Microsoft's IE attempts to regain browser dominance over Firefox, Chrome

by Knowlton Thomas

Will HTML5 change the playing field of web browser domination?

Internet Explorer, which has lagged incredibly far behind leading competitors Firefox and Google Chrome, anticipates a legitimate shot at returning to its glory days with the new IE 9, to launch in 2011. Aside from a select few crusty corporations still crappily comfortable with the internet-relic IE 6, the web browser legions of today have moved on, so IE 9 has its work cut out.

Ryan Gavin, who is the head of Microsoft Internet Explorer, said that Microsoft was generating substantial interest in IE 9. The source of interest? External software developers. The reasons? "New capabilities," and a new, more "open approach" toward third parties, according to an article in The Globe and Mail.

IE 9 needs the interest. Microsoft was overtaken earlier this month by Apple as the world’s "most valuable technology company." And it's watched Internet Explorer’s market share erode to 60 percent from over 90 percent in the early years of last decade.

But the competition is as fierce as ever: Google is developing a rival OS based off its Chrome browser, and is intended to be leaner and more web-friendly than Windows—not to mention completely free, as per the Google usual.

Yet, even so, Microsoft is confident. It's betting that IE 9 will provide a superior visual experience by harnessing the power of computers' graphics processors via Windows to accelerate the software process. Bring in a big factor in this tangle of web-trailblazers, the next evolution of web coding, HTML5. It's new web standard gaining popularity. It also hopes to be able to deliver powerful visuals while simplifying the life of developers and improving user experience. HTML5 creates rich applications like web video that are currently enabled by the renowned Adobe’s Flash and Microsoft’s own, far-less-used "Silverlight" technology. HTML5 is already at the centre of the great tech war between Adobe and Apple, the latter of which has rejected Flash on its iPhone and iPad in favour of HTML5.

Apple chooses HTML5—and so does Microsoft. “We are putting HTML5 at the centre of IE 9. We are all in with HTML5,” Ryan Gavin stated.

Unlike Microsoft's typical corporate behaviour, they rolled out a test-drive platform, and perform regular updates on the site as it nears launch date. The platform has been downloaded more than a million times since the first version was published in March.

Responses from developers on the Microsoft IE blog have been mixed. There are new possibilities, but many complain that IE 9 requires the latest Windows 7 or Vista software to run. One blog commenter brought up the elephant in the blog, so to speak: “What good is a browser if most of the people keep using XP and won’t be able to use it?”

XP is 9 years old—absolutely ancient in web-years—but still has more than 60 percent of the total operating system market, according to web analytics firm Net Applications. Vista and Windows 7 combine for less than 30 percent.

Have you tested the new Internet Explorer? What are your thoughts?


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Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton is the managing editor of Techvibes and author of Tempest Bound. Based in Vancouver, Knowlton has been published in national publications and has also appeared on television and radio. Previously he was an editor for New Westminster weekly The Other Press and served on its board of directors. When not working, Knowlton enjoys hiking, tennis, and martial arts. more

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