What do you think of the IE9 platform preview?

Yesterday Microsoft released to the world a platform preview of IE9. I’m sure you’ve read all about it by now, so what do we all think?

It’s important to understand first off that what Microsoft released yesterday is not an early release of IE9. It’s not really a browser in any way, shape or form. It’s a platform preview purely to show off a few HTML5 JavaScript APIs, some SVG 1.1 capabilities and a sprinkling of CSS3.

Given that, no one can really come to very concrete conclusions of what IE9 is going to be like, yet. All we can do is assess the way things are heading.

HTML5 and SVG

Microsoft is really emphasising HTML5 and SVG. But it’s worth noting that when I say HTML5 I’m specifically referring to selected HTML5 JavaScript APIs - not the full HTML5 shebang.

Does this mean that IE9 won’t support HTML5 specific tags and HTML5 native video and audio? We don’t know, it’s too early to say, but at the moment it’s not there.

I can honestly say that at this moment in time absolutely none of my real projects with real clients make any use of HTML5 JavaScript APIs or SVG. Therefore I don’t feel it’s fair for me to judge how well the IE9 platform preview is performing in these areas. But from using Microsoft’s demos I can observe that performance felt a little slow and rough. But this is a preview, right? I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that the final product will be a lot more polished.

What I can say though, and this is important, is that there are a lot of web developers out there (myself included) that need to start learning about the HTML5 JavaScript APIs and SVG very, very quickly. When IE9 brings this to the masses we need to be able to harness it effectively. This is important, and undoubtedly a good thing.

CSS3

Now CSS3 is an area I feel a lot more passion about that. I use lashings of CSS3 goodness in every new project these days and I love it! I’ve heard rumblings of IE9 CSS3 support for a few months now and it’s getting me excited.

So what does the IE9 platform preview give us? Well, it gives us CSS3 selectors and border-radius. And that’s it!

There is no text-shadow, no background gradients, no transitions. And the border-radius it does give us is, frankly, rough. Not smooth delicate curves, but rough jagged curves with little anti-aliasing and some quite ugly digital artifacts.

Again, fair is fair, this is a platform preview so lets assume Microsoft polish up the performance a bit. Is border-radius and more selectors enough for you?

For me it’s not. That’s not to say Microsoft don’t have plans for more CSS3 goodness, we simply don’t know, but dodgy border-radius is well under my expectations.

Am I just a Microsoft hater?

I’ll skip past the fact that the IE9 platform preview fails the Acid3 test miserably - you’ll only accuse me of being an IE-hater if I keep harping on about it’s deficiencies.

The simple truth is that I am not an IE or Microsoft hater. In my opinion, IE8 is a fantastic browser. Whilst it doesn’t have any of the forward-thinking bags of tricks that they are bringing in to IE9, IE8 does what it does do very well. It is a very solid and satisfactory browser to develop in, and is a leap of quite massive proportions in the right direction from IE7 and 6.

But it is because of this that I have very, very high expectations of IE9. All the stuff that Microsoft are promising for IE9, the competition is already doing and has been doing for a long time. Playing catch up simply isn’t good enough.

Do any other Microsoft haters dream of the day when Internet Explorer is the developers’ preferred browser?

Given Microsoft’s track record, the general reception across the web of the IE9 preview has been surprisingly warm and optimistic. Personally I don’t share that view, and if anything my previously high hopes for IE9 have received an unwelcome reality check.

Further reading

Update

Having just read the full Microsoft announcement, I have noticed that IE9 will support native H.264 video (although the plaform preview doesn’t support it yet) and native MP3 and AAC audio (just like Safari and Chrome).

That’s a bit better.

1 response

Luke Burford responded on with…

HTML5 isn’t really on my radar too much yet, but CSS3 very much is. That’s where the attention in this release is likely to be for many designer/developers I feel.

A solid (non-crunchy) border-radius alone is worth a lot in terms of time saved implementing an IE-only JS implementation / graphics (ugh) / explaining CSS3 support to a totally disinterested client. Text-shadow surely will be included eventually too.

My worry is there’s also talk of developing more IE proprietary garbage browser ‘functionality’ few users will ever bother with, as has been mentioned by Zeldman etc. Just get the standards right and give me my border-radius, please!!!

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