Posts Tagged ‘IE9’

aaand crash.

Monday, April 18th, 2011

MIX was exhausting, but a whole lot of fun.

The flight back was interesting because I was super-smart and booked a red-eye with two stopovers and about 7 hours of in-flight time. This meant staying up for nearly 30 consecutive hours and spending almost half that time in airports/on planes.

Yeah. Exhausting.

I met a lot of great people, and wrote some hopefully-useful posts for my workplace’s blog about what I learned. If you missed them, they can be found here.

I had a couple of other thoughts that didn’t quite make it into any posts, so in no particular order, here are my many meandering musings re: MIX 2011.

Microsoft Really Cares about Windows Phone 7

The amount of excitement and volume behind WP7 and the new Mango update was almost overwhelming.

Windows Phone 7 was the main focus of the day-two keynote, which was the main event for the entire show. Joe Belfiore spent a solid twenty minutes apologizing for the hassles from the recent update before diving into the new stuff. I could really see some passion here; he clearly wanted to fix the process and see the platform succeed.

Azure is Probably Doing Pretty Well

There wasn’t much talk about Azure. A couple of panels, but very little else. My sneaking suspicion is that this means Azure is hitting its targets and Microsoft is happy with how it’s going.

My boss, Mr. Tony Hooper, was kind enough to point out to me that the crowd at MIX isn’t really the target market for Azure, and that we would probably hear a lot more about it at TechEd.

He’s probably right.

But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong :)

Silverlight 5 is All About Developers

Somewhere in the past 5 years or so, the world went from “Microsoft thinking they had the best dev tools around” to “Microsoft actually having some really sweet kit for building web experiences.”

Silverlight 5 is pushing this advantage. The new features available in the upcoming release are nice, but the improvements to their dev tools are even better. There were sessions focused on boosting performance and how to use the new features, and everyone was talking about how much they crave debugging for bindings.

There was a lot of positive energy around the tools and those using them. As a developer, this was nice to see.

IE10 was Launched!

Ok, so it’s just the platform preview for now, but that’s still something. IE9 only went official a month ago, so it’s great-great-great to see Microsoft finally putting a serious push behind the Internet Explorer team.

Yes, I realize most people probably aren’t as excited about this as I am. That’s just me, I’m a self-confessed browser geek. Still, I really felt special being at a keynote where a new version of a major browser was announced; I don’t think we’ll see many more browser updates unveiled with such gusto.

§

MIX was a really fun experience. It was my first major conference, and I’m glad I was able to attend. Here’s to hoping there are many more exciting events in my future!

User Experience Begins at Step One

Monday, September 27th, 2010

For this week’s post, I decided I would play around with the Internet Explorer 9 beta and post some 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 around with new features like SVG and GPU-acceleration.

As it turns out, I didn’t get that far. Why, you ask? Two reasons:

Reason #1: It has never taken me as long to download a browser as it took me to download IE9.

Seriously. I opened a text file to log my initial impressions, and thought it would be fun to start taking notes right from my search to download the beta. I ended up saving my text file, happy with my outline, after only completing the install. Briefly, here’s what I noted:

Downloading the installer feels like work. The top hit on Google for Internet Explorer 9 is the old platform preview page from April, still with the same title. I initially skipped over it, thinking that I already have the preview and that’s not what I’m looking for. The next few results were all sketchy, unofficial mirrors. Eventually I crawled back to the preview page, which had a link to “Get the Beta”.

This led to a completely different-looking page (neither were particularly well designed, they were both quite startling in their mediocrity). Here I immediately saw a link called “Get it Now”, which I followed to a third page, that had not one but almost forty buttons labeled “Download”.

Yes, forty.

This is because Microsoft decided to list all languages IE9 is available in, each with its own download link. And to choose your preferred language, you don’t click on the language or a checkbox or anything, you highlight your OS version from the accompanying drop-down list. Are you kidding me? Who designed this? That’s five clicks now, for those of you who are counting, across three pages, with two different types of controls, and I had to parse my language out of a giant list.

Downloading a browser shouldn’t feel like a chore!

Think about the last browser you downloaded. Was it Chrome? Then you probably don’t remember downloading it at all, because it takes about 10 seconds. The download page can be found in an instant, and you click one button to download the installer. ONE. From one page, that you found really easily.

Maybe your last download was Firefox. In that case you probably remember it a little better. The procedure was smooth and enjoyable; branding was consistent and the sequence of clicks and navigation was concise and straightforward. You probably noticed how beautifully designed Mozilla’s website is.

If Microsoft is expecting IE9 to compete with the other major players in the browser market, they have to streamline the downloading process. Google and Mozilla go out of their way to make sure their browsers are easy to find, and simple/enjoyable to download. Finding and downloading IE9 is currently a hassle.

Reason #2: Installing IE9 is about as modern as debugging IE6.

I’m serious. The installer for IE9 looks and feels like it was built in about 1997. It’s a standard dialog box with a progress bar. No decoration of any kind, and no branding. No “Thanks for participating in our beta!” or “Here are some of our new features…”. Just the bare minimum; something no other browser maker would dare do these days.

And how long it took! I’m pretty sure I could have installed FF, Chrome, Safari and Opera in less than the amount of time it took to run the installer for IE9. Of course, Microsoft was kind enough to provide me with a couple of helpful progress messages explaining what was taking so long:

  • “Installing required updates.”
  • “Installing.”

That’s it. Two extremely vague statements with no way to gain further information. And just when I thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse, I completed the install only to find a pop-up telling me to restart my PC. I almost fainted. Why on earth would installing a browser require a system restart? This is unheard of.

Is this really the best Microsoft could do?

Where were the interaction experts that put together the interface for Windows Phone 7 or Windows Live? When will Microsoft figure out that it’s no longer acceptable to phone in their UX? That it’s not okay for even trivial interactions with a new product to be poorly designed?

The web crowd is not known for its patience, and I wonder how much longer it will persevere.

Internet Explorer 9

Monday, April 12th, 2010

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.