Microsoft releases final IE9 preview, beta due in September

Microsoft releases final IE9 preview, beta due in September

Summary: Internet Explorer 9 continues its steady pace toward a final release. Today's milestone is an important one.


Internet Explorer 9 continues its steady pace toward a final release. Today's milestone is an important one. The fourth and final Platform Preview, like its predecessors, is intended for developers to test their web sites and report bugs. Most of the major pieces of IE9's HTML5 support were put in place in the previous release. This preview incorporates a slew of bug fixes (more than 1300 bug reports have been filed at Microsoft's Connect site) and shows off what Microsoft claims are big improvements in its new Chakra JavaScript engine. IE boss Dean Hachamovich argues that how a JavaScript engine is integrated into the browser is as important as the engine itself, in terms of performance:

The fourth Platform Preview moves the new JavaScript engine, codenamed Chakra, inside IE9 and brings them together into one single, integrated system.

Through this deep integration, the performance of real world websites significantly improves, and IE9 becomes the first browser to have a shared DOM between the browser and the script engine based on ECMAScript5. The benefits start with real-world performance and consistency.

Microsoft has published test scores that show the new JavaScript engine acing the SunSpider test (and beating the current shipping version of Safari), but the company continues to emphasize holistic, real-world performance measurements.

Probably the single biggest headline in today's release is IE9's final score on the Acid3 test. As I noted back in June (see IE9 adds key HTML5 features in new preview release), each successive platform preview release has sported an improved score on the 0-100 Acid3 scale, starting at 55 in March, increasing to 68 in May, and jumping to 83 in June. Today's release hits a 95, and Hachamovich argues that striving for a perfect 100 on this imperfect test isn't necessary or desirable. The two Acid3 failures are on features that are "in transition," he writes:

Support for SVG Fonts in the web development and font communities has been declining for some time. There’s already been discussion without objection of dropping SVG fonts from the Acid3 test. The community has put forth a proposal in the SVG Working Group to give SVG Fonts optional status.

Instead, developers can use the Web Open Font Format (WOFF, supported in IE9 Platform Preview 3 as well as other browsers) for both HTML and SVG content. It works well in conjunction with the CSS3 Fonts module and has broad support from leading font vendors (e.g. here, “a majority of font makers have already settled on WOFF or services like Typekit as their format of choice”). WOFF fonts are a better long-term solution for many reasons discussed previously.

Similarly, support for SMIL animation of SVG in the web development community is far from strong. The leader of the SVG standardization effort wrote that not supporting SMIL in its current state is probably best “since the SVG WG intends to coordinate with the CSS WG to make some changes to animation and to extend filters.”

Today's newly released performance tests continue Microsoft's tradition of showing off full hardware acceleration using PC-based GPUs to render text, graphics, and media, both audio and video. I haven't tried the tests themselves yet, but I've seen videos of  Hamster Dance Revolution and  Psychedelic Browsing in action. The former is guaranteed to get that silly hamster jingle stuck in your head for the rest of the day, and the latter could cause vertigo. You've been warned.

What's next? A beta, of course, with a full-fledged user interface instead of the bare frame that the platform previews use. When I spoke with Microsoft's Ryan Gavin earlier today, he declined to offer an exact shipping date but suggested that the next release would follow the same cadence as the platform previews. On that timetable, it's reasonable to expect a beta in the second half of September.

Topics: Browser, Hardware, Microsoft

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  • RE: Microsoft releases final IE9 preview, beta due in September

    Will adding the javascript engine into IE9 increase/decrease the likelyhood of security issues for the browser?
    Loverock Davidson
    • Probably neither

      It should improve execution speed but doesn't really represent a change in potential attack vectors.
      Ed Bott
    • RE: Microsoft releases final IE9 preview, beta due in September

      @Loverock Davidson

      No "software system" that is in use day to day is 100% secure. While your question is valid it seems a bit "out of scope" with respect to Ed's blog posting which focused on JavaScript performance & HTML5 standards. Anyway, I'm just making a general comment here. Nothing more.

      Since you brought up the topic of security, the #1 reason people have had their systems breached (in the past) is because they run with administrative rights - this is particularly nefarious on Windows XP. Unfortunately XP doesn't ship with the tools to mitigate this problem and your average lay person operates with an "ignorance is bliss" demeanor.

      While Vista and Win7 aren't immune they severely cut down the severity of how vulnerable people are. Beyond that I encourage people to use Microsoft's Security Essentials:

      It's free and after using AVG for years based on various things I had read, I switched. It was this article in particular that made me a convert:

      I might add I'm not an IE fan. I haven't used IE since 2002 (I started using the Mozilla suite that year before "Firefox" was ever packaged). Nowadays I do <b>most</b> of my browsing with Firefox on Windows 7 but I do use Chrome as well. I also use a LINUX VM regularly and use Chrome exclusively there.

