Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

New IE9 Preview: Performance, Hardware Acceleration, and Acid3

Category: Browsers, IE

<>p>At MIX, Microsoft showed that they are back in the browser game with a preview of IE9 “platform” (platform seems to mean ‘haven’t got it together as a real browser yet, but we wanted to get it to you guys ASAP’).

Today, they updated the preview as they said they would (claiming they will do new releases every 8 weeks or so).

Table stakes these days is performance. IE8 is so far behind, but the IE team is showing that with IE9 they will be strong contenders:

To go along with this, we haver the GPU story of hardware acceleration. Test drive some new demos such as this Flickr Explorer or the browser flip

There are other tools too:

The Developer Tools in IE9 Platform Preview 2 include new features. The Console window is now a full tab that includes diagnostic information from IE. Developers can use the “Change User Agent String” menu item to experiment with sending different that UA strings to sites with every request, selecting from preset strings or creating their own custom string. This complements another feature we’ve included – the new IE9 UA string. (Steve! Update BrowserScope! :)

This is good timing. Giorgio Sardo of Microsoft is on a browser panel that Ben and I are moderating at Web 2.0 Expo today. The panel has other heavy hitters: Douglas Crockford (Yahoo!), Brendan Eich (Mozilla), Charles McCathieNevile (Opera Software), and Alex Russell (Google). We are going to have some fun :)

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Posted by Dion Almaer at 11:06 am
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Love the H/A demo but I have to ask, has anyone seen Opera run these demos? They aren’t as fast as IE9 but they’re pretty friggin close and this is without H/A.

Comment by frio80 — May 5, 2010

Will there be a video of the panel discussion online after the event?

Comment by mattcrwi — May 5, 2010

For me, if there is still no canvas tag – this time round – they’ll really have missed the boat.

Comment by asimu — May 5, 2010

I have to assume the hardware acceleration is going to require DX10 or DX11 which is not available on Windows XP which means netbooks, which badly need the acceleration vs high powered desktops, will not benefit.

Comment by ck2 — May 5, 2010

If the IE team can implement the full HTML5/CSS3 spec, then I’m switching for the hardware acceleration madness (seriously, IE9 in a VM runs faster than Chrome native!).

Comment by Baryn — May 5, 2010

Nothing will get me to use any version of IE. Ever.

Comment by okonomiyaki3000 — May 5, 2010

@ck2: I seem to recall reading somewhere that IE9 won’t run on XP… full stop. :/ Googling says it was Gizmodo, citing a ZDNet article.

Comment by barryvan — May 5, 2010

“…the new IE9 UA string. (Steve! Update BrowserScope! :)”
.
See:
http://code.google.com/p/browserscope/issues/detail?id=181&can=1&q=ie9

Comment by WillPeavy — May 5, 2010

When the first information about IE 9 started to trickle out, I was pretty skeptical. They were using a lot of the same language that they used running up to the releases of IE 7 and IE 8, both of which were huge disappointments in terms of interoperability (hey, Microsoft, that’s your word… the rest of us talk about standards compliance) and performance. The improvements in IE 9 speak volumes about a sea change at Microsoft and in the IE project. IE is now poised to become a modern browser, for the first time in almost a decade.

With that said, no canvas support is a pretty bitter pill to swallow. Canvas is one of the most compelling HTML5 features; I can’t understand the rationale for ignoring it, and it’s downright stupid that they haven’t talked about it.

Nevermind the train wreck that is H.264.

But seriously, with those caveats aside, this is the most compelling IE effort since the browser space became competitive after Netscape tanked. When we didn’t know what was coming, I was convinced that the only way for Microsoft to revive IE was to wrap an IE interface around WebKit. Microsoft has proved me wrong.

Comment by eyelidlessness — May 5, 2010

if they implement canvas, they would support the drift that apple tries to initiate, which is, to go without flash torwards html5. i think microsoft is going to show us, about what they care more: supporting the user or slow down the competitor

Comment by Novalis — May 6, 2010

What do you need canvas for? The things that canvas does that SVG doesn’t are stuff like audio visualization, video effects, webcam processing, … Without decent integration with audio, video and native devices canvas isn’t much use. I think MS has correctly realized that canvas simply isn’t that important to have, even for next-gen web apps.
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Still, I expect they’ll get around to it eventually.

Comment by Joeri — May 6, 2010

To Novalis,

How is that different from all of the other new technologies IE 9 supports? Microsoft has clearly embraced (to some extent) the bulk of the new technologies coming down the browser pipeline, with the notable exception of canvas. What makes canvas more of a threat than SVG or CSS3 or HTML5 video?

* * *

Joeri,

Canvas and SVG are two very different technologies. SVG is a document whose structure and component objects can be modified directly; canvas is literally a 2D surface with a few primitives and basically no state that can be manipulated directly except pixel data. One of the obvious differences implied by this is performance: canvas is a much lighter-weight drawing platform than SVG.

One of the obvious utilities of canvas that hasn’t been implemented in SVG is Processing.js, John Resig’s Processing interpreter written in Javascript. Could it be implemented in SVG? I don’t doubt that it could. How would it perform? Probably not so great.

There’s no reason that I’m aware of that SVG can’t be scripted to do audio visualization, video effects or webcam processing. And I’m fairly sure all of those (probably save webcam) have already been implemented in canvas, and I’m guessing you realize that, which raises the question: why are you saying it has no utility but these applications… and it isn’t useful to have? Isn’t that a contradiction?

I suspect they’ll probably get around to it, but probably not in IE 9. After a second developer preview is hardly the time to announce a major new feature like that.

Comment by eyelidlessness — May 6, 2010

As much as i’m thankful for the IE team working so hard to make IE9 the best they’ve ever done, and i have to admit it’s pretty damn fine i still have two misgivings.

1. don’t limit it to a particular o/s version (currently will not install on anything below Vista SP2), by doing so your giving the XP home’s out there are reason to stick to IE6/7/8 if it were on XP too we could end this browser mess bigtime.

2. please don’t bash the open-source projects like Chrome, Firefox, etc. they’ve done a lot of work the get where they are, loads of man hours and late nights just to push the standard forward. it’s a thankless task and they’ve done miracles to get there.

do 1) and i’ll forgive you for all the thousands of hours and missed christmases i’ve had to fix your browsers, may even become a IE fanboy.

;-)

Comment by johnantoni — May 7, 2010

Works very good here in Opera 10.53 on Linux. I have 50 fps on not so new hardware. And Opera still doesn’t have HW accelerated graphic engine.

Comment by movax — May 8, 2010

“…and ACID3″

How is this related to ACID3?

Comment by RichardDavies — May 13, 2010

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