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IE 10 Platform Preview Released

Microsoft at the MIX11 conference for Web developers announced today that the first platform preview of Internet Explorer 10 was available for immediate download. Developers can download the pre-release version of IE 10 here.

Platform previews for IE 10 will appear every 12 weeks (a switch from eight weeks), allowing Microsoft to get continuous developer feedback, according to Microsoft's announcement. With that schedule, the next platform preview for IE 10 should appear in the second week of July.

The platform preview of IE 10 contains a demonstration of gradient backgrounds, exploited using CSS 3 technology. These gradient backgrounds are typically created through graphics programs, but Microsoft used the HTML 5 spec in IE 10 platform preview to achieve the effect. A Microsoft-produced video claims that Webkit-based browsers, such as Google Chrome and Apple Safari, use "different markup" to create such gradients.

Another demo with the IE 10 platform preview shows how multiple columns are handled through CSS 3. Varying-length paragraphs of text from a Twitter feed are flowed into multiple columns. Microsoft's video shows the text being clipped off in Mozilla Firefox 4.

Also with this platform preview release, Microsoft continues to hammer home its point that the browser, operating system and graphics acceleration hardware all contribute to the user experience. IE 9 only works with Windows Vista and Windows 7. It doesn't work with Windows XP, which may no longer be the most used operating system anymore, at least in the U.S. market, according to one source.

Dean Hachamovitch, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Internet Explorer made those points and more on stage during MIX keynote address and in Microsoft's IE blog. He stated in the IE blog that "the only native experience of the Web and HTML5 today is on Windows 7 with IE9." Oddly, that statement leaves out Vista users. Hachamovitch also explained a little more in the blog why Microsoft isn't supporting Windows XP with IE 9.

"Browsers that use modern operating systems more directly deliver better experiences," Hachamovitch wrote. "Browsers that compromise (by spreading across too many OSes and OS versions) face challenges. For example, building a new browser for the ten-year old version of Windows that came with IE6 [Windows XP] didn't make sense to us because of the limitations of its graphics and security architectures."

The hardware acceleration issue was demonstrated in the new IE 10 platform preview in a fish-tank demo, which is now a fish bowl. Microsoft's video shows that the Google Chrome 11 browser is unable to match the animation and rendering speeds of the IE 10 platform preview.

Users of IE 9 need a graphics processing unit (GPU) in their machine that is capable of hardware acceleration to see the optimum HTML 5 speed improvements. Microsoft's IE 9 browser actually checks to see if the GPU and drivers of a user's machine will perform faster than software emulation. If not, IE 9 will switch to software emulation using its Windows Advanced Rasterization Platform (WARP), a DirectX emulator. The fallback to WARP can sometimes be avoided by upgrading the machine's GPU drivers. Microsoft explains those details here.

Microsoft also made a number of other announcements of interest to developers during the MIX 11 keynote address, which are described here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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