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Thursday, June 24, 2010
Internet Explorer Platform Preview 3 Released Today


Microsoft today we released Internet Explorer Platform Preview 3 at an event in San Francisco.

The Internet Explorer Platform Preview allows developers to test the new Internet Explorer 9 web development and design capabilities including Microsoft's new JavaScript engine ? codename Chakra ? as well as our support for standards like HTML5, CSS3, SVG 1.1 and DOM.

At the event at the "12 Gallagher Lane" gallery in San Francisco, Ryan Gavin and Rob Mauceri from the IE team introduced Internet Explorer Platform Preview 3 to the assembled press with some new demos on the IE Test Drive site (www.ietestdrive.com) site.

The third Platform Preview of Internet Explorer 9, continues the work around hardware acceleration to enable the same standards-based markup to run faster. The support for text, graphics, and media uses the underlying hardware through Windows, making the full power of the PC available for the Web.

JavaScript is one component of browser performance, and Webkit Sunspider is one measure of script performance. The latest platform preview shows how IE9?s JavaScript engine continues to get faster. Here?s the chart:



Below you can see a zoomed-in chart with the progresss showing just the IE9 platform previews and the pre-release versions of other browsers:



According to the above results provided by Microsoft and looking the differences between the script engines' performance, you see the performance gaps between the fastest script engines are now less than 50 milliseconds ? and that?s executing several million script instructions during the benchmark test. This difference is already under any human perception threshold, Microsoft says.

However, the browser performance is not entirely attributable to JavaScript. As a result, Microsoft plans to continue to focus on real-world performance and not optimize for any specific benchmark.

Hardware accelerated canvas, video and audio

With the third platform preview, Microsoft also introduces support for the HTML5 Canvas element. Like all of the graphics in IE9, canvas is hardware accelerated through Windows and the GPU. Hardware accelerated canvas support in IE9 illustrates the power of native HTML5 in a browser.

As the browser uses more of the hardware, users' experience depends on the hardware they have, just as it always has. With hardware accelerated graphics, the graphics card and driver combination play a significant role in how users experience the various examples and benchmarks.

The first two IE9 platform previews demonstrated hardware acceleration of text, images, and vector graphics. Preview 3 completes the media landscape for modern websites with hardware accelerated video, audio, and canvas. Developers now have a comprehensive platform to build hardware accelerated HTML5 applications. This is the first browser that uses hardware acceleration for everything on the web page, on by default, available today for developers to start using for their modern site development.

Same Markup

Web browsers should render the same markup ? the same HTML, same CSS, and same script ? in the same way. That?s simply not the case today across many browsers and many elements of markup. Enabling the same markup to work the same across different browsers is as crucial for HTML5?s success as performance. Microsoft's investments in standards and interoperability are all about enabling the same markup to just work. When developers spend less time re-writing their sites to work across browsers they have more time to create amazing experiences on the web.

The third platform preview continues to support more of DOM and CSS3 standards that developers want.

Also included in the third platform preview is support for using the Web Open Font Format (WOFF) through CSS3 font face. Microsoft worked with Mozilla and Opera to submit the WOFF file format to the W3C, and in IE9 to bring quality font support to the web in a way that is friendly to web designers, font foundries, and end users.

Like all of the text rendered in IE9, the support for WOFF makes the most of the underlying hardware and Windows DirectWrite for high quality rendering with sub-pixel precision, resulting in smooth, text across font sizes and browser zoom levels.

Of course, the importance of WOFF support is having the same markup provide the same results for text and typography - results developers and designers can depend on.

Same markup includes running the same JavaScript code with the same results. The Chakra JavaScript engine in IE9 improves support for ECMA-262: ECMAScript Language Specification standard, including features new to the recently finalized Fifth Edition of ECMA-262 (often called ES5 for short). This support for ES5 includes new array and object methods, as well as other language enhancements for working with strings and dates.

Some people use Acid3 as a shorthand for standards. Acid3 tests about 100 fragments of a dozen different technologies. Some are still in "under construction." Some of the patterns, like SMIL animations, are inconsistent with others, like CSS3 animations, and need to be reconciled. Currently, the IE9 Platform Preview scores a 83/100 in the Acid3 test, compared to the 68/100 score if the previous platform preview.

Enabling developers to accurately measure website performance is important to delivering great HTML5 applications. Today, developers can measure different aspects of performance on their own machines with the Developer Tools; they can?t, however, measure the performance their users actually experience. Today, many sites develop their own libraries that try to measure live performance on web pages. The problem is that these libraries actually slow down the pages for consumers and measure inaccurately, driving the wrong behavior for developers.

Microsoft believes that the WebTiming specification is a good conceptual foundation for solving this problem. The company is in conversations with the W3C HTML5 standards body and developers at Google and Mozilla about this, and how they can all work together to make WebTiming happen in an interoperable and standardized way.

Microsoft will also work with the W3C and its members over the coming months to get this into an official working group and build consensus for a proposed specification while continuing to work together to ensure that the same markup works across browsers.

In order to keep making progress in the interim, Microsoft has included early support for these ideas in the IE9 preview. You can take a closer look at how this works in the WebTiming sample on the test drive site.

Microsoft encourages users and developers to download the latest preview, try the samples on the test drive site, andtry their own sites.

The platform preview installs side by side with Internet Explorer 8 so that users can try it without replacing the full version of Internet Explorer that comes with Windows. This third release of the Internet Explorer 9 Platform Preview will install over the prior versions. More information on what?s included in this release of the Platform Preview is available in the Release Notes.


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