All posts tagged ‘IE’

File Under: Browsers, HTML5

New Hardware-Accelerated IE9 Preview Arrives

Nothing fishy about IE9's hardware acceleration: This demo shows an animated fish tank rendered using Canvas.


Microsoft has released Internet Explorer 9 platform preview 3, the latest pre-release version of the company’s next web browser.

Curious developers running Windows can download platform preview 3 starting Wednesday afternoon. This version of IE9 features expanded support for specific HTML5 elements that can take advantage of the browser’s new hardware-acceleration abilities.

“Most computing tasks on the web only take up 10 percent of the PC’s capabilities,” Microsoft’s Ryan Gavin said at a press event Wednesday. “We want to unlock that other 90 percent.”

The new IE9 platform preview has expanded support for HTML5′s native video and audio capabilities, as well as expanded support for the Canvas element.

“Showing how well we handle these HTML5 elements is the point of this release,” says Microsoft’s Rob Mauceri.

Microsoft has taken a fair bit of heat in the browser world for being slow to adopt HTML5. Though not yet finalized, the emerging specification is already widely supported by Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari. Microsoft’s current version of Internet Explorer, IE8, is woefully behind these other browsers when it comes to support for HTML5 and other standards like CSS 3.

With IE9, due around the end of the year, the company hopes to get back on the right path.

Microsoft has engineered this version of the browser to take advantage of the latest multicore processors and GPU chips shipping in the newest hardware. Several of Microsoft’s hardware partners — AMD, Asus, NVidia and Dell — were on hand with their newest, fastest machines at the press event to show the browser preview running through some Microsoft-built demos.

The company first showed off a hardware-accelerated preview of IE9 at a developer event last year, and then upped those capabilities with the second platform preview in May. But Wednesday’s release of IE9 has some updated code to access the hardware and an updated JavaScript engine to make scripted animations smoother.
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File Under: Browsers, HTML5

Google Updates Chrome Frame Add-On for Internet Explorer

Google has released a significant update to its controversial Chrome Frame, an Internet Explorer plug-in that replaces the default IE rendering engine with the engine that powers Google’s Chrome browser.

Chrome Frame essentially embeds Google’s browser inside any tab or window within Internet Explorer. It forces IE to load a website using the same WebKit rendering engine as Google Chrome, complete with its enhanced JavaScript rendering and support for HTML5 technologies like embedded audio and video.

Previously only available as a “developer preview,” the new version of Chrome Frame has been updated to beta status. Chrome Frame’s underlying code has also been updated to match the Chrome 5 browser, which means Chrome Frame can now handle more HTML5 features like better audio and video playback, Canvas animations, geolocation, Web Workers, WebSocket connections and offline databases.

Chrome Frame now also integrates with IE more closely, meaning that the add-on now works with IE’s InPrivate browsing mode, and that clearing cookies and cache in IE will now also clear out the same elements in Chrome Frame.

If you’re stuck with IE 6 at work, but you want to see the latest and greatest the web has to offer, Chrome Frame makes for a decent solution. The only downside to Chrome Frame is that it will only be triggered on websites that have explicitly enabled it using a special meta tag. Of course, all of Google’s sites are on that short list, so you can at least experience some cool cutting-edge stuff like drag-and-drop in Gmail, geolocation in Google Maps, or real-time communication in Google Wave.

Despite the fact that Chrome Frame does not just take over IE, Google’s add-on is not without some degree of controversy. Back when Chrome Frame was first announced, Mozilla’s vice president of engineering, Mike Shaver, warned against the idea, arguing that the Chrome plug-in for IE muddles the user’s understanding of browser security, and in the end will create more confusion and little benefit.

So far those fears haven’t come to pass, but now that Chrome Frame is a beta release, it may begin to see wider use.

Shaver’s main argument — that simply telling users to switch browsers is far better strategy — is still undeniably the best solution. After all, if you’re savvy enough to know about and install Chrome Frame, you’re most likely savvy enough to just upgrade IE or switch to a better browser. But even the most recent version of Internet Explorer, version 8, doesn’t have the same level of capability as Chrome, and Chrome Frame gives IE users an opportunity to play around on the bleeding edge.

Also, there’s a subset of users who need IE 6 for legacy corporate intranets and applications, but also need to interact with today’s web. Given that several Google services — like Google Apps and Google Reader — no longer support IE 6, the day is fast approaching where Chrome Frame will be the only option for those still locked into IE 6 who want to use the newest web apps.

