Microsoft releases IE9 Platform Preview

by: Bradley Wint on March 17th, 2010 at 5:00 am

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Microsoft has unveiled a Platform Preview of their latest browser installment, Internet Explorer 9. The current version (which can be downloaded here) is very basic, mainly for use by developers. It doesn’t even have an address bar, but they released it to put the spotlight 0n some of the interesting updates it will bring.

They focus on the next-gen mark-up language, HTML5; the speed boosted Javascript manager, and CSS3.

HTML5 allows for a much wider range of applications to be run within its own environment, rather than having separate apps run them (e.g. Flash, GIFs, etc.) Their test site (link mentioned above) has a few demos showing off the powers of CSS3 and XHTML within the HTML5 environment. Some demos show off organizational charts, bouncing animated balls, an XHTML T-Shirt designer and more. I tested it with Youtube’s HTML5 compatible videos but didn’t have any luck though. The vids worked in Google Chrome however, but obviously the program is still in the dev stages.

The Javascript applications also were quite impressive. They loaded quickly and felt very smooth, unlike its predecessor IE8. When I tested them in Firefox 3.6, the apps also felt somewhat sluggish. In IE9, the FPS counter averaged between 55-70 while Firefox was able to do only 30. The app actually froze up in Google Chrome, doing only 1-3 frames per second.

The biggest concern with IE was its compliance with today’s web formatting standards. Based on the Acid3 test, it scored 55/100, which is still very poor compared to others like Firefox and Chrome. It is however an improvement over IE8’s 20/100 and IE7’s 14/100 scores. Hopefully they put more focus on this area, since as a web designer myself, it is always a headache having to write custom CSS for IE browsers.

To facilitate these innovations, Microsoft has stated that the browser will not be supported on Windows XP, simply because it is too outdated to run the new code. It may sound like a marketing ploy to get people to step up to Windows 7, but it makes sense because they are also moving towards becoming more web compliant.

Check out some of the screens below (nothing impressive, but it’s worth actually downloading and testing).

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