I’m not the only one pondering whether the arrival of IE9 could lead to a more fractured Web in which sites don’t work equally well in every modern browser. ZDnet’s Mary Jo Foley wondered about the same thing–and scored an interesting Microsoft interview on the subject.
Tag Archives | Microsoft Internet Explorer
Remember the bad old days of the Internet, when it wasn’t a given that one primary objective of any Web site should be to work equally well in any modern browser? Some sites slapped “Best Viewed With Internet Explorer” or “Best Viewed With Netscape Navigator” logos (or both of them) onto their home pages, like perverse badges of honor. It was like turning onto a highway and discovering signs saying it was best driven in a Buick or a Kia.
Eventually there were sites that would only operate properly in IE, most often because they used Microsoft’s IE-only ActiveX. (I have the horrible feeling that such sites are still out there, although the last one I encountered myself belonged to a financial institution which I stopped doing business with in 2009.)
Apologies in advance for the mixed metaphor: For many years, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has been a sleeping giant that’s marched to its own drummer. Ever since Firefox appeared in 2004, Microsoft has struggled to figure out what IE should be in the new era of browser competition; it remains the world’s default browser, but it long ago lost the hearts and minds of nearly all of the serious browser users that I know.
At first, the company simply let 2001’s IE6 calcify, as if it wasn’t certain that the world needed a major new version of Internet Explorer at all. Then it released IE7 and IE8–bland updates that felt like they existed in a parallel universe of their own rather than the one in which Firefox and Safari (and, for the last two years, Chrome) have been evolving rapidly and cribbing each others’ best new features.
And then there’s Internet Explorer 9, which is debuting in beta form today at a bash in San Francisco. (I’m attending the event, and Microsoft provided me with the beta a few days early.) It’s easily the best new version of Microsoft’s browser in…well, in this century: The last IE upgrade that was this pleasing was version 5, which shipped in 1999. In most respects that matter, IE9 finally catches up with the competition. In a few, it’s sprinted past them. It’s just plain good.
ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley thinks she stumbled upon the user interface for Internet Explorer 9, spying a screenshot on Microsoft Russia’s press website. If this is the real deal, the next IE will look like the lovechild of Google Chrome and Firefox 4.
From Firefox 4, IE9 reportedly takes the oversized back button, translucent window and tremendous amount of wasted space above the navigation bar (seriously, it’s just an empty row with window management at the end, and the next Firefox is just as guilty). From Chrome, IE9 may derive the omnibar for search and URLs, and a series of menu icons on the right side of the screen.
Microsoft has released its final Internet Explorer 9 Platform Preview–the pre-beta releases that let developers try out the new browser’s technical underpinnings. ZDnet’s Ed Bott predicts a true beta next month.
The technical previews of Internet Explorer 9 haven’t been true betas–they’ve been all under-the-hood stuff, without a hint of any changes to the browser’s user interface. But as Mary Jo Foley reports, Microsoft says it plans to release an IE9 beta in September.
DailyTech ran browser speed tests on Opera 10.6 (released last week) and the current version of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 technical preview–and was impressed in both instances.
Microsoft is continuing with its interesting one-step-at-a-time Internet Explorer 9 strategy: It’s releasing its third “Platform Preview” of the browser today. This isn’t a full-blown browser–it’s IE9’s new rendering engine, with HTML5 capabilities, hardware-accelerated graphics, and other goodies, plus enough of a front end that developers and browser junkies can get a taste of what’s to come. New features in this update include support for HTML5 video and further overall speed tweaks.
As with the previous previews, Microsoft has a test drive site which lets you download the IE9 preview and check out demos you can run in any browser. They’re all cool examples of the richer, more interactive Web that’s still a work in progress–and the ones involving animation, not surprisingly, tend to run radically faster and smoother in IE9 than in other browsers. They certainly did at a Microsoft event I attended this morning, where a bevy of computers ranging from an underpowered little netbook to a six-core desktop machine ran the Platform Preview.
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