clinging to ancient software.. Well, that is their problem.

By Luticus on 3/17/2010 11:17:43 AM , Rating: 4
I shudder when I think about how secure your network must be.

Your company should do what most companies do and get on a refresh cycle. replace 1/4 - 1/3 of your systems every year or so.

Unless your company is THAT small in which case you shouldn't have THAT many computers to upgrade... it's their own fault for falling THAT far behind... 128MB RAM... you should be on Win98 with specs like that!

As for what Windows Vista/7 have to offer the list of pros is quite long and very nice. If none of it is compelling enough for you that's fine, I'm not trying to convince you otherwise. I just wanted to point out that your argument is a terrible one that hopefully no one would listen too.

After upgrading my entire home network (10+) computers/servers to Windows 7/Server 08 my network is faster, more efficient, more secure, and offers more features. so there are reasons to upgrade if they appeal to you. Back in the good old days Windows 98 worked just fine too... we upgraded because Windows XP worked better.

If you want to use Windows XP till the end of time, that's your deal. Personally, I can understand why Microsoft doesn't want to support 10 year old technology anymore.

If everyone thought like that we'd still be stuck in the stone age.

By SavagePotato on 3/17/2010 11:45:01 AM , Rating: 3
Though not in a corporate setting I remember dealing with a small business owner in a situation such as this once.

He had all of his tills run off a pre-Pentium system running Dos, with a dot matrix printer for receipt printing. He had it since the mid 90's and it was set up by a company that no longer existed who specifically built till setups for businesses. This was in something like 2006 or 2007.

So the whole thing was connected with some monstrous scsi card that was quite likely dead, and the guy calls and is standing there tapping his foot thinking as though I will be waving my magic tech wand and making this ancient custom built Dos 6.2 run mess come to life again. Dropping the ever important business owner phrases such as "I can't be down at all, this has to work now"

He was SOL and had to get a whole new till solution in place since there was nothing I could do for him, nor did I have the resources or anything resembling a want to replace his till system for him.

By Luticus on 3/17/2010 2:05:47 PM , Rating: 2
I can relate to this as i have a buddy who owns an electronics shop and he also uses old systems, though more current than the one you mentioned. His set up is so bad that (despite my warnings) he actually uses his server as a standard workstation... BAD!!!!

The sad part is how common these practices are. Companies try to save a buck by never upgrading and then they cry about it when their infrastructure breaks down and they get a million viruses because their systems are ridiculously vulnerable. Then they wonder why nothings ever comparable with their older network and why they have a tech labor bill that's through the roof! All that wasted energy and money could have been put towards staying current and then problems like these could be avoided.

The beauty of the refresh cycle is you only replace your oldest components every so often so that you always have only a small part of the entire bill. When companies let their old tech build up, however, there's no avoiding a total refresh years ahead when $h17 finally hits the fan!

By gamerk2 on 3/17/2010 12:09:20 PM , Rating: 2
ITT is hardly a small company; just a top 10 defense firm with several hundred million in government contracts.

Look at it this way: We upgrade hardware, it comes from your taxes. We upgrade the software [that we havn't touched in 15 years], thats also paid for on taxpayer dollars [nevermind the military would have to spend untold millions more to re-certify everything...]. Everything we do, we need to be paid for. And Uncle Sam is the one paying us for our work. Get it?

So yeah, I'd say that a pretty convincing argument. Unless you don't mind the Billion dollars it would take to make a XP-Vista move...

By Luticus on 3/17/2010 1:55:51 PM , Rating: 2
I can understand where you're coming from to a point. I currently work for my county government as an IT professional and every time we buy something it also comes from tax payer money. However, we are still on a refresh cycle where every year we typically replace 1/3 of our county network.

What I'm saying is had the company you mentioned stayed on top of staying current with technology they'd be in a much smaller mess than they are now. When we make the move to Windows 7 it will be relatively painless because all of our computers can run it and 90%+ of our software will work on it. We are actually in the middle of testing for a move to Windows 7 and we'll probably either roll it out after this fall or maybe with our next PC refresh in Jan 2011 if it gets delayed for some reason.

By Dailey on 3/17/2010 2:43:07 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft Windows XP will end-of-life in regards to security updates on or about April 14, 2014.

If Microsoft follows prior patters, that 2014 date will be extended several years.

