Microsoft Releases Fourth And Final Platfrom IE9

Microsoft released its fourth and final platform preview of IE9 today, with enhancements designed to deliver increased interoperability and hardware accelerated performance.

The first beta of the browser is due to ship in September.

Microsoft's UK web product manager, Mark Quirk, said IE9 will significantly faster than its predecessor. "[Performance is determined by] the Javascript engine [in the browser], and currently as measured by the SunSpider browser benchmark, IE9 is 11 times [at 326 milliseconds] faster than IE8."

In addition, IE9 uses native graphics and sound cards, including graphics processing units (GPUs), to aid performance, rather than offloading tasks onto the desktop CPU itself.

"Rendering graphics, text, video, and audio makes IE9 very fast, since we're using DirectX to write directly into the graphics hardware memory. Writing the browser to work cross-platform with most graphics cards was not a trivial task, " added Quirk.

Interoperability issues have also been addressed in IE9.

Developers should be able to write a web page/site and see it rendered correctly by the majority of browsers including Chrome, Firefox and Opera.

That means they will be able to use markup language tags and scripting from other popular browsers.

"We're implementing a lot more of HTML 5, and other standards based around that. We're also using a lot of telemetry to check which standards are used by the broadest range of sites," explained Quirk.

However, Microsoft will not be supporting IE9 on Windows XP, and will not be implementing Adobe's Flash media technology natively in the browser, so users will have to install a Flash plug-in to enable Flash on IE9.

Quirk said that about 2.4 million previews had been downloaded already. The new preview is available to developers at IE's Test Drive site.

The latest NetMarketShare statistics for global browser usage put IE's share as 60.7 per cent, up 0.42 per cent on last month, suggesting the drop in share from September 2009's figure of 65.7 per cent has stopped.

Firefox currently has a 22.91 per cent share, with Chrome on 7.16 per cent, Apple's Safari on 4.85 per cent and Opera on 2.27 per cent.

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