First look at Internet Explorer 9

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The MIX10 Microsoft Developer Conference is always good for a laugh or two, but just who was rolling on the floor after the IE9 preview code was revealed?

Certainly Microsoft is deadly serious about Internet Explorer: The Next Generation. So serious that it has apparently created a new development team dedicated to the project which promises to be less a case of feature creep and more a matter of proving that it is truly committed to the whole IE browser brand in the face of stiff, and innovative, competition from both Mozilla and perhaps especially Google in the form of Chrome.

Dean Hachamovich, IE Development General Manager, was certainly enthusiastic about the capabilities of IE9 when he spoke for some 40 minutes or so at MIX10 about such things as the graphics processor acceleration for both text and graphical rendering, the hardware acceleration of HTML 5 powered video, and of course the much talked about separate processor core for compiling JavaScript. This latter enhancement being vital to the whole new IE9 experience, and something that Microsoft has been 'bigging up' for some time now. Indeed, six months ago the Microsoft Windows head honcho, Stephen Sinofsky, was already claiming it would close the JavaScript performance gap between Internet Explorer and both Firefox and Chrome. Hachamovich now reckons it has done more than close the gap, with IE9 moving ahead of Firefox 3.6 in terms of JavaScript speed although he admitted it remained slower than both Chrome and Apple Safari.

Also worth mentioning is the scalable vector graphics (SVG) support, a proper W3C standard for animated graphics which allows smoothness at any zoom level. Worth mentioning as, according to one Internet Explorer 9 development insider, it's the first browser client to provide such native inline SVG support without the need for XHTML. Hardly too surprising when you realise that the man heading up the new IE9 development team is none other than Visio co-founder Ted Johnson, and SVG is a direct descendant of Visio VML.

Don't expect to be using IE9 any time soon though, Microsoft is keeping quiet when it comes to expected release schedules. It wasn't even prepared to give an idea of when we might see the first public beta versions hit the download streams.

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