What’s Coming in Internet Explorer 10

When Microsoft released Internet Explorer 9.0, we hoped it would mark the end of their traditional 2-year release schedule. Less than one month later, the company has announced their plans for IE10 and released a Platform Preview download.

Unlike previous chunky updates, IE10 currently offers a few minor improvements over IE9…

New CSS3 Properties

IE10 will support CSS3 gradients (W3C Draft Specification) and the following properties can be applied to element backgrounds:

  • -ms-linear-gradient
  • -ms-radial-gradient
  • -ms-repeating-linear-gradient
  • -ms-repeating-radial-gradient

Usefully, Microsoft has provided a CSS Gradient Background Maker on their Test Drive website.

If floated elements are causing you grief, IE10 will offer several alternative layouts methods:

Flexbox and multi-column layouts are supported in other browsers (with vendor prefixes), so the technologies should become feasible if you’re happy to accept a downgraded appearance in IE9 and below. Assuming no other vendors beat Microsoft, IE10 will be the first browser to support Grid Alignment.

Look out for more CSS3 layout tutorials on SitePoint soon.

JavaScript (ECMAScript 5) Strict Mode

A new use strict; command puts your code into strict mode. This offers more robust parsing, improved error checking, and will highlight potential compatibility issues with future editions of the language.

New User Agent

IE10’s new user agent string is:

Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 10.0; Windows NT 6.1; Trident/6.0)

It will be interesting to see if IE befalls the same issue Opera encountered when moving to version 10. They discovered many sites using flawed browser sniffing techniques which only parsed the first digit, assumed the browser was Opera 1, and degraded or blocked the site. To counteract the problem, Opera uses the version 9.80 in its User Agent string.

While browser sniffing stinks, it’s enjoyed a recent resurgence in popularity as developers start supporting mobile devices. Perhaps it’s time to double-check your code?

When Will IE10 be Released?

Microsoft has not committed to a date. There are rumors that beta 1 will appear during September 2011 with the final edition appearing in March 2012 — 12 months after IE9’s launch. That seems a little sedate given the small number of improvements. Perhaps Microsoft will surprise us with an earlier release or additional features? (HTML5 forms please!)

Whatever happens, Microsoft seems likely to break their 2-year release rut.

note: Users flock from Flock

In other news, the Flock browser will be discontinued as of April 26, 2011. The application, based on Mozilla’s Gecko engine, was primarily aimed at social networking users.

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  • Drew

    Looks like -ms-linear-gradient as a background works correctly when border-radius is specified (unlike the filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.gradient(…) in IE9 and under), so that’s nice. I hope they get around to adding support for text-shadow this time.

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      Agreed. Text shadow really should have been in IE9.

    • Nate

      I found a great little “attached behavior” for IE that brings support for css3 shadows, gradients, and border-radius. It’s called PIE (love the name), and you can get it here: http://css3pie.com/
      I’m not affiliated with them in any way, I just happened to start using it the other day and it’s allowed me to feel much better about using these styles, rather than the same tired old image placements I’ve been doing for years.

      • Alex

        Yeah I’ve used this multiple times and it’s pretty amazing.

  • Wolf_22

    * And a few people in a mostly-vacant auditorium moan the word, “Yay…” *

  • Nick Wilcox

    What’s the point Microsoft? In order to be able to use IE 9/IE 10 features, I would need to unload the deadweight that is IE6, IE7, and IE8.

    -please stop support of those antiquated browsers so we can ALL MOVE FORWARD!

  • Steve H

    “CSS3 Grid Alignment”? Aren’t they reinventing the “table”?

    • xzyfer

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t that already been done with the display: table-* properties, which BTW all other major browsers already support?

      CSS3 Grid Alignment is a great step forward and will hopefully put an end to CSS grid frameworks. Not that I have anything against them simply that more css = slower websites

      • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

        They are similar concepts, but Grid Alignment is a little more complex. For example, it permits the HTML source elements to be in any order, elements can be stacked, and specific UI items can be made to expand or shrink when the window dimensions or orientation changes.

        Essentially, Grid Alignment should be great for form layouts whereas display: table is ideally suited to content.

  • Emil

    I dont like these limitations to certain OS, IE is not only limited to Windows but to latest version now. Users will just move away from IE with this policy from Microsoft which is good thing because we can see that MS care only for Windows sales…

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      IE9 can only be installed on Windows Vista or 7.

      It gets worse, though. There are rumors that IE10 will be Windows 7 only (assuming Windows 8 hasn’t been released). XP users are stuck on IE8 and Vista users are stuck on IE9. That’s currently around 75% of all Windows users. The percentage will drop, but it’ll take a long time to become insignificant.

      • Paul McKeown

        “There are rumors that IE10 will be Windows 7 only (assuming Windows 8 hasn’t been released).”

        Grrr. If that’s the case, then I think it’s time to move the world to Linux. Dreadful.

        It looked like IE8 was in danger of becoming the new IE6, with a requirement to support it on XP for a long, long time into the future. Now it looks like we will have to support IE9 on Vista long past its sell by date, simply because of “cunning” (translate as “annoyingly one-eyed and monopolistic”) marketing plans from MS.

        So in a year’s time, even if we didn’t need to support IE6, we would still need to support:
        XP: IE7 and IE8
        Vista: IE7, IE8 and IE9
        Win 7: IE8, IE9 and IE10
        Win 8: IE10
        In some cases we will still need to support IE6 as well.

        I really think MS need to consider that very carefully.

  • Akram

    Microsoft only trying to fix errors on IE… whereas its rivals like Mozilla, Opera, Apple and Google trying to invent something new… innovation!!!

    IE will be fully HTML5 compatible when other browser vendors will start working on HTML7… Fact!

    • Anonymous

      @Akram: There isn’t a versioning system any more for HTML. There isn’t an official “HTML 5″ standard now (the WHATWG calls it a “living specificiation” — surely you didn’t miss this story on Sitepoint a while ago) and there won’t be a “7”. It’s a matter of which of the latest cool features various browsers do or do not support (like the new possibilties for doing forms that Craig refers to above) in a process of continuous enhancement. Some browsers will always do some things that others don’t, and that will always be the way it is.

      • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

        The W3C hasn’t dropped version numbering yet but it’s becoming increasingly irrelevant. Like it or not, ‘HTML5′ has become a brand name rather than a reference to any particular technology revision.

        As you point out, it really doesn’t matter: no browser is ever likely to be fully HTML5 compliant. Browsers will either support a feature or they won’t. You’ll always need to resort to progressive enhancement or shims to work around those issues.

      • Alex Hall

        @Craig

        I thought the W3C had decided against any numbering system at all and that the “brand” was simply going to be “HTML” from now on?

      • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

        Hi Alex.

        At the time of writing, only WHATWG (where HTML5 originated) has dropped the numbering and has moved to a “living document”. The W3C is still using version numbering so we could see HTML6 specifications. Although it won’t be for many years.

  • Tharuva

    will IE 10 come up with a spell checker ?