All posts tagged ‘IE9’

File Under: Browsers

Microsoft Drops a New IE9 Preview, Boosts CSS Support

Internet Explorer 9 Beta on the Windows 7 desktop

We’re still months away from the official release of Internet Explorer 9 — it’s likely due some time during the first half of 2011 — but Microsoft continues to roll new features and additional web standards support into its next-gen browser.

The company put out a sixth pre-release “platform preview” of IE9 Thursday. It includes support for CSS3′s 2D transforms. There are also improvements to hardware acceleration, font rendering, and the browser’s JavaScript engine. You can read about these enhancements in depth on the official IE Blog.

Microsoft released the first beta of Internet Explorer 9 in September. But this new release is not a second beta, it’s the sixth platform preview. A bit confusing, sure. But beta releases are considered to be almost totally stable and are intended for a more general audience. Platform previews are on the bleeding edge, and may contain code that isn’t as thoroughly tested. So, this release is primarily aimed at developers.

IE9 Beta is doing spectacularly well, however — Microsoft says its beta release has been downloaded ten million times since its release six weeks ago. It has also been receiving kudos for its expanded support of web standards like HTML5, CSS 3 and WOFF.

Here’s a video showing off the new stuff in IE9 platform preview 6:

If you watch the video and read the post on the IE Blog, you’ll notice a lot of emphasis on “full hardware acceleration” in IE9, and how other browsers like Chrome and Firefox can’t perform as well as IE9 because they only offer “partial” hardware acceleration. In fact, all browsers have access to the same Windows APIs that enable off-loading work to the PC’s graphics processor when needed to speed up 2D and 3D animation rendering. This has been an issue of some debate over the past two months, with Microsoft and Mozilla going toe-to-toe over the issue.

If you want to test the new IE9 platform preview 6, it’s available for Windows 7 and Vista only. Microsoft also released some new tests at the ietestdrive site — run all your browsers through them.

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File Under: Browsers, CSS, HTML5, Web Standards

A Guide to Internet Explorer 9′s HTML5/CSS 3 Support

If you’d like to know exactly where Internet Explorer 9 stands on support for emerging web standards in its current beta release form, Microsoft has put together a comprehensive list of all the supported HTML5 and CSS 3 features in IE9. The document notes that IE 9 is still a beta release, and the list is subject to change, but it makes a good list to help you get up to speed on IE 9′s new capabilities.

Internet Explorer 9 is a major leap forward for Microsoft in its promise to deliver solid web standards support. Although IE 9 still lags behind its competitors when it comes to supporting the latest HTML5 and CSS 3 code, it’s leaps and bounds beyond where IE 8 left off.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the list is that Microsoft has opted to skip the vender prefix in most of its CSS 3 support and simply use, for example, the border-radius rule. That means if you’ve been adding the straight CSS 3 rules in additions to the -webkit, -moz and -o prefixes, your fancy style sheets should already work in IE 9.

Among the good news for web developers in IE 9 is support for CSS 3′s border-radius property, opacity in images, CSS media queries and the new web fonts format, WOFF.

IE9′s WOFF support even has a nice showcase: a series of CSS font experiments dubbed Lost World’s Fairs. Using WOFF and Typekit, web designers Jason Santa Maria, Frank Chimero and Naz Hamid have put together some very impressive font demos to advertise World’s Fairs that never happened (we’re partial to the Atlantis World’s Fair).

The demos will work in any modern browser, including the new IE 9 beta.

While IE 9 isn’t a final release yet, things are definitely look up for web developers. Yes, we’ll still be supporting IE 7 and IE 8 for some time, and yes, IE9 still lacks a few things, like support for CSS 3 text-shadows or HTML5′s form elements, but it’s a step in the right direction.

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File Under: HTML5, Web Standards

Microsoft Taps HTML5 to Add Zing to Bing

As part of the launch event to show off the new Internet Explorer 9 beta, Microsoft also demoed a new version of its Bing search engine that uses HTML5 and CSS 3 to spice up Bing’s homepage and search results.

During the demo, Bing developers showed off a version of the search engine that uses the HTML5′s video tag to take Bing’s well-known background images a step further, replacing the static image with a video of waves crashing on the beach. Another new feature, using the Canvas element, will allow you to zoom around a very large image.

The revamped version of Bing will launch in October. Microsoft is still tweaking some of the code, but its demo at the launch event was already complete enough to impress.

Other tricks up Bing’s sleeve include some fancy transitions between search types — nice sliding and fading transitions between tabs (presumably done using CSS 3 transitions) — and other visual touches, like animated backgrounds for weather forecasts and auto-expanding search results.

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File Under: Browsers

Internet Explorer 9 Beta Drops. It’s Lean, Fast and Modern

Internet Explorer 9 Beta on the Windows 7 desktop

Microsoft will release the first beta version of its new Internet Explorer web browser Wednesday morning.

Internet Explorer 9 Beta will be made available for download shortly after it is announced at a launch event in San Francisco, around 10:00am Pacific time. We’ll post a download link for Windows Vista and Windows 7 users as soon as we have one.

