Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

IE 9: Hardware rendering, new JS engine, CSS, standards, and more

Category: Browsers, IE

With PDC going on, we get a glimpse at the early stage of IE 9. There is some promise, albeit with omissions!

Dean Hachamovitch, IE general manager, gives us an early look whirlwind that discusses:

Performance Progress

The JavaScript engine team members John Montgomery, Steve Lucco and Shanku Niyogi give us an early look at the new JS engine that will ship with IE 9.

Standards / CSS

Although the Acid test score is low:

It is early days, and we do have rounded corners and CSS selectors!

Dean and his team talk over the work they are doing wrt standards.

Hardware acceleration

Finally, IE 9 will surf on the GPU using DirectX/D2D. As well as speeding up performance all around, setting the platform up for CSS transforms etc, we also see side benefits such as nicer fonts.


What else have you heard from PDC?

Posted by Dion Almaer at 1:20 pm

2.9 rating from 42 votes


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Crossing my fingers, of course, for good news on Canvas, SVG, and WebGL.

Comment by Nosredna — November 18, 2009

The only real reason to hardware accelerate 2D graphics in a browser is for SVG, canvas or both. So hopefully we’ll hear some good news…

Comment by codedread — November 18, 2009

I just hope it will be standards compliant with the latest standards and they will force everyone who use ie to install it.

Comment by Unplugged — November 18, 2009

Looks like they want us to be satisfied with a 32/100 Acid3 score because a lot of it is in working-draft. Heard those excuses before, I guess we won’t see Canvas in IE9.

Comment by Jadet — November 18, 2009

Finally, rounded corners! Hallelujah!
Now, how about proper opacity and rgba support, fixing the box model, and getting rid of filters and instead just doing -ie-transform like every other normal browser?
Oh and lest I forget, once IE9 is out, release a vir… erm, windows update that targets every earlier version of I, kil… erm, uninstalls it and puts IE9 instead :d

Comment by iliad — November 18, 2009

Where’s the IE6 mode so the hold outs can upgrade (they did wonders with back compat on Win 7 – they seriously can’t do it for IE?). Canvas? SVG? – Are they still pursuing their strategy of obstruction wrt emerging web standards (heck even old standards)? Either strategy or some kind of anal retentiveness (which is pretty much what their official statements on the matter seem to boil down to – “we don’t wanna implement those features, and you can’t make us”).

I’ll believe they are serious about “web standards and interoperability” when we actually get some of that interoperability (32/100 on Acid3 – come on). They even broke features that some of their own customers spent their own time and money to utilizing to create some of that interoperability for them (the ExCanvas breakage with IE8).

I’m betting on something like Chrome Frame as the way forward. When there’s a bolder on the road ahead, you don’t stand there and wait for it to crawl away. You come up with a plan to deal with the obstruction. Chrome Frame is a pretty good answer for the obstruction that is IE and Microsoft on web standards.

Comment by CaptainN — November 18, 2009

STANDARDS!!!! that’s gonna be nice to have in IE for once. But the real question is, WHO’S standards?

Comment by jaimz — November 18, 2009

My wish list: video/audio tags, opacity without -ms-filter, get/setAttribute that works without hacks, faster DOM interaction, multiple file upload, box-model working in strict mode.

Comment by juanpin — November 18, 2009

Not sure what keynote you watched to get the impression that they want us to be happy with a score of 32. What they said was that the score has improved from 20 to 32 in the first 3 weeks of IE9 development. It’s not like IE9 will be released anytime soon.

Comment by sialivi — November 18, 2009

Well, I watched the JS segment and I wish those guys well. They seem like good guys. Just want me some canvas. :-)

Comment by Nosredna — November 18, 2009

My wish list: nobody ever uses it no matter how good it is.

Comment by okonomiyaki3000 — November 18, 2009

my wish list:
100% acid
rounded corners
box and text shadows

html5 elements (video, audio, header, footer, navigation, article, etc)

ie8, ie7 and ie6 compliant mode

AND force all users to upgrade

Comment by DamirSecki — November 18, 2009

My Wish list:

Proper implementation of globalStorage & applicationCache
100% Acid 3

Comment by Transfinite — November 18, 2009

@sialivi: You can read the excuses about the low Acid3 score in the blogpost, it’s also mentioned there that the 32/100 score is based on the latest build. The score being the same as the one they had 3 weeks in development is a good indicator of where the IE team has its priorities.

Comment by Jadet — November 18, 2009

My wish list is that they had started all this 12 months ago.. before IE8 was even out the door.

I think there are a lot of surprised people out there who expected to get an IE9 beta from PDC, but instead get a ‘Hell yea we’re working on IE9.. started it like.. 3 weeks ago!’….


Comment by meandmycode — November 18, 2009

I thought there’d be dozens of comments here, but it seems that the action is the comment area on IE9 is at

Lots of encouragement to move to Webkit.

