IE 9: Standards and Interoperability

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The IE team is busy working on the next version of the world's most popular browser. IE 8 is the most widely used browser on Windows. IE 9 is currently in the oven and the IE team is ready to talk about what they're working on. Here, IE GM Dean Hachamovitch introduces some of the key advances his team is making and leads us through the halls of IE (literarally) to learn from the engineers who are building the future of IE. John Hrvatin and Kris Krueger talk to us about where they are with improvements in IE 9's interoperability and standards support.



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    The Discussion

    • User profile image

      Charles:  you have a link up there in the summary that is no good.

    • User profile image

      What about the Microsoft's agreement at the W3C re: the Canvas?


      "We are resolved to close ISSUE-15 immediate-mode-graphics by accepting requirement for immediate mode graphics API & canvas element."   Chris Wilson - Microsoft

    • User profile image

      Fixed! Thanks for catching that. Smiley

    • User profile image

      A video on standards and interoperability that runs on Silverlight? Really?

    • User profile image

      Until Charles comments upon Canvas, SVG, DOM Events, HTML5, etc, this is just another Orwellian exercise.  So come on,  welcome some change, and tell us what's really going on?  


      I am counting down to being officially ignored, my comment deleted, our being given a polite non-answer.  What will it be? 

    • User profile image

      I agree wholeheartedly with ceejayoz. Silverlight? Really?


      You guys aren't even trying to look like you're backing up what you're saying anymore. "We support web standards and believe in interoperability! Check out our totally proprietary alternative to flash, which is also totally proprietary!"

    • User profile image

      Webkit. Everyone else is doing it for a reason.

    • User profile image

      Interestingly the Silverlight include doesn't even work correctly (under Windows 7 no less), the first time I visited the page, it just downloaded the video (Incidentally, it's a WMV which is again a closed standard no one wants).


      No, the download link is not very clear, and could do with some open formats so I don't have to play games to play WMVs.


      Oh, and "Most Used" != "Most Popular" popular things don't enjoy a constant, rapid decline in use.


      Killer Acid 3 score by the way Wink

    • User profile image

      Click on the Media Download link on the right side of the player section (lower right) and choose the format that works for you. The inline player is Silverlight, but we have supported multiple formats for a long time now. Is the link not obvious enough?

    • User profile image

      This is a great question actually Smiley


      To be clear, the purpose of this conversation with Dean and team was to take a chance and provide a really early look into what's going on in IE world. Clearly, there's plenty more to talk about, but, well, you'll need to wait until the IE team has something to say. For now, watch these videos, read their blog and ask questions today on Channel 9 Live: Dean will be on with me at 3:30PM PST Smiley

    • User profile image

      +1 what JoeWebArchitect said above.


      Does Microsoft wonder why every web developer despises IE? Do we need to spell it out to you? Yer 10 years behind EVERYone else (debatably more).


      Keep throwing out the "Most Used" statistics to make yourselves feel good. I bet your own internal IT teams use Mozilla/Chrome/Safari because they know better.

    • User profile image

      Web developers despise IE because of IE6. Web developers would despise Firefox too if anyone was using that old version of Firefox.

    • User profile image

      "is the link not obvious enough" No.. it's not - even after reading your post it still took me 30 seconds to find it (and I completely missed it prior to reading your post), this is pre-morning coffee though


      Simply offering an alternative (standard) while still pushing proprietary formats down peoples throats still doesn't speak to openness to standards & the like though IMHO

    • User profile image

      Hi Charles,


      The link could be clearer, but that's not really the point. And IE8 is a big leap forward, but again it's not really the point.


      If Microsoft is committed to interoperability why is it wasting money and time on a proprietery format like Silverlight? With the rest of the browsers working to implement HTML5 <video>, <audio> and <canvas> attributes it seems daft to spend cash working on a problem that don't need fixing.


      Unless of your idea of interoperability is everyone on your platform, your web.


      I heard of a great way to increase IE8 performance too, installing Google frame. Why waste money developing the IE engine further when you can just chip into webkit or mozilla? That way you'd save a load of cash and time and acheive higher levels of interoperability almost overnight? Your customers certainly aren't going to care. The ones stuck with IE6 and it's quirks aren't going to upgrade anyway, and the others will probbly just prefer a faster web.