Windows XP is stable, it is tried, it is true. Windows XP is paid for, the applications are paid for, the hardware is paid for, it is familiar to all, and all the training has long since taken place.

You do not need to change your computer platform every few years any more than you need to buy a new refrigerator, stove, oven or car every few years. Sure - some people do buy a new car every few years - but most of us can spend our money better elsewhere, particularly if we make careful choices in the first place.

There is no hurry to rush into Windows VISTA or Windows 7 or IE 7, 8 or 9. Windows 7 might become of interest in several years as it matures - the same goes for the many editions of IE.

Everything in XP works. It ain't broke. There is nothing to fix.

We will begin to seriously consider alternatives to Windows XP in the April 2012 time frame - giving us one year to think our way through issues, and then a second year to implement (at least).

We will not even consider any Windows OS that is not at it's SP2 stage prior to April, 2013.

We have no reason to even think about evaluating any other Windows OS until 2012. To do so, we would only be wasting our time.

Time that we are using instead to evaluate where Linux or Apple might also fit into our strategies. And to continue to work out security issues: security issues that will be with us with Windows XP, Windows VISTA, Windows 7, and Windows whatever - security concerns are not going to go away.

No need to chase the latest Windows OS or Microsoft IE version - like a dog running qaround in circles chasing its own tail.

Best regards,


By Hoser McMoose on 3/18/2010 7:01:35 AM , Rating: 2
Time that we are using instead to evaluate where Linux or Apple might also fit into our strategies.

If you don't like Windows because of Microsoft's support and life cycle policies you're going to HATE Apple!

Microsoft supports their products for CONSIDERABLY longer than Apple or any Linux distribution. Microsoft also clearly lays out how long they will support their software (as do some Linux distributions) while with Apple it's entirely unwritten policy and vagueries.

From past experience Apple releases a new version of OS X roughly once every 1.5 years. After the new version is released they stop adding new features to the old version and stop releasing security fixes for the previous version about within about 1 year.

So, for example, OS X 10.6 was released last summer. OS X 10.5 is likely to get it's last new feature upgrades this summer (less than 3 years after it's release) and OS X 10.4 is likely to be completely EOLed (no more security fixes) at about the same time (roughly 5 years after release. Exactly what these dates will be is anyone's guess.

With Windows XP, on the other hand, new features were discontinued April 14, 2009 (8 years after it's release) and security updates will be discontinued April 4th, 2014 (13 years after it's release). Vista Business will get new features up until April 10, 2012 and security fixes up until April 11, 2017. For Windows 7 Professional it'll be Jan. 13, 2015 and Jan. 14, 2020 respectively.

As you might have noticed Microsoft documents this things somewhat better.

By Dailey on 3/19/2010 9:33:42 PM , Rating: 2
If you don't like Windows because of Microsoft's support and life cycle policies you're going to HATE Apple!

Been there. Done that. ;-)

I kept a business going that used some Mac software in the 1994-2005 timeframe. The software was excellent. The machines were excellent. However, our Macintosh vendors were always trying to get us to beta-test their latest and greatest software for them - lots of pressure - and to completely upgrade every three years or so. They were very heavy-handed - constant churning. Of course, if you did upgrade, the computers and the printers and keyboards and mice and software and such would all have to be replaced. I did not see that we would benefit in this in any way - only they would benefit.

I did take things from MacOS 7.1, Update 3 - to MacOS 7.5.5 - to MacOS 8.6 - through MacOS 9.2.2 - but that was at our own pace, about three years behind their cutting edge. Well after all bugs were worked out. MacOS 10.0 - then new and slow and unstable - a slow, costly Unix clone with a GUI - just made me look to Linux - i.e., a fast, free Unix clone with a GUI. After comparing Linux and MacOS X, I blocked any upgrade path toward MacOS X and ran out all the MacOS 9.2.2 software and hardware through 2005.

From past experience Apple releases a new version of OS X roughly once every 1.5 years. After the new version is released they stop adding new features to the old version and stop releasing security fixes for the previous version about within about 1 year.

Thank you for the heads-up. It sounds like things have gotten worse since we stopped using Apple products.

It is these sorts of antics that keep business from using Apple over the long term. Apple knows this well - their niche is the consumer space, where latest and greatest win out over the long, hard slog. And Apple does latest and greatest very, very well.

Microsoft supports their products for CONSIDERABLY longer than Apple or any Linux distribution. Microsoft also clearly lays out how long they will support their software (as do some Linux distributions) while with Apple it's entirely unwritten policy and vagueries.

