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Microsoft finally seems to be taking advanced web standards seriously

"Finally!"

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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RE: Discontinue anything under IE8
By gamerk2 on 3/17/2010 10:44:39 AM , Rating: 0
How exactly is XP dead? Is still the fastest M$ OS for home use and business use, due to low hardware requirements. XP works, and for those one a P4 2.2 GHz office PC, whats the argument for updating?


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.


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