If you’re one of those people, head over to grab the latest version of Chrome Frame.

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Internet Explorer 9 Shows Up Faster, But Still Lacking

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Microsoft has announced more details about Internet Explorer 9 the next version of the company’s much-maligned, but still dominant web browser. The highlights for IE’s update include much-needed performance improvements, hardware acceleration for graphics, as well as support for a number of new HTML5 elements and CSS 3 features.

If you’d like to take the developer preview version of IE 9 for a spin, head over to Microsoft’s new IE 9 website.

Of course with any new IE release, there is some inevitable disappointment, and IE9 is no exception — like it’s predecessors, IE9 is playing catch up rather than pushing the web browser envelope.

While there is reason to be excited about IE9, the browser is just as notable for what’s missing, namely features Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari are already shipping — the HTML5 Canvas element, support for HTML5 Web Workers and open web font support. Open web advocates will also be disappointed to here that IE9 will support the H.264 video codec instead of Ogg Theora. H.264 is a patented video technology (the same used by Flash), but Ogg Theora is believed to be unencumbered by patents, which is why open web advocates prefer it.

The H.264 news is especially disappointing given that speed at which IE updates, or rather doesn’t update. Web developers now know that, even if a better, more open and free video codec comes along, they’ll most likely have to support H.264 anyway since IE rarely releases updates at the speed of the web.

But rather than dwelling on what IE9 doesn’t do, let’s concentrate on the good news.

Based on what we’ve seen at this stage, IE9 is much, much faster than IE8 thanks to improvements in IE’s rendering engine. IE9 will also include a new JavaScript engine that puts the browser on par with script performance in Safari 4, Chrome 4 and Opera 10.5. Although all four other browsers are still marginally faster, IE 9 eliminates one the biggest gripes about IE 8 — it’s dog slow.

In other words, while IE9 still isn’t top dog in the speed race, at least it will have a somewhat respectable spot in the browser pack.

Also welcome news is IE9′s intention to support much of the CSS 3 spec, including advanced CSS selectors, fonts, colors, rounded corners and borders. As far as we’ve been able to discover, CSS 3 transitions and transformations are not part of IE 9.

Microsoft is also touting IE9′s “hardware accelerated” HTML5 capabilities. However, in our testing, IE9 was not significantly faster or smoother rendering the demo page on Microsoft’s site than were Firefox, Safari or Opera. Google Chrome does, however, completely fall apart on that particular demo page.

More good news in IE9 can be found in the hardware-accelerated SVG rendering, which, similar to what is available in beta version of Firefox, promises to improve native SVG graphics.

Sadly, the SVG support also highlights what many already consider the biggest oversight in IE9 — no support for the HTML5 Canvas tag. Lacking support for the canvas tag, which can be used to display SVG-based animations, IE9′s SVG support is considerably less appealing to web developers.

Of course, given that the canvas tag (along with the video tag) is essentially designed to get rid of the need for the Flash and Silverlight plug-ins, it isn’t to surprising that Microsoft is in no hurry to drive any nails into Silverlight’s coffin.

It was also announced that IE9 will not work with Windows XP. Given that Vista and Windows 7 have been out for some time, not supporting XP isn’t entirely surprising, but it’s still disappointing — especially since Windows XP remains a popular option on netbooks.

Provided you’re not using Windows XP and you’d like to help make IE9 better, you can head over to the IE Platform Preview for developers and download your copy today.

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File Under: Browsers, HTML5

Microsoft to Double Down on HTML5 With Internet Explorer 9

With the latest releases of Opera, Google Chrome and Firefox continuing to push the boundaries of the web, the once-dominant Internet Explorer is looking less and less relevant every day.

But we should expect Microsoft to go on the offensive at its upcoming MIX 2010 developer conference in Las Vegas, where, it has been speculated, the company will demonstrate the first beta builds of Internet Explorer 9 and possibly offer a preview release of the browser to developers. Several clues point to the possibility that the next version of IE will include broad support for HTML5 elements, vector graphics and emerging CSS standards. If Microsoft plays its cards right in Vegas, IE 9 could be the release that helps IE get its groove back in the web browser game.

The biggest clue comes from the scheduled sessions for MIX, which takes place mid-March. There’s a two-part talk scheduled on HTML5, entitled HTML5 Now: The Future of Web Markup Today, by Opera Software’s Molly Holzschlag.

Indeed, Holzschlag tells Webmonkey she expects Microsoft to step up HTML5 support in IE9. “Look especially for Microsoft to be working on browser storage and other HTML5 features,” she said in an e-mail.

