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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 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,


"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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