    • User profile image

      You're absolutely right - mind you with Apple kicking up a stink about <video> in HTML5 we've probably got years of this crap to come.


      Waiting for the Direct X video to download, because even the idea of that screams more of the same Silverlight BS "We didn't like the way others were doing things so we did it our own way as a plugin so no one could complain about standards".


      Guys, get IE rendering as well as Webkit/Gecko (that includes HTML5), then add stuff.

    • User profile image

      Ditch Trident, ditch Silverlight, and then you can talk about standards.

    • User profile image

      The shrugging your shoulders at the acid3 test is the worst action I've seen for so long, I won’t directly call anybody ignorant but I'm definitely implying that if MS ignores such an important standard I don't care how much GPU rendering power you've got, you'll lose to others in the sea which can eat bigger fish.

      These tests are MASSIVELY important and are not just a spec test, it’s an implementation coverage test to which IE really REALLY fails on with flying bombs all over the place, and I truly hope they pick their feet up.  The spec does indeed test for the corner cases on implementation, but that very reason is why web pages can be browser agnostic and consumable by any engine, IE needs to play better in the web space to the extreme compared to current performance.  Sure as an OS and hardware abstraction, Windows is indeed top class.  But IE is soooooooo hoooorrriibbllyyy SHITTY GUYS so much that I'm surprisingly not ashamed one bit for being completely honest in my opinion about the subject of the IE team trying to live in their own self-created world to think outside their own renderer.


      IE team, for the love of god and anything holy, there is a big reason all other web browsers do their best to conform to passing the acid3 because it enables the crap-ton of bad * amateur code that the renderer HAS to be able to handle.  The browser is the gateway app to an internet full of malware, if it tries to only focus on the cases its good at or is strong, then it will fail easier when trying to be broken or even by accident.  The acid3 to me is a robustness of implementation test, and my 100% true recommendation to the IE team is at least try to play nice with the others, to let them live on without too big a grudge against the IE.

      So sure I've been harsh to IE but I just feel I had to vent on how amazingly frustrated it made me watching the team not be ashamed of their suboptimal 32 score on the acid3 from their own smugness and denial of importance it truly is as an implementation safety net mechanism to close all the loose ends which IE leaves untied and hanging loose.


      I really want them to pass the test (at least try yo improve their conformance) because it’s important for the very thing they try and tout about, interoperability.


      Aim for this sort of goodness Smiley Good luck IE, were all counting on you!!


      acid2 Compliance Smiley <img src='' alt='Smiley' />

    • User profile image



      Do you or your manager, or you manager's manager understand that by not addressing well-informed questions from members of the web-development community that this site has the opposite effect of its intent?  The community is *furious* with Microsoft for its disregard of current and near-term standards.  By only answering the softball questions here you create more and more anti-IE zealots.   Everyone on this board who you stonewall will blog and comment about how this site is yet another fake Microsoft community.  Totally controlled, all astroturf, all the time.


      Don't you understand people would be overjoyed if any good news *ever* came out of IE's standardization efforts.  You would be heroes.  No one would ever download Firefox, Chrome or Opera.  The IE that came with Windows would be good enough.  The development community doesn't hate IE for silly prejudicial reasons, we hate it because it makes our jobs harder.  If IE9 could get real about standards, the community would welcome it back with open arms.   


      A real conversation will unfortunately never happen.  I am mostly writing here to all the other web developers.   Aside from paid SEO types, nobody ever says anything good about what you do.  I guess I still have a 0.0000001% hope that somebody at Microsoft still cares about technology and will bring about some positive change. 



    • User profile image

      Not true.  Not true at all.


      IE6 is a train wreck from a web designer's perspective, yes.  As you point out, however, it is quite an old browser (one that unfortunately has a huge install base).


      Nevertheless, IE7 and IE8 are still behind when it compared to Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari.  And I can't really blame the IE team, as I'm sure they are operating under certain constraints from Microsoft.

    • User profile image

      Good to see that IE9 will have improvements to the JS engine and is working on some of the things missing from IE8. 


      Keep up the great work!

    • User profile image

      I am not trying to come across as a smart a** but really I am genuinely curious.


      Do you appreciate just how much this video annoys the hell out of developers?

