Internet Explorer 9: An Early Look

Tagged: IE 9, Software
Source: PCMAG - Read the full article
Posted: 4 years 19 weeks ago

Speed and standards. Those two words sum up the goals of Microsoft's just-released Platform Preview of its upcoming Internet Explorer 9 browser. I have to stress that there's a good reason for calling it a "platform preview" rather than a "beta"—the code you can download from ie.microsoft.com/testdrive is not a full browser program by a long shot—there's no Back button, let alone bookmark manager, history feature, toolbars, or any of the other features we've come to expect in modern Web browsers. So this hands on will be shorter than most, simply because there's not much in the way of "user interface" or other goodies to talk about. But there's still plenty to look at in terms of performance and standards support. And, from what we can see so far, it looks like Microsoft is on the right track.

The first thing you notice (beside download links) when you go to the home page for the Internet Explorer 9 Platform Preview are links to speed and standards tests both from Microsoft and from the outside world. That's noteworthy, since the previous versions of the browser weren't known for speed or adherence to standards. So, that's a hopeful sign. And, in fact, the first results of my testing yielded impressive advances over Internet Explorer 8 in both performance and standards support. Most sites load more snappily than in IE8, and in some cases than in IE's competitors. But this engine can't claim top honors in performance and standards support just yet. Chromeand Operastill lead on a popular JavaScript benchmark, and Firefoxsupports more HTML 5, at the moment.

Internet Explorer 9: Speed
Microsoft is attacking performance on a few fronts in Internet Explorer. Not only has Microsoft's team rewritten the JavaScript engine to bring that subsystem's performance in line with that of competing browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera, but they're using a second core in multicore CPUs (pretty much every PC sold today has a multicore CPU) to compile JavaScript in parallel. Granted, other browsers have done a tremendous job with JIT (just-in-time) compilation of JavaScript, but using the second CPU core is a new twist that makes a lot of sense, and it benefits from Microsoft's knowledge of Windows 7's use of multiple cores.

The standard test that tech reviewers use is the WebKit open source project's SunSpider JavaScript benchmark. But a few caveats are in order before anyone takes the results on these tests as the gospel on JavaScript performance. Even some of the most commonly called-upon JavaScript commands are not included in the tests. But they do show something about performance—anyone who's used Chrome knows it's significantly faster than IE7, and its SunSpider number is an order of magnitude faster. All that said, here are my results, using a 2-GHz Athlon AMD 64 X2-based PC with 2GB RAM, with all unnecessary processes shut down via Task Manager. | Read More