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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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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.


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