Internet Explorer 9

Internet Explorer 9
   Two years have passed and since I shared my impressions of Internet Explorer 8 and once again it is time for me to review the latest version of the browser that no web developer can ignore but many would like to.

   So without further ado here is what you can expect:


User Interface Changes

   Internet Explorer 9 has reduced the number of buttons and toolbars on the screen by default in an attempt to copy Chrome's minimalistic UI. The goal is to allow websites to look and feel like native applications in the OS. In addition to reducing the browser frame IE9 provides an option to pin a website to the Windows 7 taskbar just like you would do with a normal program. This changes the frame design using the colors of the favicon and allows the site to integrate with the jump lists using special APIs.

   I consider myself a power user of a web browser and I like the controls of the programs I use as a power user exposed which does not mean they should be ugly. The latest version of Office with its Ribbon interface is the way I prefer my UI. Luckily you can enable the toolbars that are hidden by default. The only toolbar that has significantly reduced its functionality is the status bar which only has zoom control and still I have enabled it.  You can also move the tabs on a separate line as they are on the same line as the address bar by default.

   The best thing about the UI in comparison with other browsers is how well the tabs integrate with the Windows 7 Aero Snap. It is possible to create a new frame from a tab while simultaneously snapping it to the side to get half screen size. You can also pin a tab to the taskbar by dragging it.



   New features worth mentioning include built-in download manager, ActiveX filtering and better privacy protection. The download manager is self-explanatory. ActiveX filtering allows you to turn off all ActiveX plugins by default and enable them on per site. It can serve as a flash blocking utility except that it blocks all plugins. The privacy protection is an evolution of IE8's "In Private Filtering" that can be turned on and off per site and also allows importing of third party lists. Notable omission is the lack of built-in spellchecker. Luckily there are plugins to do that. Overall I feel IE9 is not doing well in terms of features compared to IE8 that provided a lot of cool stuff like Web Slices.



   Internet Explorer 9 is fast. It has fast UI and fast execution and rendering speed. When I say fast I mean Chrome fast. Naturally IE9 beats other browsers in MS designed tests and loses to other browsers in their respective tests. It is a well-known fact that each browser is the fastest browser (according to the tests designed or chosen by the browser vendor) so this is nothing new.



   Internet Explorer 9 sports a new JavaScript engine that can interpret the JavaScript code using one thread while compiling it using another. The new engine is comparable to other vendors' engines in terms of speed. However the most important part is the GPU hardware acceleration of all the text and graphics in the browser. This leads to dramatic improvement in the performance of graphics intensive pages using a lot of canvas objects, a lot of SVG or video. This is what the MS tests focus on and in these tests Internet Explorer 9 is remarkably faster than the competition.

   I personally consider the hardware acceleration a brilliant strategic move by Microsoft. Other browser vendors have already began implementing hardware acceleration in their products but even if they beat Internet Explorer they will still beat it only on Windows. Other platforms (notably Linux) are known for poor hardware acceleration support and bad drivers. Even if other browsers manage to port the hardware acceleration to other platforms they will need to fork the code thus increasing their development and maintenance costs significantly. In theory they could go for OpenGL and have some level of portability but for some reason Mozilla have gone for DirectX on Windows.

   Here comes the biggest downside of Microsoft's new browser. The fonts are somewhat blurry with the new DirectWrite rendering. The new fonts are supposed to scale better with zoom and also will look fine on high DPI displays (read the Windows Phones). However on standard low DPI monitors they just look bad… like they do on a Mac where this method has been used from the start. Luckily you can force compatibility view and get the old and better font rendering back while throwing away all the web standards work of the Internet Explorer team. Who cares about standards anyway?


Standards and Developer Features

   The most notable addition from the HTML 'standard' are the elements Canvas, Video and Audio. As we already known they are totally useless. Of course the useful input types are not included but hey your canvas is hardware accelerated!

   To my surprise Internet Explorer 9 kicks every other browser's ass on Google's Sputnik test suite designed to test for JavaScript standards conformance. If it was an MS designed test I would not mention it but this one comes from Google so this victory is remarkable. Remember this for your next "IE does not follow standards" argument no matter on which side you are.

   The new developer tools can capture HTTP requests so there is no need to install Fiddler anymore unless you need to debug a lot of HTTP requests in which case you probably need the power of Fiddler because no other tool I know of is so powerful when it comes to http traffic sniffing. No, Firebug's is a toy compared to Fiddler when it comes to HTTP!

   In addition you can now force the browser in Internet Explorer 8 mode to develop for the previous version if you need to. The compatibility button still makes the browser act as version 7. Developers can use meta tags to request IE7 or IE8 behavior.

   Of course every new version of every browser is bad news for developers because something will break for sure. What is even more interesting is that XP is not supported which is of course expected as XP is not sold anymore. This makes Internet Explorer 8 the last version available to XP users. Combined with the fact that version 8 ships with the remarkably popular Windows 7 this means that this version is here to stay. As a co-worker of mine put it "8 is the new 6".
Tags:   english tech 
Posted by:   Stilgar
13:32 21.03.2011


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Posted by   JOKe (Unregistered)   on   14:26 21.03.2011

Other platforms (notably Linux) are known for poor hardware acceleration support and bad drivers. nope Nvidia drivers are nice the intells too ... who cares about ATI.. even the windows drivers of ATI/AMD are bad. Yeah they are not "open" but if you use Ubuntu/Mint no issues.