      Or how none of us can understand why you are still even building your own rendering engine?

      What about the fact that if average users understood this that noone would use IE at all.


      Do you ever wonder how many people would go out of their way to download IE if it wasn't the default choice for them? Probably the same amount of users who email you asking to please re-release IE for the Mac because it is such a superior browser.


      How do you get away with spending so much time claiming to "listen to developers" and then take something like Acid which clearly we all genuinely care about and then essentially ignore it.


      Have you considered that many of us out there think that this is EXACTLY the kind of thing that literally slows down the advancement of technology for years to come. What exactly are you expecting the developer reaction to this when you launch it?


      Just the fact that not one of these comments on here so far has been "wow way to go guys I am excited". Please I am begging you don't do this to everyone. I'd love for you to reply I am more than happy to discuss this in a calm and reasonable manner. Just don't let this become another joke to the rest of us though.


    • User profile image

      Silverlight standards fail - video doesn't play in Firefox, Safari, and plays the video in a WM popup via ie7 - ironic that a usability topic about content delivery doesn't deliver content!

    • User profile image

      Re: the comment about web devs hating IE due to IE6, I'm a web dev, and I hate IE because of IE5, IE6, IE7, and IE8. Microsoft has proven over and over and over again that they could not care less about designers and developers on the web. I'm a member of several groups in my area, and one of the most-discussed topics at web design/dev meetups is all of our hatred for IE, and how to deal with the numerous headaches and nightmares it causes us. Out of 20+ designers and developers at a typical meeting, about 1 uses Windows, and ZERO use IE at all. We run it in a virtual machine for testing, and even then get out of it and shut down the VM immediately as soon as we're done testing. We hate it that much. I'm not looking forward to IE 9. More headaches, more problems, more hacks and workarounds for Microsoft's bullheaded, self-absorbed ways of doing things.



      Microsoft: if you really care about the web or it's developers, ditch your custom rendering engine and embrace WebKit. Then, wholeheartedly support and embrace ALL web standards. Websites should render in IE the way they do in the other mainstream browsers. We should not have to write IE-specific hacks for every single website. Clean out all of the feature bloat, throw out all the user interface clutter and nasty toolbars, and shrink the browser down to make it something that does one thing, and one thing well — browsing the internet. Imagine that.


    • User profile image

      Tangent flame war, everyone is not necessarily going webkit. FireFox for example still uses Gecko and it works fine.


      Charles I agree, although the Media Downloads combo box does blend in so it doesnt jump out at a quick glance. It seems any mention of browsers is going to get the flame war going.


      For whoever flamed because C9 uses silverlight and not flash, you should wake up and realize flash is just as proprietary. Real open web stardard support would mean using and html5 player. Give it time friend, html5 will be everywhere shortly.

    • User profile image

      Whats the difference between this and Flash?

      Less security patches maybe?

    • User profile image

      At the moment, there is no standards compliant way to show video. HTML5 is still in last call phase and likely won't reach CR until 2012. So umm. Is Flash the "standard"? Quicktime?


      Next time, please research your pointless comment.

    • User profile image

      what about border-image and canvas support?


      We need border-image and canvas support!



    • User profile image

      Google and Apple are everybody now? I guess I missed the notice that 8% was now considered everybody.

    • User profile image
      a Martin

      Maybe it could be offered in several different video formats then?

    • User profile image

      Channel 9 Media Download Formats

    • User profile image

      Video played just fine for me in both Firefox and IE8 on Win7Ult 64, but ok.


      Maybe I'm a total n00b who's been doing this for a decade, but what are you guys doing in web development that is so innovative that it has such a problem with IE?  My sites/apps typically have no rendering problems in any browser, and I don't have to use hacks... just XHTML, CSS, jQuery, etc...  Of course, in the construction HVAC industry, I'm in a bit of a bubble.  85% of our visitors use IE and of those, 24% are still on IE6 even though I have a yellow-bar effect strongly suggesting that they upgrade.  We're lucky that some of our customers use email.


      That being said... yes, I'll put in another vote for border-image support.  I don't care much about canvas until there are tools that allow me to do what Flash or Silverlight can do in the same amount of time... not that it will really matter much to my bottom line, because I'll still need to buy Adobe CS Master Collection for everything else I do.