There’s also a session on IE and SVG, the vector graphics tools supported by pretty much every other browser. IE Senior Program Manager Patrick Dengler is scheduled to present on the Future of Vector Graphics for the Web.

Couple these clues with a post from the IE team on its official blog late last year about increased JavaScript rendering speeds and CSS support, and the team’s recent push to provide better support for SVG graphics and animations, it looks like IE 9 will present a huge step forward for Microsoft into the realm of HTML5, CSS 3 and other modern technologies that drive the most forward-thinking web apps.

Such a shift in thinking would be welcome. Picking on Internet Explorer Explorer is like fishing with dynamite — it’s just too easy to be fun anymore. In fact, many prominent forces on the web have stopped arguing against IE and simply started waving their hands in dismissal. It started with a few developers, but recently even Google has turned up its nose at IE, referring to it as a “non-modern” browser when talking about web standards and releasing its Chrome Frame plug-in to enable IE7 and IE8 users to run more advanced web apps. Worse, third-party developers have started to one-up Microsoft by hacking features into IE, like giving it the ability to display HTML5 video playback when none existed.

The current release, IE8, which shipped on every Windows 7 desktop in 2009, caught Microsoft up to where other browsers were in 2007 with support for CSS 2.1 and a couple of token HTML5 tools — most notably the offline storage elements. But that’s where its support for emerging standards ends.

At PDC09, Microsoft’s last big developer event, president of the Windows division Steven Sinofsky promised that Internet Explorer 9 was going to offer a “more modern” (there’s that word again) browsing experience and emphasized coming improvements in performance, JavaScript rendering, support for existing web standards and support for HTML5 and CSS 3.

But Sinofsky tempered his statements by saying Microsoft will continue to be “responsible” about how much it supports HTML5, so that “we don’t generate a hype cycle for things that aren’t there yet across the board for developers to take advantage of.”

While Microsoft is technically correct when it keeps saying that HTML5 isn’t finished, its failure to offer broad support for the new markup language has held IE back from the web’s cutting edge. The company has traditionally been reticent to support emerging standards, viewing them as a moving target and choosing only to concentrate on standards that have been ratified by the W3C, the web’s governing body. But delays at the W3C haven’t stopped the competition from forging ahead with HTML5, and if IE doesn’t start embracing the new laws of the land now, the browser’s dominance on the web is going to continue to crumble.

We contacted a Microsoft rep for this story, but they chose to save any further talk of IE9 until MIX.

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File Under: Browsers, HTML5, Multimedia

Developer Gives Internet Explorer the Gift of HTML5 Video

Internet Explorer lags well behind its rivals when it comes to supporting the latest emerging web standards.

Not only is that bad for IE’s users, but Microsoft, once an innovator (one of the single most useful standards for today’s web, XMLHttpRequest, began life at Microsoft), isn’t even part of the discussion any more.

We’re hoping to see Microsoft become relevant again when details about IE 9 arrive later this year, but in the mean time it seems the web is doing its best to pick up Microsoft’s slack.

Take, for example, HTML5 video, which has been making waves lately with YouTube, Vimeo and other jumping on the native video bandwagon (although neither site supports open video codecs). Unfortunately, Internet Explorer users can’t enjoy native video since even the latest version of IE doesn’t know what to do with the HTML5 <video> tag.

Luckily for those that would like to stick with IE and enjoy native web video, Cristian Adam is working on a plugin for Internet Explorer that implements the HTML 5 video element. Adam’s work draws on Vladimir Vukicevic’s attempt to support the HTML5 canvas tag in IE8. Taken together, IE8 users can get at least some benefits of HTML5.

Adam’s HTML5 video support works with the free, open Ogg Theora video codec and the latest version features better Windows 7 support. Don’t hold your breath for an H.264 version of the add-on, since that would require Adams to pay licensing fees (one of the many, many reasons H.264 is bad for the web).

So far, Adam calls HTML5 video in IE a “Technical Preview,” and things are indeed very basic — there’s no seeking, no video controls and no HTML5 interface. If web-based HTML5 video controls like SublimeVideo catch on then lack of embedded UI controls won’t matter since site developers can easily add their own.

Web developers who would like to support Adam’s hack will need to add the xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml/video" attribute to turn on the <video> tag for Internet Explorer.

For more details and to download the installer, head over to Adam’s website. To see a demo of HTML5 video working in IE8, check out the video below (it’s an open video demo, so it requires Firefox 3.6).

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