IE remains the Net's dominant browser. But perversely, it became something of a technology underdog after Microsoft vanquished Netscape in the browser wars of the 1990s and scaled back its browser effort.
That left an opportunity for rivals to blossom--most notably Firefox, which now is used by a quarter of Web surfers, but also Apple's Safari, which now runs on Windows as well as Mac OS X, and Google's Chrome, which aims to make the Web faster and a better foundation for applications.
Microsoft has been pouring resources back into the IE effort, though, and at its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles, some fruits of that labor were on display. In particular, Windows unit president Steven Sinofsky showed off IE 9's new hardware-accelerated text and graphics.