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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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RE: Journalism
By Fanon on 3/17/2010 10:48:35 AM , Rating: 2
I'm a web developer. Have been for over ten years. I said "Finally" when I read the spec support sheet.

I can speak for the entire web development community when I say "Finally". If you're not a web developer, then you have no idea how Microsoft has ignored key web standards support in their browser.

RE: Journalism
By whiskerwill on 3/17/2010 11:18:01 AM , Rating: 4
I'm a web developer, and Microsoft SET more standards than it ignored. Back when MS had 90%+ of the market, it was sheer stupidity for some random W3 appointees (most who hailed from MS competitors) to come along and set "standards" that in many cases, were no better than the way MS was already doing it, and were just designed to do them one in the eye.

Work in any presentation language other than HTML for a while, and you'll understand what a pathetic ball of band-aid tricks HTML is. And HTML5 really isn't any better.

RE: Journalism
By Chudilo on 3/17/2010 11:37:44 AM , Rating: 3
I'm sure you are a developer and I'm sure you are happy to see this, as I am. But the author of the article stated actual numbers
That must be what hundreds of veteran internet developers...

Unless he conducted an actual poll or have gotten opinions of "hundreds of veteran internet developers", he is not allowed to use numbers. He could've said something like "many" or "numerous". But if you use a number you can not just get that out of thin air. What's stopping him from saying millions or hundreds of millions, gazillions and so on.

RE: Journalism
By Fanon on 3/17/2010 12:22:10 PM , Rating: 2
I can't argue with your first statement. What we have today is, in large part, due to Microsoft. I also can't argue with what the W3C did was stupid by taking portions from, what was essentially Netscape, and make it standard.

But here's the thing. The W3C did do what it did, and all other browser makers incorporated standards support in their browsers. It wouldn't have been a big deal except a little browser called Firefox started picking up a decent sized market share and paved the way for Browser war 2.0: IE vs everyone else.

The market share size of non-IE browsers is large enough to warrant building websites and apps that work in all major browsers. It has been the Netscape 4 hell all over again, but this time with IE causing the headaches.

So it doesn't really matter what Microsoft did in the past for web standards - what matters is now. And right now, IE is behind the pack.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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