Comment by Nosredna — November 18, 2009

“The score being the same as the one they had 3 weeks in development” what the hell are you talking about? What are you comparing it to? The blog, keynote and videos are all talking about the same build (more or less).

Comment by sialivi — November 18, 2009

My wishlist;
* Developers stops developing for the IE rendering engine and instead uses Chrome Frame
* IE looses market shares till it reaches market shares so insignificantly small that developers even don’t bother with injecting Chrome Frame anymore
* IE dies
* Silverlight dies
* SharePoint dies
* OOXML dies
* Microsoft finally realizes that they are “not the gravity” and starts focusing on their *real* products, which actually holds any value like .Net and Visual Studio. Plus hopefully manages to implement Windows 8 in such a way that it’s a nice coop citizen which makes end users have an actual choice instead of their current (and self-proclaimed) tactics of using “Decommoditization of Network Protocols” – ref; Halloween Documents – to lock out other vendors and players…
The problem with current Microsoft is not their *lack* of “innovation”, it’s the fact of that 99% of their innovation is purely 100% *LOCK-IN* innovation…!
Drop the lock-ins, and you’ll see that other vendors stops using “lock-outs” …
Currently Microsoft (although they don’t realize it *yet*) have much more to loose on “lock-out” by other vendors than they have potential to win on “lock-in” of own customers…

Comment by ThomasHansen — November 18, 2009

Does Microsoft really have to release IE9? Can’t they just admit that they’ve screwed up the internet enough and leave quietly like George Bush did?

Dropping IE as a product seems like the most sensible option for them. It’s not like IE makes money for them, anyway.

Comment by tedpennings — November 19, 2009

Reading the comments on the IE-blog, I get ashamed of the community. It really is not worthy.

Comment by elygre — November 19, 2009

It’s well known that inside microsoft the office team rules the roost, and it seems that the primary driver here is Office Web. They’re dramatically upgrading the performance and rendering quality so Office Web gets a first-class experience on IE9. I’m assuming that for charting they’ll want canvas or SVG at the very least (the Office Web guys have no particular affinity for silverlight, they want everything to work without it). This is good news for us web app developers, because what’s good for office web is good for all of the ajax community.

Comment by Joeri — November 19, 2009

I knew that there wasn’t a point installing IE8!

Comment by ajaxus — November 19, 2009

@Damir: “… ie8, ie7 and ie6 compliant mode AND force all users to upgrade” why the f*ck the compliant modes then?

Every MS news get MS bashing for sure. In the early days MS release it own additions to the HTML/CSS etc. standard and was evil evil evil. Today Apple adds features it needs for the iphone and it the good good good and so inovative.

Double standards for everyone.

Competition is good! So they shall release IE9, IE10 and so forth.

I am using FF, but I’m not an bashing idiot.

Comment by Aimos — November 19, 2009

@Aimos: Obviously, the compliant mode is for legacy systems that rely on the IE6/7/8 engines to work. And the forcing is necessary so that us developers can finally make use of new technologies.
And about double standards: your example would make sense if Apple implemented their own standards WITHOUT implementing the industry standards. Currently they’re just adding sugar on top. That is not really what MS is doing, now is it?

Comment by MartijnHoutman — November 19, 2009

Nice. I’m looking forward to seeing the IE9 JS engine in action. Hopefully the release of 9 will give IT people more motivation to stop using 6 in their organizations.

Comment by WillPeavy — November 19, 2009

“And about double standards: your example would make sense if Apple implemented their own standards WITHOUT implementing the industry standards. Currently they’re just adding sugar on top. That is not really what MS is doing, now is it?”

I’d complaining about Apple adding their own standards, except FF, Opera, and Chrome (of course, being based on Webkit) quickly pick them up as de facto standards. If IE would quickly pick them up as de facto standards as well, I wouldn’t complain about Microsoft. I think when IE8 came out without canvas that was the last straw for me. One of the IE guys saw me complaining and asked what cool stuff was being done with canvas. Why don’t they KNOW?

Microsoft has enough money to BOTH being adding standards, the de facto stuff as it comes in, AND their own innovations.

Comment by Nosredna — November 19, 2009

I’m glad to see progress! I mostly wish I could get my hands on an alpha.

Comment by souders — November 19, 2009

@Aimos: Martijn explained it perfectly

I don’t get why MS wont just adopt webkit rendering engine in their browser it is most complete right now… so they could focus on ui of the browser and implementation of new functionality

why banging the head into the wall?

Comment by DamirSecki — November 19, 2009

Yay! Another reason to do checks, patches, and hacks on every site and app I ever made to see if everything still works \o/

I can’t wait ’till this will come out

Comment by SchizoDuckie — November 19, 2009

someone please make it stop…

Comment by akdetrick — November 19, 2009

They could have had superfast javascript years ago, they let Silverlight run with (.NET CLR managed JScript in SL 1.1 alpha, or even DLR’d JScript in SL 2.0) it instead of asking the team – “hey, make this compatible with jscript.dll and we can stick it in the browser!”