Chrome and Firefox already have GPU support for Linux/Mac OS X not only windows.. and yes it uses OpenGL but who cares it works ! :) Also the fonts ... issue ... no idea why this directWrite is so fucked when I start GPU on firefox 4 I get the same ugly fonts... so .. in short I WILL NOT USE GPU AT ALL !!!

Still as you know ... Google are today gods and Chrome is today AWESOME thingy. so ... in chrome you can enable hardware acceleration on about:flags.. the thing is that there are 2 things there :

GPU Accelerated Compositing
Enables 3D CSS and higher performance compositing of web pages using Graphics Processor Unit (GPU) hardware.


GPU Accelerated Canvas 2D
Enables higher performance of canvas tags with a 2D context by rendering using Graphics Processor Unit (GPU) hardware.

So in short... EVEN if you enable both of them .. guess what the fonts are still FINE but this is normal Google chrome is  AWESOME.
Also to verify that the GPU is started you can check there is a process called GPU process :) SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEET

Posted by   Stilgar   on   14:34 21.03.2011

As far as I understand from the discussion on Connect about the fonts issue DirectWrite supports both ways of font rendering. The browser vendors (both Microsoft and Mozilla) choose to use the new way to ensure correct rendering (for example with zoom). Also the compatibility view in IE9 uses hardware acceleration but still renders the fonts the good old way.

Posted by   Guest (Unregistered)   on   15:19 21.03.2011

without further a due -> without further ado

... освен ако не е нарочно!

Posted by   Stilgar   on   15:33 21.03.2011

Obiknovena negramotnost si e:)

Posted by   ivelinka   on   21:32 21.03.2011

Chrome is really cool browser I've been using it for a month since I don't have IE9 on my Win XP. IE9's UI is copied from Chrome's UI that's obvious however there are some things in UI that are better in IE9 than in Chrome.

For example I like to keep more than 20 tabs opened. So in Chrome there is no limit to the tabs that are shown they just get smaller and smaller and at some point even the picture disappears! This sucks so much! -> This never happens in IE. There is a limit of the tabs that are shown and there is a drop down where I see the rest of my pages.

In Chrome when I reopen a recently closed tab it is reopened as the last tab in the list while IE9 will reopen it at the place where it was before it was closed.

Posted by   ivelinka   on   21:34 21.03.2011

I just want to point out that these things that I listed aren't new to IE9. I'm used to them since IE8.

Both IE9 and Chrome seems to be equally fast to me.

Posted by   JOKe (Unregistered)   on   13:31 22.03.2011

Ivelinka you will love the new firefox 4 CTRL+SHIFT+E combination it makes my browsing AWESOMEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Posted by   JOKe (Unregistered)   on   13:32 22.03.2011

maybe this is the only thing I like in the new firefox... :D

Posted by   JOKe (Unregistered)   on   15:15 22.03.2011

@Ivelinka za limitvane na tabs v chrome ima extension

Posted by   ivelinka   on   15:22 22.03.2011

Fuck extensions! It should be built in!
I guess Google didn't do any QA testing because I can't believe there will be no QA to open 30 tabs and notice that they are unreadable.

Posted by   ivelinka   on   15:26 22.03.2011

By the way IE team changed the way tabs used to be displayed. They made it an option because people like me feel inconvenient when they open so many tabs! It doesn't matter what developers like it's what users like.

Posted by   Stilgar   on   15:37 22.03.2011

Don't argue. All browser makers hate us with passion. No need to argue which hate us more (of course the guys from Google hate us more).

Posted by   JOKe (Unregistered)   on   18:01 22.03.2011

Ivelinka the browser is for browsing ... so you like to have a feature that STOPS you from opening tabs which means STOPS you from browsing .. yeah best browser feature :D

Posted by   Stilgar   on   18:20 22.03.2011

Yeah. Chrome has this feature:)

Posted by   JOKe (Unregistered)   on   21:50 22.03.2011

anyway all browsers which can open the site that I want are good :D so.. .everything except IE * is good end of discussion

Posted by   Stilgar   on   22:08 22.03.2011

IE opens this site just fine and also the sites linked in this site. Why would anyone want to open anything else?

Posted by   mundo (Unregistered)   on   04:05 23.03.2011

Joke stiga si spamval ;p

Posted by   ivelinka   on   13:25 23.03.2011

"Ivelinka the browser is for browsing ... so you like to have a feature that STOPS you from opening tabs which means STOPS you from browsing .. yeah best browser feature :D"

No, I don't want this feature but obviously it is already in Chrome!

Posted by   Stilgar   on   13:53 23.03.2011

On the topic of hardware acceleration on other platforms:
"Limited support for hardware acceleration is available to Mac OS X and Linux users via OpenGL on systems with compatible graphics hardware, but Canvas content isn't accelerated on those platforms yet."
( )

Posted by   JOKe (Unregistered)   on   18:06 23.03.2011

Who cares... Opera doesnt have Acceleration at all and still quite fast.

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