The first IE10 preview at MIX11 and thoughts on that

I’m currently in Las Vegas for Microsoft’s MIX conference where they just showed the first version of Internet Explorer 10. Given what they announced, I have some thoughts.

Things introduced in IE10

Let’s start with the support announced in IE10:

  • CSS3 Multi-column Layout
  • CSS3 Grid Layout
  • CSS3 Flexible Box Layout
  • CSS3 Gradients
  • CSS3 Transitions
  • CSS3 3D Transforms
  • EcmaScript 5 Strict Mode

All great things, and I’m honestly really happy that every web browser are seriously looking into improving how we lay out things on the web! It will be interesting to see if Grid layout takes off with other web browser vendors.

Also, for designing things it’s good to have gradients in there together with transitions.

You can download and try out an IE10 preview right now – something I think is great! I’ve wanted more openness from Microsoft, and I think something like that is a good move in that direction.

Why not in IE9?

Stated on stage, all of this new support has been developed in the last three weeks (probably initiated before that). My initial reaction was: why wasn’t this in IE9? Sure, I understand it’s about developing, testing and having previews of that. And I agree with the argument that it’s good to release often and get things out there.

But, here is my reasoning:

Today we already have enormous fragmentation with Internet Explorer. We need to test in IE6 (some have to, at least), IE7, IE8 and IE9. And since you can’t run multiple versions of Internet Explorer in Windows (Microsoft Expression Web SuperPreview is just snapshots and web browser versions mode are not the same as the stand-alone versions), you already need to have 4 virtual machines.

Also, with the release rate of Internet Explorer, I estimate we won’t be seeing IE10 in at least a year. Even more fragmentation, even more versions to test, even more virtual machines…

And since IE doesn’t auto-update (only through Windows Update) and there has been shifting support with backwards compatibility, Microsoft is not there yet in its distributing model (I will write a blog post later today/early tomorrow on this topic – please stay tuned).

Therefore, having 4-5 wild versions of Internet Explorer in the market, with varying web standards support for older versions, I judge that eventually people will get tired of/stop testing for all IE versions – could be no time, money etc to justify that – and that this will affect end users negatively.

The comparison with other web browsers

During the presentation, lots of comparisons were done with Google Chrome, and some “clever” comments about the slower performance in Google Chrome on the demos they were showing, and about other web browsers implementing Web Sockets support and then the standard was changing. Personally I think this is saddening.

Sure I agree that it’s good to show and compare performance, but as we know, demos will always be biased (no matter if they’re built on open standards) and the ones that works best in the current web browser is of course the one that will be shown.

I’m impressed and glad that Microsoft has gotten such good performance in IE9 and seem to build on that in IE10, but mocking remarks really takes away from that. When it comes to other web browsers implementing new things and leading the way, I’d definitely wouldn’t recommend going down that route.

And, to be clear, Microsoft aren’t the only ones doing this, but I think we need to stop with this approach. Friendly and constructive comparisons, absolutely. But “funny” remarks doesn’t help anyone.

I wish IE10, and all other web browsers, will be great. Here’s to the future of the web and open standards!

Posted in CSS,Developing,HTML5/HTML/XHTML,Technology,Web browsers |

9 Comments

  • Teylor Feliz says:

    Hi Robert,

    I agree with you on wait a little and release the IE9 with those features. Also, IE9 is very old, we were waiting the release for about a year and they only supported less than half of the features of HTML5/CSS3 and no Ecmacript5 strict mode.

    I am glad that Microsoft understood that they cannot wait 6 years to release a new version of the browser.

    Please, ask the ms team about auto updates in IE…

    Thanks!!!

  • mdmadph says:

    Yeah, I don’t like the sniping — I’m used to Microsoft just ignoring that other browsers even exist. I guess that the fact that they’re even bothering to snipe now says something about their diminishing market share.

    But the sniping by everyone is just terrible — it reached ridiculous levels by Apple in their iPad2 announcement, for instance.

  • David Bruant says:

    With the work they put into ECMAScript 5, they are likely to have a better (closer to the standard) implementation than the others as they release IE10. Microsoft is the major contributor to the test262 test suite (http://test262.ecmascript.org/). It’s interesting to see Microsoft investing so much in testing (http://samples.msdn.microsoft.com/ietestcenter/).

    Apparently, they’re doing internally some sort of Test-Driven Development. It allows them to be sure their implementation is good. Afterward, they offer the tests to the community, but they are already ahead (which is the reason why their latest version always has 100% everywhere on the IE testcenter).

    I could accuse them to purposefully choose their test in order to have them fail in at least another browser, but I’d be too suspicious maybe.
    At least, it’s very unlikely to be the case for the ES5 test for which they are really doing a great job at covering the spec.

    Good to see new technologies, but as you point out, update policy is really the big deal.

  • David Naylor says:

    The number one argument against making snarky and smug comments is that it makes you look like a total douchebag. Esp. when 100% of your audience knows all the history of the browser scene.

  • […] The first IE10 preview at MIX11 and thoughts on that – Robert's talk Looks like IE10 is coming shortly (yay!) and they're currently showing off its improved CSS3 […]

  • Yoav Weiss says:

    First, I have to say that I’m glad to see that all the above features are going in, even if it’s not for IE9. An IE version once a year is better then one every 5… On the other hand, I do see reports that beta is for September and the release will be in 2012, so the IE release cycle is faster, but not as fast as the competition.
    Other then that, I really hope that some of the major stuff like File API, Offline apps and Forms will also be released as part of IE10. A feature road map that will let us know what is planned to be released as part of IE10 would be very helpful.

  • Ron Derksen says:

    Although I agree with most of your post, I think the adoption rate for IE9 (and IE10) is too low to warrant much attention at the moment. If you look at the browser stats for the past 3 months at http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser_version-eu-monthly-201101-201103-bar, you’ll see that IE9 isn’t even showing up. And as long as IE9/10 are coupled to Vista/Win7, it won’t increase very much, because a lot of people and companies are staying on WinXP.

    That means that testing for these new browsers can be done as a bonus, in my opinion. To use the Yahoo-terms, I would consider IE9/10 as an X-grade browser.

  • Gosh!

    Now, exactly what am I going to run on my XP machine? Supposing I like round corners but don’t like to use a eScissors to cut up PSDs?

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Thanks for the feedback! Good to see people agree with me in regards to the sniping.

    Yoav,

    Yes, I really hope for that too.

    Ron,

    It’s true, but I still see the future risk with tons of various versions out there.

    Martin,

    Something else than IE, it turns out.

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