Our Linux experience has worked out well for where Linux can be used. Upgrades are unpressured, easy to accomplish, free, and do not obsolete any hardware or software. More software becomes available year by year. Hardware compatibility improves, year by year, as well.

Of the three operating system environments, in my experience, Macintosh has been the worst when it comes to "forced upgrades" - Microsoft has been middlin' - and it has not been an issue in Linux.

Security is an issue we consider, as well.

I still favor looking at all three systems in 2012 - and making decisions based on the merits at that time. If Macintosh is still putting its users on a forced upgrade treadmill at that time - which I suspect is in Macintosh's core DNA - we will largely pass Macintosh by.

In the 2012-2014 timeframe, overpowered multicore machines will be inexpensive, SSDs will be mature and inexpensive, Windows 7 should be at the SP2-SP3 level and have at least a 6-8 year future, and most Windows software will have mature updates for Windows 7. It will be a good time to then upgrade all Microsoft machines for at least a 6-8 year period - or longer, depending on the final security EOL of Windows 7 SP3. And then we will go through the process once more.

Shifting more towards Linux between and with each Windows upgrade cycle as more Linux software becomes available.

No hurry to be first to upgrade. We prefer, actually, to be last

The tortoise wins the race.

Textsecurity updates will be discontinued April 4th, 2014 (13 years after it's release).

One reads different dates. April 8, 2014 is also commonly quoted. A web search for "Windows XP SP3 EOL 2014" will bring up anything from "April 2014" to "August 4, 2014." Take your pick.

Every time I think that I have the date right, I soon read a different date.

Most focus on April, 2014. I think we will have a more definitive date as the exact day approaches. If Microsoft follows its prior patterns, the date will get extended by a year or two as the actual date approaches.

Best regards,


By mdbrotha on 3/17/2010 3:04:01 PM , Rating: 2
That's interesting considering the Army post I am stationed has a yearly upgrade cycle. We try to do 1/3 of the PC's each year. Each of those PCs comes with a 3 year warranty. So by the time the warranty has ended, the computer gets replaced. We have completely moved to Windows Vista, for its enhanced security.

By gamerk2 on 3/18/2010 7:46:24 AM , Rating: 2
But in our world, thats not a possibility.

Remember, we work directly with software that has been developed in some cases over 30 years, and is known stable. After pouring hundreds of billions into some of these programs, do you REALLY thing anyone wants to mess with things now just to allow functionallity with a new OS? We still have VAX computers and even a legacy 3.1 machine for this very reason, as no one wants to re-write 30 years of software code that is in a known state and is used as a basline against new revisions.

Besides, a lot of our equipment requires direct acess to hardware, which went the way of the Dodo even in XP. We have a lot of 98SE machines around for that reason (anyone remember those serial port keys? Yeah, those don't work in XP, making the HW that requires them unusable).

Now, if you don't mind an extra Billion in government debt, and a total freeze on SW development for the US military while we rebuild and test the software in all possible configurations, then goodie. Otherwise, we're stuck.

And I note: Our secure network isn't connected to the Internet. I also note, we have about 3-4 hardware firewalls between us and our public network anyways. If you rely on the OS for security, then of course you'll have problems.

By tmouse on 3/18/2010 8:16:20 AM , Rating: 2
So please tell us why are you even posting to this article? By your own statements you are NOT connected to the internet. Why pray tell do you even care about IE9? None of its features will be of any real use to you. Stay with what you have, your system is pretty much set in stone at this time. The problem is when (NOT IF) your system starts to go it will pretty much be a cascading system failure and everything you do will come to a screaming halt. That will cost 10-100 times the cost to get running on newer hardware with emergency hardware replacements and software re-writes which as you point out will probably not be as stable due to the rush needed to get things up. It's a recipe for disaster. Being a bit proactive saves a fortune compared to being totally reactive which is the path your company seems to be taking. Pretending nothing will ever stop working is simply foolish. I sincerely hope you are simply unaware of what steps your company is really doing. If they are maintaining cost competitiveness by remaining on an increasingly aging hardware and software infrastructure with no plans to change till the crap hits the fan they are not doing the taxpayers any favors.

By Etsp on 3/17/2010 1:18:17 PM , Rating: 2
Can you please explain how a protocol that sends the username and password in PLAIN TEXT can be described as secure?

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