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Happy Holidays from the IE team; snow you can wipe away. Faster.

Google has its holiday fun, complete with a Defrost button to get of the snow that it sprinkles in your browser window once you search for 'let it snow'.And the IE team has its Let It Snow holiday card too, with a jaunty Christmas tune; use your mouse or - on a touch screen - wipe with your finger to clear the flakes off a sign with a holiday greeting.

Google has its holiday fun, complete with a Defrost button to get of the snow that it sprinkles in your browser window once you search for 'let it snow'. And the IE team has its Let It Snow holiday card too, with a jaunty Christmas tune; use your mouse or - on a touch screen - wipe with your finger to clear the flakes off a sign with a holiday greeting.

When you stop wiping, the snow builds up on the sign again, or you can keep wiping. It's not quite as impressive as the Art of Touch site Microsoft built to show off its touch mice which has some truly beautiful brushes you can finger paint with, but it's fun. And as it's part of the IE test drive site, you can play around with the number of snowflakes falling to see how well hardware acceleration animates a blizzard. It's done with CSS, SVG and HTML5 Canvas (and although the IE blog suggests using the Windows 8 developer preview, brushing the snow off by hand works just fine in IE9 on Windows 7).

It's also much faster in IE (9 or 10) than it is in Chrome where the snowflakes are, dare I say, glacially slow. That's going to be because IE hardware accelerates everything on screen using your GPU, which is why it doesn't run on XP. In order to support XP (and for some other reasons), Chrome uses hardware acceleration for some of the things you see in the browser but not for others. This looks like one of the better demonstrations of the difference that can make.

Actually, I'm so fond of the Art of Touch that I just took five minutes to create a holiday image of my own. Happy Holidays!

Mary Branscombe

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