With the release of Platform Preview 4 Build 18.104.22.168.16.6000 of Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), Microsoft compared fully-accelerated HTML5 web experiences in the next iteration of its browser to what open source rivals Firefox and Chrome are capable of delivering. The company granted me access to the video embedded below ahead of the launch of the final developer preview of IE9, but now the content is available to all users. In the demo, Rob Mauceri, Group Program Manager for Internet Explorer, takes a look at some of the new samples live on the IE Test Drive Center.
It quickly becomes obvious from the demonstration that IE9 delivers superior HTML5 experiences to rivals Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. Users can of course download the browsers themselves, head over to the IE Test Drive Center and put IE9 Preview 4, Firefox and Chrome through the test made available for Microsoft. In order to get the best experience with IE9 users will need Windows 7 or Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2) and a DirectX 11 graphics card.
“The performance benefits of hardware acceleration are clear from running different sample sites side by side in IE9 and other browsers. Browsers that implement partial hardware acceleration – for example, text-only, or video-playback only, or image-only acceleration – offer inconsistent and possibly unpredictable platform experiences to developers and end-users,” revealed Dean Hachamovitch, General Manager, Internet Explorer.
“IE9 offers consistent, fully hardware-accelerated text, graphics, and media, both audio and video. Try Hamster Dance Revolution, IE Beatz, or MSNBC Video in different browsers to experience the difference. Psychedelic Browsing demonstrates what HTML5 canvas can do when it’s fully accelerated with the GPU,” he added.
When I spoke over the phone with Ryan Gavin, senior director of Internet Explorer earlier this week, he emphasized that the efforts made by the IE team to harness the power of the GPU will allow developers to build web applications that will deliver user experiences similar to apps running locally on machines. The video at the bottom of this article is an excellent illustration of the differences between a browser that turns to the GPU for graphics processing, and browsers that continue to rely on the CPU.
But at the same time, GPU-powered HTML5 is not just about graphics. Sure SVG content can be better animated, but GPU processing can also extend to images, fonts and sound. This is what Microsoft means when it says IE9 comes with fully hardware-accelerated HTML5, namely superior experiences when GPU processing is performed for bitmap images, text, graphics, and media (audio and video). But this means that in addition to modern hardware, IE9 also needs graphics technology that shipped in Windows 7 and was backported to Vista SP2, DirectX 11 (APIs such as Direct2D and DirectWrite).
Of course, as hardware is concerned, Microsoft is working closely with its partners to make sure that end users will benefit from the best experiences possible. “Here at AMD we continue to collaborate closely with Microsoft to ensure that IE9 can take full advantage of AMD’s CPU and GPU hardware technologies to deliver outstanding hardware-accelerated performance. Check out here and here for more info on how precisely AMD and Microsoft work together to enable a richer Internet experience,” revealed Matt Kimball, a Product Marketing Manager at AMD.
“The IE9 platform continues to push what users can do with HTML5 in the real world, especially when paired with hardware acceleration, as well as providing high-quality 2D rendering with Direct2D, a hardware-accelerated 2D graphics API. We’re looking forward to the IE9 beta, which is expected to usher in an intensely visual, new class of web experiences,” Kimball added.
Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) Platform Preview 4 Build 22.214.171.124.16.6000 is available for download here.
Firefox 4.0 Beta 2 for Windows is available for download here.
Google Chrome 6.0.472.22 for Windows is available for download here.