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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 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!

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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