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Will Internet Explorer 9 provide some browser competition?

Will Internet Explorer 9 finally pose a challenge to the technically superior upstart web browsers from Google, Mozilla and Apple?

Microsoft recently revealed a platform preview of its upcoming Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) web browser at its MIX10 conference. The preview browser is far from complete with a lot of the user interface components such as tabs and navigation buttons but it does show off the renderer and the Javascript engine which allows developers to see what features are coming in the future. Microsoft’s IE team has also committed to update the preview every 8 weeks which will allow users to see the progression of IE9 development.

Microsoft getting a new (standards-based) religion?

It appears that IE 9 will finally adopt and comply with some of the web standards. The initial preview scores a respectable 55//100 on the CSS Acid 3 test which is a huge improvement over IE8’s score of 20/100. Support for some new HTML 5 features is also present in the IE9 preview build such as the much touted video tag as well as SVG support. The video tag will have support for the H.264 codec which is also being supported by Google Chrome and Apple’s Safari.

Microsoft has also improved the performance of the rendering engine by leveraging available hardware. Graphics cards will now help offload some video and graphics processing from the CPU. IE9 has also been made increasingly multithreaded and optimized to take advantage of multiple cores in a system. For example the Javascript engine can use a separate core to compile Javascript code in preparation for execution which leaves the primary core available to do additional processing. In fact, Javascipt performance has been increased so much that on certain tests, IE 9 is faster than Firefox.

Will a strong IE9 release slow the momentum of the competing browsers which have been nibbling away the market share from Microsoft? A strong IE will definitely reduce the incentive for people to switch to an alternative browser.

One caveat which may play a factor in IE9 adoption is that Internet Explorer 9 will not be compatible with Windows XP.

Ars Technica has a great write up on the preview : Platform Preview gives Web developers first taste of IE9.

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March 26th, 2010 Posted by Danny D'Amours | Tech | no comments

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