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!