Tag: "internet explorer"

Clearing up some confusion over Internet Explorer 9

Crawling across the internets as I have a tendency to do has as usual brought plenty of ignorant comments to my attention. Today about Internet Explorer 9. It always amazes me how willing people are to spout off about something they know nothing or little about. So let's tackle some of them.

I am guessing this is on a PC that has been specially optimised by Microsoft to run its browser content as fast as possible by breaking from web standards?
Another situation where things can already be done on all other browsers perfectly well, but now web developers will be forced to tailor their sites specifically to cater for more Internet Explorer specific quirks.

And you're guessing wrong. Completely wrong. Internet Explorer 9 is just faster. Orders of magnitude faster on graphically intensive websites. How? Because it uses DirectX and the GPU to help out.

Haven't had a chance to look if this uses open web standards but, if it doesn't, it's a return to the good old days of IE6, which mucked around with what everyone else was trying to do on the web and ended with having to hack sites to work in MS browsers.

This is the sort of line trotted out by the Firefox crowd. Web standards as if there is only one gold plated standard that can never change, and to which a browser is either completely compliant or not. Internet Explorer 6 did support web standards that were finished when it was released. Such as HTML4 and CSS1. Internet Explorer was the first browser to fully support CSS1.

The standards that most of the Firefox guys refer to is CSS2.1. Between the releases of IE6 and 7. CSS2 was essentially canned because IE, Netscape, Mozilla and Opera rendered everything so inconsistently with each other.

CSS2.1 was developed to try and sort these problems out but didn't reach candidate recommendation status until 2004, and was quickly moved back to draft to work out a slew of problems with it. It only re-emerged as recommended back in 2007.

So it wasn't that Internet Explorer 6 didn't support standards - it did. It just didn't support CSS2.1, well that's no surprise since CSS2.1 was finalised 6 years after it was released. But by around 2005 the web developer crowd decided they all wanted to use CSS, even for things its really bad at such as controlling layout.

Internet Explorer 7 hit all the main CSS2.1 features that were commonly being used, and Internet Explorer 8 pretty much finished up CSS2.1 support. But even to this day, no browser on the planet supports every feature of CSS2.1, heck they don't even support all the features of HTML4.

Does that mean there aren't any standards compliant browsers? So as you see standards compliance is a sort of funny phrase in the browser world. The proper question to ask would be does it support standard X, and does it support feature Y from standard X, and is standard X even finished yet, or could it change?

Internet Explorer 9's standard support include almost complete support for HTML4, and CSS2.1. And partial support for HTML5 and CSS3. And a bunch of other stuff I don't use like SVG, DOM and all this other stuff. Which is pretty much the same as every other browser out there at the moment.

Neither HTML5 or CSS3 are finished yet, so naturally browsers have to be conservative with implementing features from them, if the standard changed before being released, you'd have one body of developers and browsers rendering things in the old draft way, essentially breaking the web again like back with CSS2. We've seen this trend happening far too much in the technology world lately, what with all the Draft N wireless devices about, all of which could have been rendered obsolete if the final N standard changed. To be completely honest implementing standards which are still under development is just asking for trouble.

Open platforms which allow you to customise and build your own methods of working are the future, and until Microsoft see that this is the way the tide is turning, rather than developing closed systems that require, say, a shiny expensive Office suite to work correctly, they will continue to be shunned by the cool kids.

Office 2010 reads and writes to Office Open XML also known as ISO/IEC 29500 Transitional. This is an international standard that anybody can implement. it also reads and writes OpenDocument also known as ISO/IEC 26300. Another open standard. Office hasn't been using closed, hard to read binary formats in years. Try and keep up.

It's a Windows only browser. Nobody developing websites is going to only include Windows users. There are so many mobile Internet users now. The future of the web is in the palm, so that's smartphones and tablets.

Err, if developers write to the standards they don't need to target IE9. That's the point of standards, remember? It's just the people using it have a better experience.

To make the IE9/Windows 7 features really shine only takes a couple of lines of code. Amazon do it, Twitter are doing it, Facebook and doing it, and I'm doing it too.

Oh and by the way Windows = >90% of my visitors across my websites. Mobile = <5%.

very surprised that your article completely missed the fact that 6 out of 10 windows users are running XP which microsoft in their wisdom have decided cannot use IE9 - if i made the decision to roll out one of my key new products to only 40 percent of my existing customer base, not sure i would make it out of the office alive....!

Correct. IE9 won't work on Windows XP, not out of simply choice. But because Windows XP doesn't support the technologies to do this well. Namely DirectX10 and Direct2D both of which were introduced with Windows Vista.

Anyway can you imagine how bad IE9 would look with the bright fisher-price style UI of Windows XP going around it? Yuck.

