All posts tagged ‘Internet Explorer 9’

File Under: Browsers, HTML5

Microsoft Ups HTML5 Support With New HTML5 Labs Site

Microsoft's new HTML5 Labs experiment

Internet Explorer 9 will be Microsoft’s most standards-compliant browser to date. But it still lags behind the rest of the pack when it comes to supporting the latest and greatest elements of HTML5 and CSS 3.

To address that shortcoming, Microsoft has launched a new HTML5 Labs site to give interested web developers a way to “preview” HTML5 features that won’t be supported in Internet Explorer 9, but could make it into future updates.

HTML5 is still incomplete — the spec changes and evolves on a daily basis, and a few key issues are still undecided. While the more cutting edge web browsers like Firefox, Opera and Google Chrome have opted to support portions of the HTML5 spec that are still very much in flux, Microsoft is taking a more conservative approach, shipping what it calls “mainstream browser” features and skipping the more experimental parts of HTML5.

In a recent blog post, Microsoft’s VP for Internet Explorer, Dean Hachamovitch, attempted to draw a line between the “prototype implementations” of HTML5 and those features that are “mainstream browser product[s].” While the distinction is Microsoft’s own, and for the most part totally arbitrary since the entire HTML5 spec is technically unfinished, on a practical level, Hachamovitch is right — some HTML5 features are more equal than others.

Curiously, one of the two that Microsoft has thus far included in its new HTML5 Labs is WebSockets. Firefox and Opera recently disabled WebSockets due to a security flaw. There’s a way to fix the flaw, but it will require rewriting some of the WebSockets spec.

Concerns about immature specs are precisely the reason Microsoft is taking a conservative approach to HTML5 in IE9. But to then turn around and offer a “labs” version of Web Sockets — which is absolutely guaranteed to change — seems like strange move on Microsoft’s part. After all, why would developers want to even experiment with something that is not only going to change, but is also vulnerable to attack in its current form?

The other experimental feature in Microsoft’s HTML5 Labs makes more sense — support for IndexedDB. IndexedDB is a draft spec that outlines a method of storing large amounts of data in the browser. Primarily intended for offline web apps, IndexedDB sidesteps some of the problems with current SQL-based offline storage tools and is much easier to work with when you’re using JavaScript.

If you’d like to experiment with Internet Explorer’s take on WebSockets and IndexedDB, head over to the new HTML5 Labs page and follow the installation instructions. While the process of adding these features to IE9 is a little convoluted, it does give you a way to test your apps in IE, which means that when these features finally do make it into an update, your apps will be ready to go.

See Also:

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.

See Also:

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.

See Also: