Internet Explorer 9

I’m a little late to the party on this one, but I have a few of thoughts I’ve been meaning to jot down since watching Microsoft’s MIX presentation about Internet Explorer 9. It’s a pretty in-depth video, and a touch long (~1 hour), but if you’re at all interested in browser technology it’s absolutely a must-watch.

Internet Explorer is no long playing catch up.

The resounding vibe I get from the video is that the Internet Explorer team is finally starting to get really serious about modern browser technologies. I’ve made my position on IE8 clear in the past — namely that it nailed CSS 2.1 but still wasn’t a competitive browser overall — and IE9 looks to be where that second clause will change. For the first time in about 10 years, Internet Explorer is innovating. For the skeptics out there, here’s a list of the features promised in IE9 that I’m excited about:

  • Proper JS/DOM programmability.
  • Standards-compliant HTML5 and CSS3 support.
  • GPU usage for more complicated UI effects.
  • Inline SVG support.

Now those first two aren’t exactly revolutionary, but it’s clear after the CSS 2.1 push in IE8 that the Internet Explorer team isn’t ignoring the standards anymore; they’re dedicated to promoting cross-browser mark-up, and they have the technical capacity to make it happen. This is great news for users and especially great news for developers, and hopefully it will push other browser-makers to fulfill their obligations to HTML5 and CSS3 as well.

What is new are those last two points. Using the GPU for rendering complicated UI effects such as the <video> tag is a welcome innovation to balance increasingly client-heavy rich internet applications. I can see this being a major reason for users to stick with IE9 (the first one in a while, in fact). And what is there to say about inline SVG other than finally? As long as the implementation isn’t falling apart at the seams I can see developers jumping all over this; I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Firefox et al follow suit with similar support in the near future.

This is going to be huge.

IE9 is going to be the best version of Internet Explorer since IE4. It’s not going to be a standards-scoffing, security-lacking, feature-stealing deviant like its distant predecessors, and it’s not going to be that browser that we all hate rewriting our mark-up for. As a web developer who has lamented the existence of Internet Explorer for the majority of my career, I’m as surprised as I am pleased to say that for the first time in my life I’m looking forward to the next version of Internet Explorer.

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One Response to “Internet Explorer 9”

  1. dan-menard.com» Blog Archive » User Experience Begins at Step One Says:

    [...] initial thoughts. I’m a bit of a browser geek, and as I mentioned back in April, I’m excited about IE9. I imagined I’d have a great time exploring the support for HTML5 and CSS3, and playing [...]

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