Quick Thoughts On The IE9 PDC Preview

Good old Microsoft still think they have something to offer the web community. Segway: maybe theydo! Internet Explorer 9 is in the works, and if everything goes according to plan, it’ll sport 2D hardware acceleration (faster and more smooth scaling and rendering of fonts and CSS borders and images), CSS3 support (the interviewer seems to think border-radius is something Microsoft has just invented) and a new faster JavaScript engine. Of course you need Microsoft Silverlight installed to see the videos, this is still Microsoft after all.

I’m assuming the new font rendering engine will eventually propogate to the entirety of Windows; in fact I was expecting it would replace the default font rendering engine in Windows 7 which was not the case. Until then, if IE9 really does smooth fonts differently from all other apps on the system, it’ll be the odd man out, just like Safari and iTunes were until they ditched their custom smoothing.

The rest of the hardware acceleration (for CSS, images and so on) is intriguing, however. It’s DirectX based, so it’s Windows only (again, what did you expect). This could potentially put IE9 back on the map as a semi-serious contender. On the other hand, WebKit has WebGL on the way, and Google will no doubt do what they can to speed up webapps with their Chrome OS. It’ll be interesting to see this play out.


The CSS3 support is welcome by default, if only because IE8s lack there-of turned out to be a completely unnecessary and useless stepping stone. As usual, it’ll have little immediate impact for us poor web-developers, as Microsoft refuses to push the browser as a mandatory security update. Even so, I never thought I’d hear Microsoft talking about the ACID3 test. Fun times.

In the video presenting their new faster JavaScript engine, they’re using Gmail as an example of their JS compatability. They’re also comparing to Google Chrome (clearly treated as a competitor now) and Firefox. Is this the new open Microsoft?

So, faster, hardware accelerated and with CSS3 support. All good things. Now what I really need to know is: when will this benefit webdevelopers who’ve struggled with IE6 for nearly a decade. If a browser falls in a forest, and no-one is there to hear it, does it matter if it’s hardware accelerated?

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  1. Quick Thoughts On The IE9 PDC Preview: http://noscope.com/?p=5476

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