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Microsoft shows off Internet Explorer 9 preview

Microsoft's platform preview of its upcoming IE9 browser includes Scalable Vector Graphics, which will improve web-based graphical elements
By Stephen Shankland, Contributor on
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Microsoft showed off Internet Explorer 9 Platform Preview on Tuesday, with headline features including support for web standards and faster performance.

One such standard is Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), and one technology benefiting from better performance is web-based JavaScript programs.

This view of a demonstration shows off the abilities chiefly of the faster JavaScript, long a sore spot for Internet Explorer (IE) performance, but the balls themselves are rendered with SVG. It includes a physical simulation of the balls interacting in gravity.

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Microsoft aims to improve performance with the existing web as well as to support new features. For the former challenge, one change coming in IE9 is support for Direct2D and DirectWrite graphics and text acceleration in Windows Vista and Windows 7. This demonstration of whirling browser logos, including drop shadows and occlusion, uses hardware acceleration to speed performance.

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Miss the Asteroids game from 1979? SVG and JavaScript power this knock-off.

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Hardware graphics are used to improve text rendering. Specifically, with DirectWrite, the text 'antialiased' with grey pixels to smooth the curves and letters are placed precisely with 'sub-pixel positioning'. Some of this technology in general has been in use for years, but the new implementation adds the grey pixels to account for both vertical and horizontal curves.

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This shows a single word, magnified threefold to better illustrate the graphics of sub-pixel positioning.

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Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) can control formatting details with economical programming, but IE has lagged rivals in CSS3 support. This demonstration shows how a border can be controlled in a variety of ways.

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There's better eye candy in the graphics world, but this demonstration of SVG-controlled, sometimes transparent ellipses animated through JavaScript does illustrate new in-browser graphics abilities.

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Graphics on the web today are usually done pixel by pixel. SVG lets many graphical elements be constructed by mathematical constructs called vectors that make items such as arrows and shapes easy to draw and compact to download. This SVG demonstration shows a United Nations that can be resized easily and rapidly.

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