Microsoft Confirm IE9 Development

Contributing Editor

IE9 developmentThe browser developers love to hate is being rebuilt. Microsoft started work on Internet Explorer 9.0 a few weeks ago and showed off some of the new features at their Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles. So what can we expect?

Improved CSS and JavaScript

IE9 will offer CSS3 selectors and rounded corners (it’s about time). JavaScript performance will also be improved, although Microsoft has a long way to go before they catch up competitor’s browsers.

Direct2D (D2D)

IE9 will support hardware-accelerated text and graphics using Microsoft’s new Direct2D (D2D) system. D2D utilizes Windows DirectX to improve client-side rendering. It will be used by default, so developers will not need to change their CSS or JS code libraries. The result will be sharper text, better graphics and smoother animation using fewer system resources (much of the rendering effort will be handled by the graphics processor).

Browser text without Direct2D:

no D2D

Browser text with Direct2D:

with D2D

According to Dean Hachamovitch, IE General Manager:

Our goal is to deliver better performance across the board for real-world sites, not just benchmarks.

Although would Dean be saying that if IE wasn’t languishing at the bottom of the benchmark tables?!

Release Date?

No IE9 release date has been announced but I suspect it’s at least a year away. More importantly, I hope Microsoft does not drop support for Windows XP. The OS may be ageing, but it’s still the most widely-adopted version of Windows. If IE9 supports Vista/7 only, it’ll be another reason for users to stick with IE6.

Personally, I’m glad Microsoft is continuing to upgrade Internet Explorer. Are you? Or will it simply add another version of IE to your increasingly long browser test list?

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  • Nah

    Dean Hamatovich is chode central. IE sucks so bad and they still refuse to recognize what the browser needs to do, instead, force feed us what they think the browser should do. This is why IE is so utterly BROKEN. Use Chrome, FF or Opera, folks.

  • chillybin

    good news

  • phweeee

    The web needs competition in the brower market place to promote innovation and use of standards. However much the web development community at large detests this slow, out-of-touch product, IE9 will be another step towards a standardised web.

    Having said that – come on MS you can do better than anti-aliased text and rounded corners. Can’t you…?

  • AtomWorks

    I hate the stress IE brings to the table when your coding for the web, but I don’t think they are the evil we make them out to be.

    Through software patent law cases against them and other guidelines they’ve had to adhere to it has actually not been entirely their fault that a lot of things are bad about IE. I think with every version that appears of IE we see them making an effort to help us designers and developers out… every new version is essentially one step closer to what we want, and step-by-step is better then not at all.

  • madr

    From my part, they should either go all-in with border-radius, box-shadow, text-shadow and rgba or none of it. These 4 properties combined give true strength, potentially erasing loads and loads of background-images out there.

    border-radius alone won’t help that much as I still need background-images to achieve shadows.

  • ricktheartist

    BRING IT ON IE9! My company is already working with me on phasing out IE6 support. <dance type=”developer” mood=”happy” />. To get rid of IE7 would be a major achievement and the release of IE9 puts us that much closer. IE9 will have to be 1 year old for me to begin lobbying for that.

  • http://www.lunadesign.org awasson

    Yeah, I’ll be happy to see another version of IE if it makes IE6 that less popular. I don’t mind supporting IE7, and IE8 causes me no problems at all. It’s just IE6 that needs to be shoved further down the line (and under a bus).

  • http://abeautifulsite.net/ aksival

    Definitely happy to see forward motion with IE. I think MS is finally realizing how badly they dropped the ball when IE6 grew stagnant. +1 for rounded corners via CSS, but they’re still a far cry from where Webkit and Gecko have been for quite awhile.

  • Anonymous

    Hooray? Round corners, good I guess.

  • steppinout

    hopefully, IE9 will support rounded corner (CSS3).

  • Damian

    Seriously, rounded corners? If IE and everyone else starts focusing on the ‘buzz’ words of standards driven development, we’ll very likely end up with a very patchy CSS3-compliant IE9 and only in IE12 will we stop finding ‘CSS3 hacks’ for IE9…

    It’s probably about time they actually discontinued Internet Explorer. I mean, Windows isn’t going to disappear any time soon, and if they keep bundling browsers with the OS, people will keep using them, and we’ll always be coding for browsers 3 versions back.

  • Stevie D

    As long as every change MS makes moves them closer to full standards support and compliance, I am delighted with every new release. They may still lag behind other browsers in some areas, but if they are taking steps to improve then that has to be a positive thing, and will allow us to use ever more advanced features without needing lots of forking code.

    I would not be happy about an IE release that introduced any new rendering or implementation bugs, or that was less standards-compliant in any area than the previous version. I would also be very disappointed if IE9 was not available on Windows XP, and would consider that a retrograde step.

  • http://www.iamdash.net/ Dashman

    Why couldn’t they have just gotten it right in the first place with IE7?

  • Jasconius

    Nothing wrong with IE8. Not *much* wrong with IE7. No more than is quirky about Firefox (two floats in a container anyone?).

  • James

    I still don’t understand why Microsoft can’t get a pair and admit how far behind IE is and how it’s holding back the web, and just start from scratch and have their next version hit ALL the standards up-to-date.
    To my mind there is no excuse *at all* for releasing something that has such obvious gaps in standards support. If everyone else gets Acid3 100% by the time IE9 is released, Microsoft managers should be roasted alive if they dare release something that doesn’t. Very simple really.
    The problem is, nobody here really expects IE9, upon its final release, to cover everything that the others do *now*, let alone what they’ll be supporting in a year’s time.
    Microsoft need a huge kick up the arse but nobody in this world is big or powerful enough to make them listen, I fear.

