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IE9 Beta Available Today

Posted by | Posted in Geek Stuff, Technology | Posted on 16-09-2010

To be honest, I’ve not used IE since Firefox came out, so I’m probably going to struggle to see the difference between IE8 and IE9. Still, like most good developers, I’ll be downloading the beta and trying it out. It’s also handy to see in advance whether the websites you’ve built are compatible.

There are a few good things that are being tooted as the next best thing in IE9. For starters, the web standards support has been greatly improved. Now, this has never been hard for IE to do, but it has to be said that IE7 and IE8 both made big strides when it came to standards support. IE9 hopes to improve that, with support for HTML5 and CSS3. HTML 5 is a hot topic for nerds the world over at the moment, as a lot of demo websites are springing up that allow a browser to demonstrate how well it copes with new standards such as HTML5 and CSS3.

IE9 is also supporting SVG (which has been supported by other browsers for years, but is seldom used). With the inclusion of the ‘canvas’, ‘audio’, and ‘video’ elements in HTML5, SVG will probably be used a little more, contrary to popular belief, and so the combination of old and new technologies will help developers, if not the end users.

Performance is another area where IE9 is seeking some improvements. Not only does it process Javascript by using the CPU directly, it’ll be built to utilise modern hardware, such as 64-bit OS’s and multi-core processors. Not only that, but (like a lot of new apps these days) IE9 will be able to make use of the graphics card GPU as well as the CPU to render animations and whatnot – meaning less CPU time is needed to render webpages, and said webpages can start to make use of the dedicated graphical processing power of the GPU. Graphics cards these days are like mini-PCs themselves, and so it would be silly not to try and find a way to use them.

IE9 also looks nicer, and has a much more minimal interface. It always struck me as annoying that so much of the screen was taken up with tabs and toolbars in IE, but Microsoft seem to be addressing that problem, and taking leaf out of Chrome’s book, they’ve cut back the clutter.

So what are the other browser vendors up to right now? Well, Mozilla has already released umpteen beta versions of Firefox 4. Aside from seeing a few screenshots I’ve yet to read much about it. Firefox is my default browser and I’ll be upgrading to the final version of 4 when it comes out, but I tend not to upgrade to beta versions. It looks a lot different to versions 2 and 3, and again, seems to be taking a page from Chrome’s book with the UI.

Chrome, on the other hand, has recently released version 6. It’s only 2 years old, and has gone through 6 major revisions already, and aside from some minor colouring tweaks, it’s interface remains pretty much the same as it was in version 1, which only goes to show how popular it is, and why other browsers are copying it. I use Chrome at work (along with Firefox) and ever since the AdBlock extension started to work properly, I’ve been seriously tempted to switch to using it full time. I’m a bit of a Google whore (Gmail, Google Calendar, Android phone, etc) so it only makes sense!

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