It is every anti-XP’s fan favorite time of the week: when yet another interesting news tidbit marks the end of Windows XP. This week it is doubled by the fact that this tidbit it is a hope (and fear) of every anti-IE user of the world.
Microsoft released the test platform for Internet Explorer 9 at MIX 10 yesterday. Normally, the internet just does a big yawn whenever a new IE is released, as it is just a rehashing of the same old flawed and vanilla browser known as Internet Explorer 6. Microsoft has known for years that, even amongst non-geeks and home users, it was losing a significant market share, and kept mocking our intelligence with the marginally improved releases of IE7 and 8. However, a new dawn has risen over Redmond, and for once Microsoft seems to care about being relevant in the browser wars.
Internet Explorer 9 plays a major game of catch-up, implementing many overdue features. The most notable of these of course is HTML 5. HTML 5, the supposed godsend for the Internet destined to end the tyranny of plug-ins like Flash everywhere, has been sitting on Firefox, Chrome, and Safari for some time now. Still, it is good to see Microsoft joining the fray, and it is holding back no punches in updating support for the new web under HTML 5. It has weighed in on the HTML video wars, showing off H.264 support on YouTube.
Still, IE9 has one ace up its sleeve: Direct2D Acceleration. That’s right, Microsoft has drastically improved the render graphics quality and performance for IE by using hardware acceleration. The result is much smoother HTML 5 video viewing and and SVG rendering than the norm of HTML 5 browsers. There is really no comparison between IE9 and the others for rendering. However, the cost for this is using drivers that only came into play after Windows Vista. You guessed it: there’s no Windows XP support. XP has no future in Microsoft’s world, and it probably shouldn’t in yours either.
If you want to play around with the IE9 platform, feel free to go on its website. IE9 isn’t even in the alpha stages yet, and the platform just renders webpages so far and not much else. You have a pop-up box to input URLs and no forward and back buttons. Still, if you are into web development, it might be worth a look.