  • joybells

    I suppose this means that IE6 hangers-on will probably hanging on even longer. After all if you’re in a corporate environment that is stuck on IE6, you won’t want to switch to IE7/8 and then again to IE9. We test our site with multiple browsers and the proliferation of browser versions is a real pain when you have a small design/ development team. It would be nice to have a ball-park release date?

  • http://www.joecianflone.com ChestRockwell

    Dear IE Team, just get HTML5 and CSS3 in your browser…for the love of god…do something right for once.

  • ClosingADoor

    IE6 usage is down to 4,4% for me last month. Every new version will bring it closer to zero I guess. I just stopped supporting advanced features for it.

  • http://www.waldenponder.com Hyperbolik

    I think the biggest problem with IE is that users aren’t encouraged enough to upgrade. Look at Firefox – users are prompted to upgrade and the process is made extremely simple. It doesn’t even require an OS restart. If IE could figure out how to easily upgrade their users it would be a whole lot simpler to code for. We wouldn’t be testing against IE6, IE7, IE8 and now IE9.

  • Makan

    Why does a large company like Microsoft needs to spend money and resrouces on developing another version of a the Internet explorer when other browsers do similar or (arguably) better job? In my humble opinion, I do not think the IE browser is one of the main selling points of Windows systems. It’s just another heacache of keep releasing security patches facelifts etc. There was a time that using a browser to explore your own hard drive seemed like a good idea, but I’m not sure anyone wants that anymore. In my mind Microsfot should leave the browser to the open source providers who are doing such a good and help them by unlocking all the hidden features they get penalties after penalty for, and stick to bettering the Operating system and the window manager itself.

  • http://www.lunadesign.org awasson

    I think the biggest problem with IE is that users aren’t encouraged enough to upgrade. Look at Firefox – users are prompted to upgrade and the process is made extremely simple.

    I agree 100% with that point Hyperbolik. If the browser auto-updated like Safari & FireFox we probably wouldn’t be having any IE6 issues. As far as coding goes, I code according to web standards and only make exceptions for IE6. IE7 is reasonably well behaved and IE8 is no problem.

  • http://www.clearwind.nl peach

    Great news, short cycles between versions means rapid adaption of new technology, Microsoft is finally getting the right idea with IE

  • Give it up MS!

    Unfortunately alot of our projects are Govnt based and they are all still on IE6.

    The only thing I am expecting from IE9 is another conditional statement.

    Why don’t MS have any ambition? Yes, when Ie9 is released in 2012 it will do everything that other current browsers do right now. Well, here’s a newsflash, other browsers will have moved on by then. Give it up MS!

  • Stevie D

    If the browser auto-updated like Safari & FireFox we probably wouldn’t be having any IE6 issues.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    The majority of people using IE6 cannot upgrade to IE7. Either because they are using Windows 2000 or older, which IE7 doesn’t support, and/or because they are using a locked corporate network, which would be no more likely to upgrade with auto-updates because the reason for not updating is not down to the need for manual intervention.

    The reasons that IE6 is still with us are partly that it had no auto-update feature, but more significantly because pre-XP users can’t upgrade and because web apps that were written for IE6 won’t work on anything else.

  • http://www.joke4me.com robbin.joe

    I hate IE, any version of IE.

  • http://www.lunadesign.org awasson

    @Stevie D
    Thanks for punctuating and reinforcing my point ; )

    There is no technical reason why Windows 2000 should be left out of IE7/IE8/IE9. Furthermore there is no reason why an IT department wouldn’t roll out updates manually. It’s their job to make sure all the workstations are up to date.

    As far as web apps go… They can be rewritten. It’s not as though technology has been standing still over the last half a dozen years. Better, more secure apps are faster to develop which work better with IE7/IE8 that IE6 ever did. I’ve even authored a few .NET apps that blur the line between MS Office and the web or intranet for reporting and data analysis.

    So… Any idea why IE7/8 are only available for XP and up when everything else is backwards compatible?

  • chuckchillout

    It’s not coincidence nor surprising that they plan to release a decent browser (as compared to FF, Safari, Chrome) once the EU forces a level playing field for them via browser ballots in windows setup.

  • http://www.xguides.net Dakota G

    Microsoft should just continue to build their crappy OS and not waste their time and money trying to totally rebuild a terrible browser. Google has virtually given up on IE: Google Wave has a prepared error screen for IE 7, YouTube looks horrible on IE – especially without rounded corners.

    Companies are breaking their backs to make new features and IE just causes more problems than they need.

    Microsoft seems to have a long way to catch up in browsers and OS’s… It’s ironic how the worst browser and worst OS still have the majority of the market share.

  • cob

    onwards and upwards I suppose…

  • Me

    Micrsoft, just accept your loss and move your IE developers to the WebKit team (or fire them for the lousy job they’ve been doing all these years), and make IE9 use WebKit instead of freaking Trident.
    Please?

  • myuller

    I wish IE9 use from the turn of a strong crypt code.
    AES-256bit,CAMELLIA-256bit,…No More RC4_128bit_MD5 :-)