Facilitating the Spread of Knowledge and Innovation in Professional Software Development

Write for InfoQ


Choose your language

InfoQ Homepage News Last IE9 Platform Preview Available with Improved Performance and Standards Compliance

Last IE9 Platform Preview Available with Improved Performance and Standards Compliance

This item in japanese

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

In the fourth Platform Preview, Microsoft has moved the JavaScript engine inside IE9. With this change, communication between the browser and script engine is now direct, which aims to improve performance. Now the browser has a single DOM, shared across all subsystems including JavaScript. This single DOM is based on ES5 (aka ECMA-262 5th Ed), making IE9 the first browser to have a fully discoverable DOM through ES5 reflection features.

Microsoft’s Dean Hachamovitch explains how different is this approach of tight integration, from the approach of other browsers where the JavaScript Engine is pluggable:

We’re committed to the right foundation for HTML5 applications, including performance and ensuring the same markup and same script work across browsers. One aspect of doing these things well is integrating the JavaScript engine natively inside the browser, rather than bolting it onto the side to support multiple JavaScript engines as some other browsers do today. How a JavaScript engine is integrated into the browser is as important as the engine itself for real-world HTML5.

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

SVG Support

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.

Standards Compliance

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

IE9 also passes all 43 tests in the test, which measures a browsers support for CSS3 Selectors.

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.

You can find more information on Browsers, Rich Internet Technologies, HTML5 and JavaScript, right here on InfoQ.

Rate this Article