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January 2011 Entries

IE9, HTML5 and truck load of other stuff happening around the web

First of all, I haven’t been updating this blog as regularly as it used to be.  Primarily, due to the fact that, I was visiting a lot of cities talking about SharePoint, Web Matrix, IE9 and few other stuff.  IE9 is my new found love and I simply think we have done great work in improving the browser and browsing experiences for our users.

This post would talk about IE, general things happening around the web and few misconceptions around IE (I had earlier written about IE8 and common myths )

When you think about the way web has transformed, its truly amazing.  Rewind back to late 90s and early 2000s, web was a luxury.  There were lot of desktop applications running around and web applications were just starting to pick up.  Primary reason was that, not a lot of folks were into web development and the areas of innovations in web were confined to HTML and JavaScript.  CSS was around here and there but no one took it so seriously.  XML, XSLT was fast picking up and contributed to decent web development techniques.

So as a web developer all we had to worry about was, building good looking websites which worked well with IE6 and occasionally with Safari.  Firefox was not even in the picture then and so was Chrome. 

But with the various arms of W3C consortium and other bodies working actively on stuff like CSS, SVG and XHTML, few more areas came into picture when it comes to browsers supporting standards.  IE6 for sure wasn’t up to the speed and the main issue we were tackling then was piracy.  We did invest a lot of our efforts to curb piracy and one of the steps into it was that, IE7 the next version of IE would install only on genuine windows machines.  What this means, is that, people who were running pirated windows xp knowingly/unknowingly could not install IE7 and the limitations of IE6 started pushing them hard.  One more thing of importance is that, if you were running pirated windows, lots of chances that you didn’t get the security updates and thereby were vulnerable to run viruses/trojans on your system. Many of them actually block, using IE (and other applications), in the first place and make it difficult to browse.  SP2 came as a big boon but again was there only for genuine windows machines.

With Firefox coming as a free install and also heavily pushed by Google then, it was natural that people would try an alternative.  By then, we had started working on IE8 supporting the best standards (note HTML5, CSS 3 and other specs were then, work in progress.  They are still)

Later, Google in their infinite wisdom realized that with Firefox they were going nowhere and they released Chrome.  Now, they heavily push Chrome even for Firefox users, which is natural since it is their product.

In the meanwhile, these browsers push their updates as mandatory and therefore have a very short lifecycle to add enhancements and support for stuff like CSS etc., What it also means is that, they have a very short lifecycle to test their browsers against vulnerabilities.  I wouldn't want to post statistics here but Google Chrome, has, by far, been the browser with tons of security loopholes. 

Meanwhile, when IE8 came out, it really was the best standards supported browser and a lot of people saw our efforts in improving our browser and browsing experience.

HTML5 is the buzz word in the industry and there is a lot of noise being made by many browsers claiming their support for it.  IE8 doesn’t have much support for HTML5. 

But, with IE9 Beta, we have great support for many of HTML5 specifications.  Note that, HTML5 is still work under progress and one of the board of members working on the spec has mentioned that these specs might change and relying on them heavily is dangerous.  But, some of the advances such as video tag, etc., are indeed supported in IE9 Beta.  IE9 Beta also has full hardware acceleration support which other browsers don’t have.

IE8 had advanced security features such as smartscreen filter, in-private browsing, anti-phishing and a lot of other stuff.  IE9 builds on top of these with the best in town security standards as well as support for HTML5, CSS3, Hardware acceleration, SVG and many other advancements in browser.  Read more at http://www.beautyoftheweb.com/#/highlights/html5 

To summarize, IE9 Beta is really innovative and you should try it to believe what it provides.  You can visit http://www.beautyoftheweb.com/  to install as well as read more on this.

IE9 Beta installs on Windows 7 and Windows Vista SP1.  It doesn't install on Windows XP and the decision behind this qualifies for a separate post, so would reserve it till then.

Meanwhile, if you are a Windows user running Vista or Windows 7, the recommendation is to upgrade to IE9 Beta and the RTM when it is available.

If you are running Windows XP, you bare minimum need to upgrade to IE8 to get better browsing experience.

Visit www.microsoft.com/ie to read more and install the appropriate version.

Cheers !!!