""Instead of using 10% of the power on your PC, we're now using 100%," says Leila Martine, who runs the Windows consumer business in the UK."

and what will happen to those of us who run other applications at the same time? will everything else slow down to a crawl?

Don't be daft. She's not talking about using 100% of your CPU, she's talking about making use of the hardware in your machine. It uses less CPU than other browsers because it dumps more of the work onto the GPU, which normally is sat there idling away.

What's IE9's Acid3 score? :) IE7 manages a piddling 12%, IE8 20% (according to the screenshot on Wikipedia), FF 3.6.10 manages 94% and most WebKit browsers 100%...

It's 95, you know it really isn't hard to find out. It won't support the remaining features that Acid3 uses because they're not going to be part of a standard.

Some optimisations for Gamercast on IE9

Over the last couple of weeks I decided to do a few quick changes to the Gamercast website to make it a little bit more swish for Internet Explorer 9, which was released in beta form yesterday. With support for border-radius and box-shadow from CSS3 it was really a no brainer to make use of them (if only it supported multi-column too).

Unlike Chrome and Firefox, Internet Explorer 9 doesn't need to use proprietary extensions to make use of these features. Which is why they're not showing up in those browsers properly, standards aren't standards when you're adding -moz and -webkit before everything.

Gamercast as shown in IE9

Simple but effective.

More importantly however was implementing support for Internet Explorer 9's ability to pin websites to the Start Menu or Taskbar. Gamercast has always had a fairly high-resolution icon, so that wasn't much of a problem. You can drag any website you want to the Taskbar, but out of the box it'll behave like a standard shortcut, bar the "branding" differences that will happen to IE9, as per the screenshot above you can see the back and forward icons have taken colour from the icon, as well as having the website's icon displayed to the left fo them. This is specific to websites being launched from the Start Menu or Taskbar, and doesn't happen to websites browsed to more conventionally.

Adding support for jumplists was however pretty easy, and I'm sure with a bit more time I can do something a lot more fancy with this.

As you can see from the screenshot, the pinned website looks like a native application running on Windows 7, with a bunch of options provided in the jumplist providing quick access to subscription options, Twitter, or jumping straight into some content be they videos on YouTube, or just seeing what the latest news is.

For a basic jumplist all you need to do is place the following in the webpage's header:

<meta name="application-name" content="Name" />
<meta name="msapplication-tooltip" content="Text for tooltip" />
<meta name="msapplication-starturl" content="Default URL"/>
<meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=Example;action-uri=/path/;icon-uri=/icon.ico;"/>

For more fancy stuff such as subheadings you can use a bit of script:

<script type='text/javascript'>
function customJumplist() {
window.external.msSiteModeCreateJumplist('Example heading');
window.external.msSiteModeAddJumpListItem('Example', '/examplepath/', '/icon.ico');
window.external.msSiteModeAddJumpListItem('Example2', '/examplepath/', '/icon.ico');
}
customJumplist();</script>

If you're using IE9 head over to Gamercast and drag it into the Taskbar and check it out for yourself.

Internet Explorer 9 offers the best HTML5 and CSS3 support

A few years ago, the Firefox fanboys were arguing for Internet Explorer to drop its own Trident rendering engine, and adopt Firefox's Gecko engine. More recently people have argued for Internet Explorer to use Webkit. Looking at these results, shouldn't we be asking Firefox and Chrome to use Trident? Well no, but it's the thought that counts.

As we can see above the Platform Preview of Internet Explorer 9 passed all 192 of the tests co-developed with the W3C, no other browsers came close. Other browsers like to claim to be standards compliant, but which standards and what does that really mean? It means not using proprietary tags (like Firefox and Webkit browsers) and not trying to roll out standards before they're finalised (like everyone did with CSS2).

So not only is Internet Explorer 9 really fast thanks to being GPU accelerated, its HTML5 and CSS3 support is shaping up nicely for when the time comes and they are finalised.

Google spreading the security FUD

This week's news of Google transitioning away from Windows to Linux or Mac OS has spread its way across the internet, Google cite security reasons for the move. But is that the only reason behind it? The answer is no.

First up, we're talking about Google; of course they would rather run their own in-house stuff. Primarily Linux, they use that as the basis of Android and Chrome OS, their servers run Linux. It should come to no surprise that Google from a corporate level would prefer to be seen running their own stuff, or if not their own at least not the stuff of their main competitor - Microsoft.

That in my opinion is the main reason behind it. The security excuse they chucked out is FUD pure and simple. Microsoft or Windows aren't at fault for Google being hacked back in January. Google got hacked because their IT administrators allowed a 9 year old browser on their machines, running on a 9 year old operating system. I tell people almost daily, upgrade your browser, and if you can afford it look at moving to Windows 7.

