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?