Internet Explorer 9

What does everyone think about the news on Internet Explorer 9? From the development team’s recent blog post, it looks like they have no intention of supporting WebGL, even though all three of their main competitors have already built it in.

Their attitude seems to be that the graphics cards in modern PCs are better used to accelerate and enhance the user’s experience of normal 2D web pages, presumably by making AJAX pages perform better; Stephen Shankland on CNet writes:

The acceleration feature takes advantage of hitherto untapped computing power in a way that’s more useful than other browser-boosting technology such as Google’s Native Client to tap into a PC’s processor and Mozilla’s WebGL for accelerated 3D graphics, said Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of Internet Explorer.

It’s an interesting claim, but it’s not clear to me how much can be gained this way. At the coding level, it sounds like what they’ve done is improve the underlying graphics library code by switching from GDI (or more probably GDI+) to Direct2D, which may well be a good idea, and might be worthwhile in the longer term for the Windows versions of the other browsers too, though what it will mean for those of us who don’t upgrade to Windows 7 is an interesting question. But you have to ask yourself — how many current web pages seem to be limited by the speed of their Ajax code? Performance-wise, the network seems much more of a bottleneck, and that can only be fixed by the telcos improving the infrastructure — which will happen over time for everyone, no matter which browser they use.

So adding new capabilities to the browser like WebGL and more intelligent audio and video seems to me much more worthwhile than trying to speed up the graphical performance of existing pages. But then, I’m biased (and if you’re a regular reader here, you probably are too :-)

What do you think?

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32 Responses to “Internet Explorer 9”

  1. Groovounet says:

    I think Microsoft has lost all capacity in inovation and that IE is dead since a long time ago. It’s just a matter of time before we don’t here about it anymore if they continue to follow that road: DEAD END!

    I’m seriously concern about the future of Microsoft, not really for the company itself but for the competition.

  2. use Google Chrome Frame ;)

  3. Yeah, I agree with your interpretation – unless there is some sort of next-gen visual feedback type effects that the Explorer team have in mind. A sort of ‘compiz-fuzion’ for web-pages.

  4. Asedok says:

    Firefox also wants to accelerate eventually html content, but they had to do composition right first. Media web pages as photo albums, maps, etc. have great use for that.

  5. dan says:

    Please do your research, Microsoft IE 9 is going to be a major release. Its going to put Chrome, Safari to shame, but I suspect Firefox will keep up.

    Read about how IE 9 will use the GPU, its impressive.

  6. giles says:

    dan — perhaps you could explain what I might have found beyond what I explained above? Links would help.

  7. giles says:

    Thanks, nijee. That’s a really interesting video, but the only new feature it mentions is sub-pixel rendering (and even then I’m assuming that they mean it’s JavaScript-accessible rather than only used by the internal renderer). The rest of it is simply amplifying the fact that they’ve moved from GDI to Direct2D, and this makes things faster because they can offload things to the GPU. This is great, I’m really glad they’ve done it, and I hope the other browser developers follow, but I don’t think it contradicts anything I said above. Sure, people will be able to produce slightly slicker versions of apps that they already have, but it doesn’t unlock anything new.

  8. Flip Sasser says:

    It’s no surprise that Microsoft is balking at yet another web standard – their interest is in defining standards; not following them. It’s a shame they play by those rules, but if IE9 is really that much better, it won’t matter – they’ll continue down the same path. That being said, I can’t help but point out that IE7 and IE8 were disappointments given the (now commonplace) hype.

  9. giles says:

    Very true. Sometimes their ideas for new standards can be great — DHTML was their invention, in IE4, and I think IE5 introduced what was to become XMLHttpRequest. So to a large degree, the IE team invented AJAX and thus much of the modern Web. But since then they’ve lost the initiative. Perhaps the smart people left to another group within the company? Or, indeed, left to another company?

  10. Michael says:

    I’m mad as h*ll about this! First, Microsoft dropped the ball on 3D for Silverlight, and gave us this dumbed down 2.5D feature. It took Google to revive 3D for the web with WebGL, and Microsoft is asleep at the switch again! Other than Direct3D for gamers, Microsoft is always asleep at the switch, and just plain incompetent with 3D technologies. They bought SoftImage, couldn’t get anything going with that, and had to sell it. They bought a company that created Java 3D tools, and that ended up dying. They bought Caligari in May of 2009, and not a thing has been done with it. Now this. Maybe with all these 3D failures at Microsoft, everybndy at Microsoft is just plain afraid of 3D now. Maybe Microsoft should move all 3D projects into the Direct3D group, since they seem to be the only people at Microsoft that seem to know what they are doing with 3D.

  11. Papa Carlo says:

    I had an impression that Microsoft is a great enemy of OpenGL and consequently WebGL. First of all OpenGL is a competitor to they DirectX but most importantly OpenGL is a platform independent standard. That means it can run for example on Linux. So by supporting WebGL MS would act against itself. However the reality could be that MS is loosing the battle. If enough websites start using WebGL people will dump IE just to be able to use those webpages. I tried to write a few WebGL applications and my experience was very positive.
    I would suggest MS to look for example at Google. Google also came out with their O3D first, but as the trend turned towards WebGL they were not afraid to support it too. But MS seems to be in denial so far.