If they had proactive IT administrators, ones who roll out updates within days of their release, or ones who through group policy prevent unpatched machines getting onto the network this would not have happened. Heck IE8 was blasted onto all my machines within hours of release. Testing compatibility with the machines or their own systems could be done during the public beta. For Google, a so-called leading internet company to be using a nine year old browser is embarrassing.

Of course Google were quick to blame Microsoft for the problem, why wouldn't they? The fact it didn't effect Windows Vista or up, or Windows XP with IE7 or up was irrelevant, they needed some FUD to spread. This new story is just part two of their FUD campaign, and they're almost getting a free pass with it.

Google could deal with all their security problems by moving to Windows 7. They might as well even use their own Chrome browser if they want, it is pretty respectable. Moving to Linux is certainly not going to solve their security problems, and giving their workers the option for Mac OS in addition is only going to be a total security disaster with how insecure that is.

Security wise, Mac OS X is a joke, it consistently falls first in any test. Linux is respectable security wise, although it has far more vulnerabilities than Windows, and is more difficult to maintain, and let's not even talk about usability. Microsoft since the release of Windows Vista back 2006/2007 has had a very good track record on security, to the point where exploits on Windows aren't targeting Windows itself anymore, they're targeting Adobe Reader, Flash or QuickTime because exploiting Windows itself is too difficult these days.

For Google to cite security is laughable.

Turning off IE8's InPrivate mode

There are several cases where end-users might want to disable Internet Explorer 8's InPrivate Browsing mode. There isn't an easy way to do this however, but it can be done.

If you're using Windows Vista/7 Business/Professional or up you can use the Group Policy Editor.

To begin, type gpedit.msc in Start Search and press enter. You'll then want to navigate your way to:

Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Internet Explorer > InPrivate

One of the options is for InPrivate Browsing, not to be confused with InPrivate Filtering. From there you can disable or enable it.

Group Policy Editor showing how to disable InPrivate

For those using Windows Vista/7 Home Basic/Premium. You'll need to edit the registry directly, usual disclaimer applies, be careful.

First you'll want to start the registry editor by typing regedit in Start Search and then pressing enter. You'll then want to make your way over to:

HKEY_Local_Machine\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Privacy

Registry Editor showing how to disable InPrivate Browsing

You may need to create the Internet Explorer and the Privacy keys, you can do this by right-clicking the parent key, in this case Microsoft, clicking New and then choosing key. Name it Internet Explorer, then create a key in Internet Explorer the same way called Privacy.

You'll then need to create a new Dword in the Privacy key called EnableInPrivateBrowsing, giving it a value of 1 will enable it, a value of 0 will disable it.

For those not comfortable using the Registry Editor I've provided some registry files to either enable or disable InPrivate Browsing. You'll need to run them and merge them with your registry.

Download Enable InPrivate or Disable InPrivate.

Microsoft backs Web Open Font Format

In some rather good news, it seems Microsoft have backed the Web Open Font Format (WOFF).

Previously Microsoft have supported Embedded OpenType (EOT), which they developed back in the 1990s, and was supported by Internet Explorer 4 onwards, although no other web browsers bothered implementing it. However back in those days adding an extra 100KB download was a heavy price to pay for embedding fonts into a website, and so it wasn't widely used. The release of the Core Web Fonts which Microsoft released for free back in 1996 were quite honestly better than a lot of fonts people were wanting to embed, or were allowed to embed, as the Core Web Fonts were designed for screen readability, and weren't just quick ports of fonts designed for printing.

However in 2009 the Web Open Font Format starting gaining support, like EOT it kept font foundries happy by preventing the font being downloaded to the computer and used in other applications, which had been the main stumbling block for all other font embedding technologies. Mozilla implemented it Firefox 3.6, Opera also have plans to implement it. The three have recently submitted it to the W3C. It isn't known if support will make it in for IE9, but it seems likely in my opinion. There's no date yet for when Opera plan on implementing it, and Chrome, Safari and the WebKit developers haven't decided who, let alone when is actually going to build support for it.

Internet Explorer and Firefox support would I think be enough to roll this thing out. As many of my readers know the second Windows Vista and Office 2007 came out I switched to using the 6 new fonts included with those on my blog and several other websites, because Segoe UI is gorgeous. Having a font embedding technology will really make the web a lot richer, maybe not for body text (frankly Segoe, Calibri, and even Verdana are hard to beat) but for headers the new choices and variety will really shine and best of all, it will cut down the need for images of text which many websites still use for headers, which don't scale well with high DPI screens and aren't easily search engine readable.

Hopefully in a couple of years web designers won't have to worry about what fonts people have on their machines, and we can just use the fonts we want to use and embed them and count on support across all, or at least most browsers.

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