Microsofts IE9 gathers pace

There was a lot of noise coming from the Microsoft camp when Internet Explorer 8 was launched. But the fact that it was soon announced that Microsoft was to start developing IE9 pretty much confirmed that IE8 wasn’t really as good as it should have been.

So what was Microsofts main improvements for IE9

There are three main areas that Microsoft have targeted to improve with IE9:

  1. Better support for HTML 5
  2. Better support for CSS3
  3. Increased speed

So how well are they doing?

Well, like Apple with the Safari browser. Microsoft have released a Test Drive demo website where users can preview the latest IE9 developments through demonstrations of three main areas: ‘Speed Demos’, ‘HTML 5 Demos’ and ‘Graphics Demos’.

In terms of CSS 3 suppport, Microsoft aim to have complete or near complete support for all CSS 3 selectors.

Speedwise, Microsoft have showcased a few demonstrations where IE9 is operating faster than Google’s Chrome browser, because it utilises a machines GPU. But this has recently been trumped by Firefox 3.7 which also utilises a machines GPU. But the final version of IE9 is not expected to be released until 2011, so there is a lot more development still to come – so the race for creating the fastest browser will continue.

So far IE9 has faired better in the Acid 3 test, which is used to measure how well a browser complies with defined web standards on the latest Acid 3 test Internet Explorer 9 scored 83/100. In comparison Firefox 3.6.6 manages 94/100 and with Opera, Safari and Chrome manage all achieving a 100/100 perfect score.

So are there any downsides to IE9?

One major issue is that IE9 will only run on Microsoft Vista (with SP2) and Windows 7. Microsoft has decided to ignore the world’s most popular operating system, Microsoft XP. But why?

The browser will not run on the Microsofts XP operating system, because IE9 will utilise Direct2D (introduced in Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Vista in SP2) to hardware-accelerate HTML 5- based features and 3D graphics. It will essentially move the graphical processing over to the computer’s GPU (Graphical Processing Unit). Microsofts XP operating system simple does not offer the DirectX APIs and the better security underpinnings that are found in Vista and Windows 7.

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