Insufficient data from Andrew Fryer

The place where I page to when my brain is full up of stuff about the Microsoft platform

IE 9 it’s not an upside down IE6

My first love is art and the great thing about my current role is that I can use my creativity to help explain what can be done with Microsoft technology.Just last week our marketing team decided to give me a whole stand to draw all over at the Web Directions event last week at the Southbank Centre in London, to explain what Internet Explorer 9 is all about…

I think there are three themes at work in the next release any one of which would be interesting:

  • Standards.  HTML 5 + CSS 3 + SVG 1(.1) equals IE 9. Actually it’s more complicated than my arithmetic, in that in that there are lots of other standards. The most interesting one is support for scalable vector graphics (i.e. SVG 1.1)  like the tweet cloud and asteroid example on the IE9 test drive site.
  • Speed.  IE9 makes use of DirectX 11 in Windows 7 to improve 2 graphics performance , which will depend on the GPU in your machine, but even on the modest machines we had at the event was much faster than IE8 on my rocket fast home rig.
  • Developer friendly.  I don’t expect many people reading this count themselves as  developers but being able to write one piece of code and know it will work well in most browsers means that the next generation of applications can be delivered more quickly. Also the handy F12 button brings up all the underlying code to show what’s running

If you want to see IE9 in action then there is a technical preview here. Note this is designed to test sites and has been deliberately crippled (there’s no tabbed browsing or even a back button) as it is not intended to replace your current browser at the moment. It is updated every 8 weeks and in each release you’ll be able to see how the browser is being developed across the three themes I have described particular in the cased of standards. For example the scored for ACID 3 has gone up from 68 to 86/100 in the third preview released yesterday, as well as showing more demos of what this means for the user experience.The latest preview also has <canvas> support as in this example..


What does this mean for the IT Pro?

Firstly IE9 will be popular for the reasons I have described, and we have had a lot positive feedback from the developer community despite initial scepticism, so this should translate into a desire to adopt it because there will be an army of sites that will leverage these new standards.

This won’t be a problem if you are running Windows 7 or Vista as it will simply be a case of upgrading the browser possibly as part of software update, but you need to be aware that IE9 is not compatible with Windows XP.  This is mainly down to the GPU acceleration, but I suspect there would be other issues such as security even if this was overcome.  Hopefully the number of in house mission critical apps that depend on IE6 is dwindling as XP and IE6 move into extended support however it will be possible to run Win XP/IE6 inside Win 7 / IE9.  For consumers and small businesses there is XP Mode and for larger customers Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualisation (MED-V) is included with the Microsoft Desktop Optimisation Pack (MDOP), that’s included in the software assurance agreement.