Internet Explorer 9 takes the lead, again, for now

About six months ago at Microsoft PDC09, Dean Hachamovitch revealed Internet Explorer 9 for the first time and teased a relatively new browser rendering technique based on Direct2D, at the time. Barely weeks after, Mozilla also showed off their implementation of Direct2D rendering in a nightly build of Firefox.

Now at MIX10 Microsoft once again showed off a bunch of groundbreaking new (performance) features but I’m now skeptical second time coming if they’ll be as innovative when it eventually ships. Remember, even Internet Explorer 8 took the lead in terms of performance, when it was announced too.

In a press briefing I asked Dean if they fear the new features they showed off today could be implemented by other browsers that ship sooner, he responded “the Windows API is very rich” and he supports other applications who take advantage of them.

Of course this shouldn’t take away the fact that when Internet Explorer 9 will be great for end-users and the web as a whole when it finally ships, but by that time, it might be back right where it started – catching up to what is easily the fastest evolving industry in the world with an update cycle that doesn’t match.

24 insightful thoughts

  1. @Firefox: Firefox hasn’t got Direct2D and DirectWrite in any final versions. IE 9 hasn’t been “released” today, only a dev preview. Both Firefox (in open form) and IE 9 (in closed form) has had support for hardware acceleration for months now.

    1. exactly what i was going to say. the average joe aint going to download a dogfood build unless they are a dev. trust me dogfood builds of sp’s & ie can damage the components the rtw build needs if your pc manufacture didnt customize the os image right

  2. I don’t really care so much about rendering, Javascript perf. Where Chrome just REALLY beats IE right now for me is “click chrome icon”->type url in->see something. That experience is light years better in chrome than in ie, because there is no flickering of different ui parts when the browser starts, the address field doesn’t flicker around etc. It simply is faster and smoother. To me, that really is what IE needs to fix.

  3. Davidacoder nailed it. Even my high end computer has horrible lag in IE compared to Chrome. When I launch IE8 (on Windows 7), it takes several (several!!) seconds for me to be able to alt-d to the address bar and begin typing. And even then, half the time it stutters and then replaces my text with the address of the homepage it finally loaded (which is about:blank for cryin’ out loud!)

    Microsoft, you gotta do better if you want to win me back.

  4. I do believe Microsoft recently put together a new dedicated team to continuously update and improve the Trident layout engine and implement it in IE 9 development builds every 6-8 weeks. I think you’ll continue to see that even after the final build of IE 9 is released.

  5. Couldn’t agree more with @Davidacoder – spot on there. Ok forever opening and closing the browser and chrome nails it in this scenario. I’m not am “anti-ie” type and try hard to use ie for years but this “legacy” starting issue is a real problem …

    Let’s hope improvements can be made.

  6. @Shawn, I understand that you are not naive user. But, most of us have our preferences towards one particular vendor and tend to be biased towards them. You might know, that opening of IE takes time if you have multiple home pages, lots of toolbars which you might never need in your entire life, lots of add-ons doing nothing but consuming resources. We all know that. Yet we tend to pretend that it is IE at fault. If you are not aware of all these..please follow these suggestions and see the difference. No matter what you think, IE 8 on windows 7 is much better than IE 8 on XP or Vista. That is for sure and it is on par with chrome/firefox on Windows 7.

  7. Considering the time they took to ship IE8 after it was announced, IE9 should RTM in June 2011. Which may not be the case but it definitely won’t ship in say, 6 months. It’s sometime in 2011. Which is ridiculous and lame. And then they sit around for 1 year announcing nothing.

  8. I would not be surprised if IE9 would ship in the Win8 timeframe. There were rumors that Win8 might come out in 2011.

  9. On a totally different note: At PDC Ozzie said that they would talk about Live in the Mix timeframe. Unless I missed it, they didn’t even mention Live once during the keynotes. What is going on? I understand that schedules change, but clearly it would be decent to at least come out and say “gosh, actually we’ll let you know about Live at around TechEd”. I am getting really annoyed with MS anouncing when they will anounce something, and then that date comes and they don’t even say something like, we will anounce later. Did anyone hear ANYTHING?

  10. Opera 10.5 on XPSP3 beats IE9 on Windows 7 (WDDM 1.1 discrete graphics drivers) in the falling balls, spinning logos and map zooming tests. The decision to phase out XP is a business decision and they should have the balls to say that instead of giving fake technical reasons. Do Flash player and Silverlight not have hardware acceleration on WinXP? Alienating 650 million users is going to do them no good and other browsers will now rapidly gain users. Being a long time IE user, I am not switching to Chrome or Opera.

  11. its nice to see that the winmo 7 ie is better.

    if only they made flushing select cookies easier for advanced users since thats what slows it down besides the dns cache

  12. These speed tests are rubbish. What we really need to measure is how long it takes to open a new tab, and how often the interface locks up.

    Chrome ftw.

  13. Exactly. I use Chrome because it’s fast. When I press Ctrl-T, I can instantly start typing a new URL. In IE, I have to wait, sometimes 5 to 10 seconds — unacceptable. Sometimes in IE, you’ll start typing a URL, but then it finally ‘catches up’ and replaces the URL with the homepage it was trying to open (which is About:blank!!!) Nothing could be more irritating than IE.

    IE9 better be fast to win me back.

  14. i’m fine with ie & opera as a back up for both platforms(wm/windows) even ds/wii though the flash is unexceptable on those game consoles a side from dsi/xl

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