      • It's too bad

        @betelgeuse68 <br><br>Microsoft can't add MSE to Windows by default. It would shut the "Security woes" complainers up, but would make the "Anti-trust" crowd explode. It really is an excellent product, and is the first thing installed on any of my Windows machines.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • No changes to security boundaries

      @Loverock Davidson <br><br>The JavaScript engine was communicating with trident through COM. However, COM supports both in-process and out-of-process "servers". <br><br>In-process is significantly faster as parameters/results from method/function calls do not need to be marshalled under this model. Out-of-process has a considerable overhead on each invocation.<br><br>The JavaScript engine was always "in-process" and thus exploits from memory corruption vulnerabilities etc. would have no <i>process</i> barrier to scale before being able to compromise the main process. Windows still lays out several other barriers to stop exploits in their tracts; nothing has changes there.<br><br>Thus, moving the JavaScript engine in with the rendering engine is merely a refactoring. In terms of security boundaries, nothing has changed. The speed improvements from this is probably not from more effective calls (being a binary model, in-proc COM has *very* low overhead), but rather because the rendering engine and the scripting engine now work against the same DOM with no need for adapter objects.
      • RE: Microsoft releases final IE9 preview, beta due in September

        @honeymonster does that mean we can get hacked at greater speeds?
      • RE: Microsoft releases final IE9 preview, beta due in September

        What about ActiveX. Have they dumped that POS yet?<br><br><i>Not</i>
  • More bs by Microfail

    Safari & Chrome both 100/100 for a LONG time. Who needs walls and fences in a world without windows and gates?
    • Well Safari does at any rate.

      Safari running on OS X according to Charlie Miller is the easiest browser to hack. And he's proven it 3 years in a row. Chrome is the toughest. Firefox is tough too but it isn't 100% on ACID 3 either. ACID isn't a good test for security just standards compatibility. And note many of Windows security problems are not related to Windows or I.E. but 3rd party apps and add-ons like: Flash, QuickTime, Adobe Reader, RealPlayer (in the past anyway), etc.
    • Safari is also a joke


      It has about the same amount of holes IE6 on WinXP did. A browser doesn't need to bee perfect on the Acid3 test. A 95, is perfect for the reason they are giving.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • Both Safari and Firefox are abysmal in terms of security

        @NStalnecker <br><br>Both of them compete at being the browser with most vulnerabilities. NONE of them have sandboxing in place. Chrome being based on the same webkit as Safari inherits many of the vulnerabilities but it *does* have a proper sandbox (except it is not sandboxing plugins like flash like IE).<br><br>The *only* thing Firefox has going for it is that Mozilla are among the fastest patching vendors. Unfortunately this "rush to patch" also means that they have had many incidents where a patch have broken browsers and/or extensions and they have to rush *another* patch.<br><br>Safari is just a swiss cheese browser. Tops the vulnerability chart, no sandbox, and Apple are among the slowest to patch.
      • RE: Microsoft releases final IE9 preview, beta due in September

        haven't we heard this optimistic nonsense from you before.<br><br>And then this...<br><br><br><br>In fact, take your pick...<br><br>
      • Safari & Firefox are BETTER in terms of security than IE

        @LTV10: You've said it. Don't know what honeymonster was thinking when he said that.
      • IE is most secure browser

        Actually IE has been kicking but in the arena of security for some time:
  • RE: Microsoft releases final IE9 preview, beta due in September

    Html5 videos are encoded in h264 format, h.264 offers better compression and quality ,so we're playing videos natively with IE9 since it supports h264-encoded videos. And how to converter html5 videos to other video formats, we need video converter like ifunia, who declared they are dedicated in creating affordable and easy multimedia software to simplify your digital life, to do it?
    • H.264 is not part of HMTL5 spec

      @pennwarren <br><br>The HTML video tag does not specify a format. Microsoft (and Apple) choose H.264 as the default format, but you can use any installed codec.
      Ed Bott
      • RE: Microsoft releases final IE9 preview, beta due in September

        @Ed Bott
        I can use any installed codec, if I'm able to creat a browser like IE9, isn't it?
  • I just hope the upgrade fixes my broken IE

    My IE8 has been broken for some time and I have been using every other browser (yes tried all the fixes, none worked). None match IE (my opinion, bug off), they all seem to have little things that anoy me and/or my computer.

    I have been using the platform preview and it works just fine, I just hope the beta reloads what ever is busted so I can get my tabs back.
    • RE: Microsoft releases final IE9 preview, beta due in September

      @pllamonica@...Wow this post is really scary, are you honestly telling us you prefer a browser that is broken and doesn't work, to ones that do? I think you need to seek some help.
  • Deep integration of JS

    What will this mean in terms of browser stability? Will rogue javascript code on one page be able to lock up or even crash the browser, or will MS be able to separate pages (tabs) into their own process space?