Internet Explorer 9: Is that light at the end of the tunnel?

Last week Microsoft decided to unveil a technical preview of Internet Explorer 9 at Mix 2010, a conference that demonstrates up and coming Microsoft technology. Since it’s only a preview it’s no where near a complete browser yet, but it gives developers a chance to see what the future holds for the (Microsoft) web.

It comes packed with a whole host of new features…. border-radius at last! With new CSS3 selectors being included too, the life of the Web Developer is becoming slightly easier (and a lot more interesting!). The JavaScript engine has been improved dramatically, and it actually scores quite well on the Acid3 test (55 / 100 for IE9 compared to 20 / 100 for IE8).

Also included are a whole host of HTML5 features including native video support (video tag), audio embedding (audio tag) and some SVG sprinkled in there for good measure. The video codec being used is h.264, YouTube and Vimeo already support this codec which is great news for users. It’s worth noting that Mozilla doesn’t plan on using h.264 due to licence issues since the codec isn’t free. So there could be trouble in store for developers when using the video tag in the future.

Internet Explorer 9 business chart demo
IE9: It's not pretty but it certainly is a step in the right direction.

Hopefully IE9 will finally kill off IE6 (although I really can’t see that happening) as it will only be available on systems running Vista+ operating systems. The reason for this is because IE9 supports DirectX video acceleration using Direct2D, which (apparently) isn’t possible on XP; forcing users to upgrade to Windows 7. It’s an interesting strategy, lets hope it works.

I’m not usually one to praise Microsoft when it comes to Internet Explorer, but IE9 looks very promising.