All posts tagged ‘IE9’

File Under: Browsers, HTML5

Microsoft’s Sticky Position: Silverlight or HTML5?

Microsoft is deeply invested in two key technologies for building web apps: its Silverlight runtime, which requires a plug-in to work in web browsers, and HTML5, which has many of the same key capabilities, but is plug-in-free, is friendlier to mobile devices and will be heavily supported in the next version of Internet Explorer.

Tech blogger Tim Anderson has written a couple of posts Thursday speculating how Microsoft should “sell” the Sliverlight story to developers who are excited about HTML5 and the coming advancements in Internet Explorer 9.

The first post has some candid remarks from former Microsoft Silverlight product manager Scott Barnes, where he says, in some cryptic tweets, that there’s “a faction war” happening inside Microsoft over HTML5 and Silverlight.

According the Anderson, Microsoft is having an increasingly hard time positioning Silverlight as an attractive option for developers who see that HTML5 can do much of the same stuff. IE9 beta is due this month. It will offer hardware acceleration and direct access to the Windows 7 desktop, plus all of the other capabilities of a modern browser, like super-fast JavaScript performance. So, it’s not going to get any easier.

The Silverlight team has been on the defensive recently, with Microsoft’s head of developer platforms Brad Becker arguing last week that Silverlight does indeed have a place on the HTML5-powered web, where it’s used to power rich apps like games, teleconferencing apps, and DVR-like streaming apps. There is no doubt, though, that the web is catching up.

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File Under: Browsers

Leaked Screenshot Shows a Cleaner, Simpler IE9

The new design for Microsoft’s next web browser is expected to be unveiled September 15th, but the company’s Russian press site may have inadvertently spilled the beans a bit early. A screenshot of what appears to be the new IE9 made a brief appearance on the site before being yanked down.

It wasn’t taken offline fast enough to escape the press, though. Long-time Microsoft specialist Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet grabbed a screenshot that shows a much simplified user interface for IE 9.

Leaked Photo: This may be the new look for IE 9

Internet Explorer 9 promises to be a boon for the web — the modernized rendering engine is faster and much better with emerging web standards. We’ve seen four developer previews of IE9, but thus far the focus has been on the underlying code and rendering engine. There’s been no real hint as to what the final browser interface will look like until today.

Among the notable details visible in the screenshot are a unified search and URL bar a la Google’s Chrome browser, an enlarged back button, much like what you’ll find in Firefox, and a noticeable lack of menu items in the main bar.

In short, it looks like Microsoft has decided that less is more by greatly simplifying the browser UI. This is keeping in line with something Ryan Gavin, director of platform strategy at Microsoft, said previously: “The browser is the theater, we’re not the play.” In other words expect IE9 to have a cleaner, less in-your-face design. As the Russian site stated (in translation), “Now the user sees only what you need to navigate.”

Until the official launch, only Microsoft knows what the browser looks like, and it wouldn’t comment to Foley or to anyone else about the screenshot.

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File Under: Browsers, Mobile

Get to Know Your New User Agent Strings

With the two most-popular web browsers ready to drop new versions within the next couple of months, you’re going to have to adjust a few twiddly bits on your website if you’re sniffing user agent strings. Of course, you should be sniffing for capabilities and not blocking browsers, but nonetheless, it’s helpful to see what the new strings look like.

Internet Explorer 9

Microsoft’s new browser, due in September, has a new UA string. Details are on the IE blog, but here it is:

Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 9.0; Windows NT 6.1; Trident/5.0)

Firefox 4

Likewise, the new version of Firefox — version 4 is due October-ish — will have an updated UA string. Unlike IE, Firefox runs on several platforms, so there are a few:

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; rv:2.0.1) Gecko/yyyymmdd Firefox/4.0.1
Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.6; rv:2.0.1) Gecko/yyyymmdd Firefox/4.0.1
Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux i686; rv:2.0.1) Gecko/yyyymmdd Firefox/4.0.1

Easy enough to decipher. The “year month date” part is where the Gecko build id will show up. This build id will be different for each platform. Mozilla developer Daniel Witte covers the changes in depth on his blog. There’s also a more complete reference on the Moz Dev Center wiki.

Mobile browsers

Both Mozilla and Microsoft have new mobile browsers in development. Firefox Mobile was once known by the codename Fennec, so the mobile UA string is the same as desktop Firefox, but it has Fennec/fennecversion appended at the end.

The new IE mobile UA string is:

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows Phone OS 7.0; Trident/3.1; IEMobile/7.0; <DeviceManufacturer>;<DeviceModel>)

There are more details on the Windows Phone IE blog.

All this talk of strings gives me the itch to hear a little “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.”

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File Under: Browsers, HTML5

Is Your Browser Ready for HTML5?

The HTML5 era is already here, it just isn’t evenly distributed yet. Browsers vary in their levels of support for the emerging standard, and developers are pushing the envelope with hacks, experiments and proof-of-concept demos.

If you want to find out how well-equipped your browser is for the HTML5 future, just pay a visit

The page will check if your browser supports HTML5 parsing, canvas, file drag-and-drop, embedded audio and video, and all of the other elements required by the draft HTML5 specification, as well as specifications that are related to HTML5 but not actually a part of it, like geolocation and local storage.

You’ll be issued a score (out of a total of 300 points) that indicates the level of support for the stuff in the spec, as well as bonus points for support that goes beyond what’s required for HTML5 compliance. For example, your browser gets bonus points for each video codec and audio codec included in the browser. These are only bonus points, and not real points, since HTML5 outlines how audio and video files can be embedded on a page, but does not require a specific audio or video codec to be included.

Here’s how the browsers on my Mac stack up:

  • Chrome (dev channel) scores 217 points and 10 bonus points
  • Safari 5.01 scores 208 points with 6 bonus points
  • Firefox 4 beta 2 scores 189 points with 9 bonus points
  • Opera 10.6 scores 159 points and 7 bonus points
  • Internet Explorer 9 platform preview scores 84 points and 1 bonus point

If you’re wondering how these scores are being generated, the code behind the single-serving app was posted to Github by creator Niels Leenheer. He says he also incorporated the HTML5 parser tests created by Mozilla developer Henri Sivonen.

HTML5, the much-anticipated rewrite of the web’s lingua franca, is currently in open development, with the web’s standards body and all the browser vendors taking part. While some browsers won’t fully support HTML5 until it is officially standardized some time in the next year or two, developers have already begun building with it, and all major browser vendors are adding support into their latest releases.

There are multiple methods of checking for HTML5 element support when a user visits your page, as well as libraries like Modernizr, which let you take advantage of HTML5 elements while controlling how browsers with limited support handle your page.

The HTML5 specification is updated frequently, and browser support for the various elements is in constant flux. As such, the test numbers will go up and down as new browser versions are released and as the code that powers the tests is improved and is updated to reflect HTML5′s changing status.

Also, Leenheer has posted the next version of the test, which ups the total possible score to 315 points, at Go there if you want to see what the page will be testing for in the future.

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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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