The Internet Explorer team have been busy. VERY VERY busy! They’ve just announced the release of the fourth IE9 platform preview which gives you the opportunity to download and experience for yourself that amazing new capabilities, power and standards compliance of the new engines within IE9.
Like the prior three previews, the fourth platform preview does not include the usual IE user features – there are no tabs, no favorites, no toolbars. Microsoft is keeping the IE9 user experience under wraps for now, but you’ll be able to see it for yourself when the IE9 beta ships later this fall (current ETA is Sept 2010).
IE9’s core internals have been largely rewritten over the last 3-4 years and sports several key new features that, particularly when combined, result in IE9 re-setting the bar for browser performance and standards compliance:
- IE9’ insanely powerful new HTML rendering engine uses DirectX10 to offload most graphics oriented work to your PC’s GPU, freeing up your PC’s processor for more appropriate work while also massively improving the performance of graphics rendered within your browser
- Not to be outdone, the IE9 team also committed early-on to make IE9 as standards-compliant as possible – not just with existing standards like HTML4, XHTML 1.1, SVG 1.1 and CSS 2, but also with next-generation standards like HTML5 and CSS3.
Individually, these features are a very big deal: Standards support is a very big deal for web designers who are increasingly tired of having to code lots of special-case features of their sites to render correctly on IE vs. the other major browsers which tend to be more standards-compliant than IE is today. Script performance is a very big deal for those developing and using sophisticated new web sites that use a lot of script. Rendering performance is a very big deal for anyone who uses a browser.
Combined, however, these new features of IE9 promise to set the cat amongst the pigeons and re-set users’ expectations of what a browser can be and do. It will be fascinating to see Google, Mozilla, Opera, Apple and others work to compete against this now far more capable competitor.
Of course, these are not the only features that will ensure IE9’s success. Security and reliability are of paramount concern to a great many users today. IE7 and IE8 continued to improve IE’s security and reliability record, but IE9 really has to deliver the ability for pages to run in different sandboxes in order to assuage the concerns of the most security-conscious users. What IE9 offers in terms of security and reliability, we’ll have to wait until the beta to find out!
So, until then, what are you waiting for? Go download the fourth IE9 Platform Preview and play with some of the demos to experience IE9 for yourself.