Microsoft released the third platform preview for Internet Explorer 9 Wednesday, officially confirming support for two important pieces of the HTML5 standards puzzle.
Internet Explorer 9 will support the Canvas graphics technology and the video and audio tags specified as part of the still-developing HTML5 standard, said Ryan Gavin, senior director for Internet Explorer, at a media event in San Francisco. The company demonstrated the performance of the third platform preview as compared to other browsers, taking specific jabs at Firefox and Chrome as it made its demonstration.
As part of its bid to overhaul Internet Explorer--which is still the world's leading Web browser but has been losing share and cachet--Microsoft has chosen a new strategy for rolling out code to developers and browser enthusiasts. It released the first "platform preview" of IE9 at the Mix conference in March, and has now released new versions every eight weeks, Gavin said.
Rivals in the browser community--Google, Mozilla, Apple, and Opera--have long derided Microsoft for ignoring the HTML standards process, but Microsoft has changed its tune over the last several months, and embraced key parts of the standard with the third platform preview release.
"We are all in with HTML5 and modern Web standards," Gavin said in referring to the IE9 development process.
The lack of Canvas support in the second preview release raised a few eyebrows, but Microsoft was happy to confirm Wednesday that it will support the technology in IE9. It also invited several hardware partners--Nvidia, AMD, Asus, and Dell--to talk about how IE9 will take advantage of hardware acceleration in PCs to improve the performance of Web applications.
Microsoft also spent time tweaking its browser rivals after years of being on the receiving end of the joke, demonstrating how the new IE9 platform preview beats Firefox and Chrome in several speed tests, including one "Mr. Potato Gun" Web game apparently designed to be a spoof of Google's Chrome speed video featuring guns and potatoes.
Gavin refused to provide greater clarity as to when a beta version of IE9 would be released, or whether Microsoft would release a fourth developer preview version before taking the step to beta. Interested Webheads can check out the preview at Microsoft's IE Test Drive site.