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IE9 and MIX10: six big questions for Microsoft

All eyes will be on the new Windows Phone 7 Series at MIX10 next week. But I'm getting ready to ask a bunch of questions about the other big news set for release in Las Vegas. I've got plenty of questions about Internet Explorer 9, starting with "Who cares?" I'm also planning to ask about HTML5, performance, and compatibility. Read my list, and add your own questions.
Written by Ed Bott, Senior Contributing Editor on

A few weeks ago, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft unveiled its strategy to reclaim a place in the crucial market for mobile devices. At the time, I posted Seven big questions about the new Windows Phone 7 Series. I expect to get answers to at least some of those questions next week at the MIX10 conference in Las Vegas. But another, equally important batch of news is also on tap for next week. Microsoft will be discussing its plans for Internet Explorer 9 in detail for the first time at MIX10.

I spoke briefly with Dean Hachamovitch, General Manager of the Internet Explorer group, at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference last November. At that time, the company announced its general strategy for IE9, but held off on the specifics. Now, after nearly four months of development since that announcement, it's time for Microsoft to show us what they've got. I'm sitting down with Dean again next week, and here are some of the questions I plan to ask:

Who cares? I don't mean that question to come across as rude, but a lot of people have questioned whether Internet Explorer is still relevant. IE still counts a majority share among Internet users, but just barely, and the competition is very aggressive. Can IE9 recapture mind share the way Windows 7 did? And in particular, can you get the fickle Twitterati and Techmeme crowd to take IE9 seriously?

How are you going to address compatibility concerns? IE8 was a huge step forward in terms of supporting standards, but it still falls short on some key tests like ACID3, and there are still thousands of high-profile sites that don't work well in IE8. Will IE9 add more complexity to this equation, or will it make things easier for frazzled developers?

What about HTML5 support? It must be a relief to watch Apple and Adobe fight over Flash and not have to get dragged into that argument. But the anti-Flash crowd is pinning its hopes on a still-fluid standard called HTML5. Will IE9 support HTML5?

What's the latest on performance? Most of your competition (Google Chrome in particular) is vocal about its superior performance compared to IE8, and reviewers seem to agree. I know you're planning to tap into GPUs to improve page rendering, but what else are you doing to address performance concerns?

What's the security story? Internet Explorer has gotten a bad rap lately, mostly for the sins of older versions. Is there anything new in the security infrastructure for IE9?

When will it be ready to ship? Every previous major release of Internet Explorer has been tied to a new version of Windows: IE6 and XP, IE7 and Vista, and IE8 with Windows 7. Why break the pattern with this release?

That's my big list of questions. I'll be adding more questions over the weekend and adding follow-ups after I see the IE9-focused keynote at MIX10 on Tuesday. I'll let you know what I hear and see.

How about you? Any questions you want me to ask about IE9? Leave them in the Talkback section.

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