  12. giles says:

    @Papa Carlo — I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there.

  13. [...] JS speeds, many HTML5 features that finally make web more multimedia friendly and even WebGL coming slowly(it seems that holding web back becomes IE tradition). There is still a lot needed to be done to [...]

  14. gedw99 says:

    what else can i say.

    Ms why cant you just get along with the rest of us, implement webgl and you can keep pushing your Silverlight wheelbarrow as much as you like onto the dumb arse ears of those corporate business analysts that are none the wiser.

    i promise i wont tell my manager “Oh but we could do all that in webgl without a plugin and it would run on everything”.

    Its about time you guys at MS just be a bit more honest about the options out there and be inclusive rather then enclusive. Its the year 2010 Wake the fuck up Microsoft, and stop making everyones lives harder than they have to be.

    Ok, now i feel better – got that of my chest.

    Ged

  15. Pran says:

    Recently saw the google buckyball. Any ideas as to how they developed without the 3d support. I know of jquery having an engine for 3D which can run as normal javascript. Any chance they used some sort of javascript for this or used some concrete 3D stuff like webgl? Any thoughts giles.

  16. giles says:

    Hi Pran — I’m not sure how they did it, but it’s definitely not WebGL. Looks like it might be CSS/HTML/JavaScript.

  17. Manolo says:

    Pran, there’s no need of WebGL to draw thebuckyball. It’s nice but so simple…

  18. linux_win says:

    you are biased. I like IE.

  19. mentorlog says:

    That’s why I prefer Firefox.

  20. Sid says:

    I would have been shocked if MS started supporting WebGL. There are many reason
    1. MS thinks they are the best at everything and everyone should do it their way. Hence open standards like WebGL is a big no no. think about HTML and CSS. How long did it take them to fully support these standards. If we had it their way, we would be view Word documents instead of HTML.

    2. WebGL is based on OpenGL, arch enemies of Direct3D. If I’m not mistaken OpenGL was only enabled on Win 7 after a lot of fuss. That would mean MS need to support OpenGL directly which is a far off dream.

    - Sid

  21. Paul Brunt says:

    I think this really is the end of IE, they are doing exactly what they originally did with SVG. Difference being this time they are doing the chasing with there market share at only ~50%, it’s even hitting as low as 40% on a couple of e-commerce sites I take care of(Europe). No support for IE9 in XP is it’s nail in the coffin, developers are not going to wait anymore, and it looks like the vast majority of users agree.

    Why would anyone want to drive around in a Nissan when Ferraris and Jaguars are free.

  22. [...] developers of Firefox, Chrome (Webkit) and Opera for that! Internet Explorer 9 on the other hand isn’t planning on supporting it. Hopefully that will change in the [...]

  23. Moe479 says:

    iam fine with ie until it comes to some specailitys with css and javascript like displaying inline-block elemets correctly, using js innerHTML and what i realy miss is the canvas element when it comes to clientside calculated visualisations of curves.

    as a webdeveloper i like for example working on firefox only cause of the 3rd party webdeveloper and colorzilla plugins, giving me a good visualisation of the dom behind a site plus some nice helpers when fast debugging sites or editing themes.

    on scripting side i cant understand why someone wants to use asp since php do the job just perfect is well documentated and got a huge community with quadrotrillons of free examples and sitesystems u can learn and chose from, and also python seems more accessable if u prefer diehard oop or it even more abstract programming style wise.

    why microsoft dont offer all the cool things too is a miracle to me.

    not to talk about the money and time u spend on setting up and maintaining an ordinary xammp-like webserver enviroment by using the m$-iis and m$-sql.

    i realy dont get it why someone likes the pain that ships with all the microsoft castrations.

    the sadness in this is actually the spread of ie, still down to ie6, and many still like to have maximal possible compatiblity of thier sites, that often leads to droping features to archive the compatiblity instead of programming the same shit 3 times for 3 diffrent behaviors of still used browserengines.

  24. kavika says:

    @Paul:

    “Why would anyone want to drive around in a Nissan when Ferraris and Jaguars are free.”

    Because when they bought their house, the Nissan came with it. Otherwise IE wouldn’t have the lion’s marketshare it continues to have. IE use may be deminishing, but it will always at least match the Windows marketshare.

    How much I like this fact is a different question :)

  25. giles says:

    @kavika: “IE use may be deminishing, but it will always at least match the Windows marketshare.” — well, lots of Windows users happily download Firefox and Chrome… but sure, there will always be less-technical users who’ll stick with whatever MS give them with the OS, just as there are lots of Mac users who stick with the (admittedly much better) Safari.

  26. @Groovounet says:

    @Groovounet: Microsoft never had inovation.

  27. Ryan says:

    @Moe479, you are most certainly NOT a web developer. You would barely pass for a human.

  28. Weaselspleen says:

    @Ryan, you are most certainly NOT a douchebag. You would barely pass for a nozzle.

  29. giles says:

    Now now, children.

  30. [...] that it must have no dependencies beyond HTML 5 canvas / js, WebGL may not be the right choice. It doesn’t look like IE will support it anytime [...]

  31. Everton says:

    What about this?

    WebGL for Internet Explorer
    http://www.iewebgl.com/

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