IE9 started from the premise that the modern web will deliver HTML5 experiences that feel more like native applications than sites. Building on hardware-accelerated SVG, canvas, video, audio, and text, developers will use the power of the whole PC to achieve great performance. On the modern web, developers will use the same markup across different HTML5 browsers.
With IE9, we have worked much more closely with the developer community. Developers have had an earlier (and more frequently updated) look at the platform. With that early engagement, developer feedback has had a bigger impact than before. People have downloaded IE9 Platform Previews over 2.5 million times. The samples on the IE Test Drive site have had over 20 million visitors. We appreciate the positive feedback and all the specific issues logged in Connect. They’ve helped us make demonstrable improvements that the community has noticed.
Note this video uses the HTML5 video tag (with the H.264 codec) if your browser supports it, and falls back to other methods otherwise. It’s a good example of same markup in action.
Fully Hardware-Accelerated HTML5
The performance benefits of hardware acceleration are clear from running different sample sites side by side in IE9 and other browsers. Browsers that implement partial hardware acceleration – for example, text-only, or video-playback only, or image-only acceleration – offer inconsistent and possibly unpredictable platform experiences to developers and end-users.
IE9 offers consistent, fully hardware-accelerated text, graphics, and media, both audio and video. Try Hamster Dance Revolution, IE Beatz, or MSNBC Video in different browsers to experience the difference. Psychedelic Browsing demonstrates what HTML5 canvas can do when it’s fully accelerated with the GPU.
With Platform Preview 4, we’re excited to show highly-interactive and integrated, or modern, SVG. Typically, developers think of SVG as the graphics format for static engineering diagrams and images. With HTML5 and hardware acceleration, SVG is an excellent choice for a new class of interactive, animated scenarios.
Through this deep integration, the performance of real world websites significantly improves, and IE9 becomes the first browser to have a shared DOM between the browser and the script engine based on ECMAScript5. The benefits start with real-world performance and consistency.
The differences between browsers on this microbenchmark are converging within thousandths of seconds on tests that repeat operations many, many times to find any differences at all.
Same Markup, and Tests
To assess the quality and completeness of a browser’s standards support, we look to the official standards bodies. Their open, consensus-based process is the best way to bring the community of browser vendors and web developer and design professionals together in building a test suite.
With Platform Preview 4, we’re contributing 519 new tests to the standards bodies. Based on community feedback, we’ve also updated five of the previously submitted tests. This brings the total number of tests we’ve contributed during IE9 development to 2,138. We welcome your feedback on the specific test cases. Please continue to provide feedback on the test cases to the appropriate W3C working group. In case of ES5 test cases please provide test case specific feedback via Microsoft Connect. We also invite you to submit your own test cases to the standards bodies as well. You can find the test cases Microsoft has developed at the IE Test Center.
These test cases represent a strong start on a complete and comprehensive test suite of the web standards developers expect to work consistently across browsers. While the suite is not complete yet, it is interesting to note how interoperable some of the same markup is across different browsers:
Some people use a particular test or website as shorthand for standards compliance. Different sites test different subsets of different standards to different depths. Acid3 is one that some people in the community have cited. It tests about 100 fragments of a dozen different technologies. Here’s a screenshot of how today’s IE9 Platform Preview runs today’s Acid3 test, going from 83 in the previous platform preview to 95:
As IE9 has implemented more of the standards that developers use and value, IE9’s Acid3 score has continued to rise. The remaining points involve two particular technologies (SVG Fonts and SMIL animation of SVG) that are in transition.
Support for SVG Fonts in the web development and font communities has been declining for some time. There’s already been discussion without objection of dropping SVG fonts from the Acid3 test. The community has put forth a proposal in the SVG Working Group to give SVG Fonts optional status.
Instead, developers can use the Web Open Font Format (WOFF, supported in IE9 Platform Preview 3 as well as other browsers) for both HTML and SVG content. It works well in conjunction with the CSS3 Fonts module and has broad support from leading font vendors (e.g. here, “a majority of font makers have already settled on WOFF or services like Typekit as their format of choice”). WOFF fonts are a better long-term solution for many reasons discussed previously.
Getting sites ready for Beta
With the fourth Platform Preview, we strongly recommend developers, designers, and partners to start getting your sites ready for the IE9 Beta.
- Test your site in IE9 Standards Mode. This mode provides the best performance and interoperability and will offer additional benefits in the IE9 Beta. We suggest using the HTML5 doctype. More details here and here.
- We recommend sending IE9 the same standards-based markup your site sends other browsers. More details here and here. From the feedback so far, and our experience with sites, the best way to get your site working in IE9 Standards Mode is to start from the same markup other browsers receive rather than IE6, IE7, or IE8 markup.
- Use feature detection, not browser detection to handle any cross browser differences in behavior or feature support. This keeps your site working even as browsers change.
- Please continue to report issues on Connect if your site doesn’t look or work right, and you’re giving it the same code as you’re giving to other modern browsers. With IE9 Platform Preview 4, we’ve fixed over 100 community-reported issues. We will fix even more between now and the IE9 beta and want your feedback.
- Consider the experience for IE9 Beta users if you find that sending the same markup creates more issues than you can resolve in your production site. It is possible that running your site in Compatibility View is better for your users.
- Take advantage of HTML5, CSS3, SVG, DOM, ES5, and more… all described here in the developer guide. We’re excited to run the amazing experiences you bring to the web using these new capabilities, taking advantage of hardware through IE9.
Platform Preview 4 is an important milestone on the way to beta. It is the last preview before the IE9 Beta. The IE9 platform is nearly complete. We ask that developers and partners start testing in preparation for the beta and prepare their sites to take advantage of IE9’s new capabilities. We continue to welcome your feedback via Connect.
General Manager, Internet Explorer