    • User profile image

      First. It's great news to see Microsoft going full steam with IE9. The Direct 2d + subpixel rendering is some fresh air in the IE camp that is otherwise playing catchup with the competition.


      I follow the IE blog since IE8 alpha and I can say that whatever Microsoft do, there will always be someone to trash the efforts being done.


      But IE is still the dominant browser. There is a responsibility by Microsoft to deliver something on par with other browsers, particularly Chrome. Microsoft made a great move with IE8 making it standard compliant by default instead of opt-in. IE9 has to score better : acid3 + html5, javascript perf (congrat on what is accomplished thus far), ECMAScript Harmony support would be the level bar. For my part, I wish that XSLT 2.0 + Xpath 2.0 be supported.


      Go Ms Go !


    • User profile image

      Guys I even came back here today to see if you made some comment, something to quell the anger and yet nothing.


      I am 100% serious I would love for you to please just reply to some of these comments, you know connect with the people who matter.


      I will be back in a couple of days to see if again anything has changed or we should all just give up hope now

    • User profile image

      You can also make comments on the IE blog...


      I'll ask the IE folks to follow up on this thread.


    • User profile image

      You asked if the link to other formats was not obvious enough, and I can't help but respond.


      the "media downloads" are in grey text, on a gray background, and the icons (a "windows", a cinderblock with blue in one of the holes, a zune that has been faded by the sun, and elipses) are grayed out. When you mouse over the icons, they remain grayed out and the cursor does not change. But if you mouse over the words, or the tiny down arrow a bit off to the right of all that, the icons light up and the cursor still does not change.


      It can hardly compete for the attention drawn to video preview image with the man whose mouth, nose, left eye, and left ear are covered up by a giant "install microsoft silverlight" banner.

    • User profile image

      Thanks for the feedback. We should make the multiple formats options more obvious. I will add this to our feature queue.


    • User profile image

      Dean here... so, we (on the IE team) are reading the comments. First, thanks for the feedback. There's a lot of passion, especially about what video formats C9 videos are in, and how easy it is to get one format or another. There's some great conversation going on here (e.g. how many different engines there are, and the difference between everyone and 8% (


      Getting people to switch up from IE6 to IE8 (or even IE7) is something we all seem to agree about. There are a lot of good reasons: security, performance, as well as the benefits to developers. As excited as anyone who read Channel9 is to get the latest software on our own machines, remembering that not everyone is a developer is important too. There's another post here about that topic.


      Have folks looked over at the W3C CSS 2.1 working group and the discussions there about test suites and real-world usage patterns? I think there's some valuable material with respect to delivering on interoperable standards. What else is on C9ers' minds?

    • User profile image

      Dean, will you at least make a brief statement about SVG, Canvas, other HTML5 features, DOM Events, anything.  It seems a little bit smug to put down the "8%", which is probably larger.  And you know this number is skewed towards technologists and developers, 3G/4G mobile users and the like.  


      For me personally, I don't like having to use Flash, or non-standard Canvas implementations, or VML, or Silverlight.  You know very well that the market wants more interactive, fun content.  You also know that the web world is very fragmented in this area.  What do you say?



    • User profile image

      I taught web design for two years in a university setting and wasted countless hours dealing with issues around IE's lack of standards compliance. I think Microsoft needs to understand the following two things: 1. the company's insistence on going its own way, because it can, results in a measurable loss of productivity across the entire sphere of web development activities. This costs people money, real money. It costs Microsoft immense amounts of goodwill. 2. I've been in practically every coffee and tea house in Portland and everywhere I go, wherever I see new computers, I see Apple machines outnumbering windows laptops by about five to one. Come to Portland and see for yourself.

    • User profile image

      I learned web design for two years at a university and wasted countless hours in the field of intellectual property by the lack of standards compliance. , .I think Microsoft needs two things: understanding. The company can have its own way because they lead to a significant loss of productivity in the whole spectrum of web development. This will cost people money, real money. Cuesta Microsoft enormous goodwill. I have to go in almost all coffee-and tea-house in Portland and half I know where I went to see the new team, I see the Apple machines outnumber Windows laptop with about five at a time. Get to Portland and see for yourselves

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