Last IE9 Platform Preview Available with Improved Performance and Standards Compliance
Microsoft has released the fourth and last preview version of Internet Explorer 9, which features hardware acceleration, deep integration with the JS engine and has improvements in performance and adoption of standards like SVG, CSS, HTML5, etc.
HTML5 Hardware Acceleration
Although this is not the first time that a beta/unofficial version of a browser has had support for GPU accelaration, IE9 might be the first browser to fully support hardware-accelerated SVG, canvas, video, audio, and text:
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.
It is important to note, that up until a few months ago, IE 9 <canvas> support was just a rumor until AMD had publically applaud Microsoft for the hardware acceleration for <canvas>.
JS Engine Integration
With this Paltform Preview, IE9 scores significantly better in the Webkit Sunspider microbenchmark, than it did in the past:
Browser Sunspider Result Average (ms) IE8 3746 IE9 PDC 2009 Demo 832 Firefox 3.6.3 736 IE9 Platform Preview #1 590 Firefox 4.0 Pre-Release Beta2 519 IE9 Platform Preview #2 473 IE9 Platform Preview #3 347 Safari 5.0 328 IE9 Platform Preview #4 326 Chrome 5.0.375.125 276 Chrome 6 Nightly 6.0.472.11 249 Opera 10.6 246
The Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format, is becoming a first class citizen in IE9. It seems that SVG will be a strategic choice for Microsoft in order to support vector graphics in the next generation of web apps. Since SVG browser implementations haven’t been fast enough in the past, Microsoft is emphasizing the fact that the hardware acceleration will make possible new applications of SVG:
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.
Internet Explorer is currently (v8) the only major modern browser that doesn’t support SVG natively and has been even publicly criticized by the “inventor or the WWW” Tim Berners-Lee for that.
With IE9 Microsoft is aiming to get a high degree of standards compliance, compared to IE8 which had minimal support for things like HTML5, lagging far behind its competitors:
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
Microsoft’s chief operating officer Kevin Turner has stated that his company will be releasing the first beta of Internet Explorer 9 in September 2010.
Developers can download and try out the IE9 preview, which requires Windows Vista or Windows 7.