The mentioning of this being done to support the Office web stuff – YES! It’s not to make google chrome or firefox users happy.

Offloading to the graphics card – that’s something to look forward to. Are any of the other (being WebKit, Opera, Mozilla) browsers doing this?

Comment by blinkingmarquee — November 19, 2009

Yes, Apple adds nonstandard features, and Microsoft adds nonstandard features to their browsers. Aside from what previous posters have pointed out though, there is also a difference of quality and intent when it comes to HOW these two companies add new browser features.

When Apple adds a new feature, they add it to an OPEN SOURCE repository, and they immediately make efforts to make it standardized. When they add a new feature it tends to be relatively well designed, (though that seems to be a matter of debate), and it works really well, and as others pointed out, quickly gets picked up by other browsers.

When microsoft adds a new feature, they add it to their closed source browser, poorly document it, design it so that it unreasonably depends on some core windows API or some other windows specific feature. Their funny browser features are often quite buggy, some crashing the browser, and opening up serious security holes they then refuse to close or fix, because corporate partners depend on them (read: activex). They otherwise put every obstacle in the way of other browsers adopting it as a defacto standard, including, but not limited to, very poor communications. The result and intention of all this is obvious: Vendor lock-in.

So yes, you could say that when Apple adds a new feature it is good, and when Internet Explorer does it, it is bad. But it’s not a double standard, it’s a statement of fact.

Comment by Breton — November 19, 2009

“I don’t get why MS wont just adopt webkit rendering engine in their browser it is most complete right now… so they could focus on ui of the browser and implementation of new functionality
why banging the head into the wall?”
because of all the funny proprietary features (like activex) that only IE has, and other browsers don’t. And the vast array of intranet applications irresponsibly written and tested only in IE6. And the vast array of intranet apps that are STILL BEING WRITTEN TODAY, right this second, to only work in IE6.
MS refuses to “break the web” by removing those features. Whenever you see someone from MS say “Break the web” read “break the intranets of our corporate partners”.

Comment by Breton — November 19, 2009

Yeah what they really should do is force users to upgrade atleast.

for christ sake IE6 is the biggest load of crap. it doesn’t have png support so developers have to hack their way into making pngs work. what a load of bull.

Unfortunatly for us, Microsoft promises to support a browser until the OS that it orginally came installed on is no longer supported. IE6 came with XP, and I don’t see XP going away too soon

Comment by jaimz — November 19, 2009

Microsoft deserved all the criticism they got for mothballing IE after IE6. It was a transparent attempt to protect Windows’ monopoly at the expense of technical progress. But the kind of childish, uninformed abuse that is heaped on them in comment threads like this is idiotic. It reads like a particularly embarrassing Slashdot thread, full of Linux nerds moaning about “Micro$haft Internut Exploder!!!1”

Personally I think IE9 looks great, and I’m willing to bet it will have support for Canvas, SVG, CSS 3 and a lot more besides. At the same time, I’m hoping Microsoft have the courage to innovate, and to disregard some of the more stupid parts of HTML 5. So long as they follow Apple’s example of prefixing things with -ms- and publishing a vague description in a W3C formatted document, presumably everybody will be OK with whatever features they add. Although somehow I doubt it. I suspect some of you would complain even if IE 9 gave you a winning lottery ticket every time you launched it.

Comment by Amtiskaw — November 19, 2009

@Amtiskaw I think MS is responsible for some of the stupid parts of HTML5, such as the drag and drop API. what stupid parts are you talking about?

Comment by Breton — November 19, 2009


that’s why I suggested they adopt webkit as IE9 rendering engine and include legacy compliant modes for older browsers (IE8, IE7, IE6). Like they do have now in IE8 for IE7 and it is the best solution… so that users would surf the web using new rendering engine and older apps would still work and user could choose to render that specific page in ie6 compliant mode (trident)

This would solve all the problems of the web… I just don’ see why M$ doesn’t want to!

maybe they want new engine for online office? could be… but they should stil include leghacy compliant modes down to ie6 and FORCE users to upgare!

Comment by DamirSecki — November 20, 2009

IE 9, another failure. Mr. Montgomery, i’ve called your end from the beginning.

Comment by jaysmith — November 20, 2009

MS is never going to “adopt Webkit.” They want to have a web browser, that they fully control, to serve as a platform for Office Online and ASP.NET.

Comment by WillPeavy — November 20, 2009

If they want corporate America to upgrade to IE9 they need to have IE6 compatibility mode like IE8 has for IE7. I work for a top 500 company, 40K+ employees, where XP and IE6 is still the standard. Part of the problem is that we have too many intranet web applications in production that were developed back in the IE6 hay days. Upgrading to IE8+ would break most of these web apps. Most of the original developers of these web apps have moved on or have been let go. So this is the pickle that most of corporate America has to deal with.

I hope Microsoft is listening… IE9 better have IE6 compatibility mode or corporate America will be happy to stay on XP and IE6. How about an IE9 Corporate edition with this capability?

Comment by mmastro — November 20, 2009

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