Microsoft has unveiled the first details of Internet Explorer 9, promising that it will close the performance gap on rival browsers.
Although Microsoft admitted it only started working on IE9 three weeks ago, the company still felt confident enough to share details of the next-generation browser with attendees at its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles.
The major newcomer is a revamped rendering engine that will tap the power of the PC's graphics card to accelerate text and graphics performance.
"We’re changing IE to use the DirectX family of Windows APIs to enable many advances for web developers," Internet Explorer's general manager, Dean Hachamovitch, explains on the Internet Explorer blog.
"The starting point is moving all graphics and text rendering from the CPU to the graphics card using Direct2D and DirectWrite. Graphics hardware acceleration means that rich, graphically intensive sites can render faster while using less CPU."
As well as improving performance, Microsoft claims the hardware acceleration will enhance the appearance and readability of fonts on the web, with sub-pixel positioning that eradicates the jagged edges on large typefaces.
Hachamovitch claims Microsoft has also made progress with making IE9 more standards compatible. He claims that Internet Explorer 9 currently scores a rather paltry 32 out of 100 in the Acid3 tests, but that "the score will continue to go up". He also claims CSS improvements will deliver features such as rounded corners.
Microsoft hasn't revealed when Internet Explorer 9 is expected to arrive, although it seems almost certain that we won't have to wait the two years it took to move from IE7 to IE8.
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