The final version of IE9 is still some months off — Microsoft wouldn’t commit to a definite time frame for the browser’s release when we asked. But we’ve spent a few days in IE9 Beta’s company, and so far, it has proven to be a thoroughly modern machine. The world’s most-sed browser is getting a new look, much expanded support for HTML5 and other 21st century web technologies, and a big speed boost.

Quite a change. Microsoft has a reputation for being an also-ran when it comes to browser innovation. When IE8 arrived in March 2009, we found it rich in features, but lacking in support for the emerging standards powering the shiny apps that make the web exciting. IE8 was faster and more secure than its predecessor, but when it came to speed and productivity, it wasn’t up to snuff with its peers — Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera. In fact, it was a bit of a snooze.

A year and a half on, Microsoft has smelled the coffee and is wide awake at the wheel. IE is fit to play in the same league as the other browsers.

Keep in mind, IE9 Beta is still pre-release code, so it may not run perfectly. But there’s enough new going on here — especially that speed boost — to make the download a must for the curious who want a taste of IE’s future.

A new look

The most striking difference between this browser release and the IEs of old is the new user interface. It’s sleek and minimal, and — what are those? — it now has the inverted top-tabs, which are quickly becoming common.

We first caught wind of this design change when a screenshot of the new IE9 leaked onto the web. It decreases the amount of real estate the browser consumes on screen and makes way for more content.

Another shot of IE9 Beta. Click for larger.

“The browser is the stage and the backdrop, but the website is the star of the show,” Microsoft general manager of Internet Explorer Dean Hachamovitch tells Wired. “We think the browser should totally take a back seat to the sites.”

Freeing up those extra pixels with a minimal top bar is a path others in the industry are taking. Chrome shipped with the tabs-on-top look two years ago, Mozilla has adopted it for Firefox 4, and Safari has flirted with in the past. Opera offers a few different choices for where to put your tabs.

Other notable details: a unified search and URL bar (a la Google Chrome) where you can get search suggestions as you type. Bing is the default, but you can add Google, Wikipedia or a host of other engines. There’s also an enlarged back button, (a la Firefox) and a noticeable lack of menu items in the main bar. Something else new in IE9 is the New Tab window with thumbnails of your most commonly-visited sites, which looks much like what you’ll find in Safari, Chrome and Opera. A nice addition here is a little bar in each thumbnail that shows how much time you’ve spent on each site.

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File Under: Browsers

A Guide to Hardware Acceleration in Modern Browsers

Is your browser faster than the Shinkansen?

The browser race is hotter than it’s been in years, with all of major vendors ramping up support for HTML5 and its associated technologies. The latest area of focus is hardware acceleration — when the browser hands off processor-intensive tasks to the computer’s graphics processor to make animations and page rendering faster and smoother.

Microsoft created some controversy on its IEBlog this past weekend with a post claiming that the IE9 beta release was “the first and only browser to deliver full hardware acceleration of all HTML5 content.”

However, despite Microsoft’s claims, Firefox 4 also takes advantage of the same Windows 7 APIs that Microsoft uses to accelerate both the compositing and the rendering of webpages, and it has done so for some time. Yes, Mozilla’s hardware acceleration support is still very much limited to beta releases and nightly builds, but so are IE9′s hardware acceleration features.

Mozilla was understandably a bit angry about Microsoft’s misleading claims. But, to be fair, the IEBlog doesn’t actually call out Firefox by name, so it’s possible Microsoft sees Google Chrome as its real competitor. Chrome’s hardware acceleration lags behind Mozilla and Microsoft’s efforts, but even Chrome has included hardware acceleration for compositing in both Chrome 6 and Chrome 7 builds.

Confused yet? To help you keep things straight, here’s a handy chart showing all three layers of hardware acceleration and which browsers support each:

Hardware Accelerated Composition support by Windows browser:
Fx 4.0 beta 5 IE9 beta Safari 5 Chrome 6+ Opera 10.5
· ·
Hardware Accelerated Rendering support by Windows browser:
Fx 4.0 beta 5 IE9 beta Safari 5 Chrome 6+ Opera 10.5
· · ·
Hardware Accelerated Desktop Compositing support by Windows browser:
Fx 4.0 beta 5 IE9 beta Safari 5 Chrome 6+ Opera 10.5
· · ·

Another strange claim in the post on the IEBlog is that IE9′s hardware acceleration is somehow faster because it doesn’t support other platforms — not even Windows XP. The reasoning is that by targeting on one platform, Microsoft can focus its efforts more clearly, and build tight support for behaviors specific to Windows 7.

In Firefox 4′s case, the hardware acceleration is somewhat abstracted, so it can eventually support Linux and Mac OS X as well as Windows. Even now, Firefox supports partial Windows XP hardware acceleration.

Despite Microsoft’s claim, in our tests (and most others publicly available) IE9 and Firefox are neck and neck. And, as Mozilla’s Robert O’Callahan points out, “an extra abstraction layer need not hurt performance — if you do it right.”

In the end, who came first and how it’s done behind the scenes will be a moot point. Users will win in the end — a few months from now, there will very likely be three hardware accelerated web browsers available for Windows, with more operating systems getting the capabilities through non-IE browsers.

Shinkansen photo by 663highland/Wikimedia Commons/CC

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