At todayâ€™s PDC conference, Steven Sinofsky from Microsoft officially announced its plans for the next version of IE: Internet Explorer 9. Even though itâ€™s currently only 3 weeks into the development, Microsoft unveiled it through their annual develop conference. Itâ€™s probably the first time Microsoft made its plans on development of IE at this early stage. They probably want to catch up the release pace with Firefox and Google Chrome.
The ultimate goal for IE 9 was to improve the rendering engine and speed up usersâ€™ web browsing experience. The huge improvement in IE 8 has covered many areas, from security to web standard compliance, but not the speed. During todayâ€™s speaking,
Sinofsky admitted the fact that IE8 did terrible on the Acid3 test, which Webkit-based browsers pass or nearly pass with flying colors. IE8 got an Acid3 score of 24/100, however, this new IE9 build managed to increase that score to 32/100, which is a good sign for the future of IE.
Another cool thing revealed in IE 9 is the hardware accelerated rendering engine for both graphics and text. They are trying to bring the power of PC hardware and Windows to web developers in the browsers. In one demo, Sinofsky showed that Bing maps got around 14 FPS without hardware acceleration, but increased to 60 FPS once enabled.
The technology behind the scene is the use of DirectX family of Windows APIs. Itâ€™s moving all graphics and text rendering from the CPU to the graphic card using Direct2D and DirectWrite, so rich graphically intensive sites can render faster while using less CPU. Not only that, it also increases font quality and readability with sub-pixel positioning.
If you are interested in more related technical details, you can check this post on IE team blog.
Channel 9 also interviewed several of the engineers on the IE team, and you can find these 3 videos below:
- Introduction, and Interoperable Standards
- Early look at the Script Engine
- Hardware accelerated graphics and text in the browser via Direct2D
Itâ€™s still at very early stage, so letâ€™s keep eyes on it and see what they come up in the end.