back to article Microsoft+IE9: Holier than Apple open web convert?

It is a remarkable turnaround. Microsoft, the company that more than any other was responsible for freezing web standards by first killing the browser competition and then failing to update its browser for five years, has come out with a browser that is - at the very least - decent. Internet Explorer 9 combines hardware- …


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  1. Bram

    Industry Standard & MS Strategies

    Quite interesting, This article shows that there are multiple faces to a organisation the size of MS and each has their own ideas about what is the best way of doing things.

    For a while people have slated MS mainly because of its Corporate persona and its business tatics (sales and business over software robutness/quality) it seems now they are more concerned with the bigger picture beyond business and sales figures.

    I don't blame MS for trying to force its standards on the rest of us because if you have ever sat on an international standards board you will understand how tiresome and long winded it is. Its not like the 70s or 80s where two guys in a garage can invent some TLDs and it sticks. Now it can take years and a lot of negotiations which are more politicalthan anything else.

    1. BillG

      Standards Committees

      Bram wrote:

      > I don't blame MS for trying to force its standards on the rest of us because

      > if you have ever sat on an international standards board you will understand

      > how tiresome and long winded it is

      Oh God Yes!

      People tend to think that standards boards are community-based, caring people that want the best for users. NO. These are boring, pedantic people, middle-management people whose bosses told them to promote the technologies their company is already working on. Actually, that's not all true, because many of them are totally clueless. Employees that are actually building something are back at the office building something. The people that show up at standard's meetings aren't building anything. Sometimes they barely understand the technologies discussed.

  2. ThomH

    Standardised comment

    Expect the same from a hundred more: Apple hasn't disabled JIT for anything, as it was never available in the first place. It simply failed to make it work across the entire operating system in a release that had to be ready for a highly visible hardware launch.

    That aside, Microsoft's conversion is difficult to take at face value because of their history, but hard to find fault with. My feeling is that they want to be able to compete away from the desktop, so needed a reasonably modern browser they could port to everywhere. It's also probably safe to assume at this point that they'll retain the desktop for as long as it persists, so that's not so much of a concern. This is Microsoft finally looking to the future.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Don't even blink!

    Microsoft is trying to locate the best spot to stab the competition.

  4. ratfox Silver badge
    Gates Horns


    How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!

    Microsoft is afraid of becoming irrelevant on the web.

    1. Rumcajz
      Gates Horns

      slight edit

      Microsoft is becoming irrelevant on the web.

      Fixed that for you..

  5. NorthernSands

    But where would we be if...

    I do wonder, with fustration, where the web would be now if MS hadn't effectively killed off the use of advanced web standards with it's apalling IE6 browser. I remember writing test sites with, then current, XHTML and CSS and have it work fine in Firefox, Opera and, wierdly, IE5 for the Mac (far better standards support), but failing miserably on IE6. To make advanced sites developers had to plump for IE6, non-standard coding or, to make it cross-platform, JavaScript. Such a pity when [X]HTML + CSS could do the same thing, and more, a whole lot better.

    How can I trust an MS browser now?

    1. frymaster

      Your history is wrong

      ie6 was released in 2001. Firefox wasn't released until 2004. The issue was not the state of IE6, the issue was that a new version of IE wasn't released until 5 years later.

  6. John Bailey

    Microsoft are not stupid.

    Having all of nothing is a pointless goal, which would happen if MS decided to keep their incompatible by design shenanigans up with their browser. Not much use being the defacto standard, if it is only among a minority.

    A few years of standards compliance sounds pretty good. And hopefully, they will not recover the kind of market share that enabled the m to come close to breaking the internet.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    huh .. IE9

    IE9 may be better than it's ancestor version but still it's platform dependent. That's big problem for people like me who use multiple platforms.

    1. Ilgaz

      as long as it is sort of standards compliant

      I believe IE became so tied to Windows technology that ms would have to do crazy things to support other operating systems. On the other hand, apple did a damn clever job keeping webkit platform independent from start. KDE , where it was born is platform independent anyway as of 4.x series.

      Anyway, what we should care about is, vista+ has html5 capable browser.

  8. Mikel

    Repeat after me

    Embrace. Extend. Extinguish.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge


      "HTML 5M" ahoy. M for Microsoft.

      Yes, they brilliantly locked in customers who develop in-house web sites into Internet Explorer 6 - so successfully that those customers aren't able to use Internet Explorer 7 or 8, or at least not without so much research and tweaking of newer IE's compatibility settings that they don't see a business case for doing it. Until they get hacked and annihilated by giggling Chinese dope fiends.

      And by golly, if Microsoft can do it again, they will.

      1. Robin

        re: Precisely

        "HTML 5 Millennium Edition" ?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One more time

    Apple does not 'disable' support for the new Nitro engine, it has only given Safari access to this new feature, due to safety reasons (code execution in memory). You seen, springboard web apps make user of a different engine than Safari. Once again, this isn't some nefarious plan from Apple to lock up the interwebs. Get your facts straight before you start spouting such nonsense.

  10. Sentient


    "it would make more sense if it built HTML applications that would run across multiple devices."

    No it doesn't. If you're creating LOB apps in a MS corporate environment SL is still the way to go. At the company where I work we see that HTML applications take on average 20% more resources than SL applications.

    "future investment would be focused on integrating Windows applications with web services."

    Which is what most smartphones, tablets seem to be heading these days. Isn't it ironic?

    IMO Strong companies do both and choose the tech best suited for the job, not the one that is being hyped.

  11. Wibble

    But where's the vision?

    Seems like Microsoft's biggest enemy is itself. Sort of reminiscent of British Leyland with it's competing divisions.

    Still, credit where it's due; it's a big step out of proprietary 'standards' into open standards. Especially as it effectively means the end of the desktop as we know it: Android, iOS, ChromeOS, WebOS, etc, etc.

    If only there was a way to magically clean up Microsoft's mess of formerly 'great' browsers. We'll be cleaning up that legacy for years - good news for web developers who earn a good living from polishing the Microsoft turd.

  12. amehaye
    Gates Horns

    Embrace, Extend, Extinguish

    We are merely at the first stage. With the abundance of mobile devices not running Windows, and the rise of standards-supporting browsers, Microsoft had no choice but to adhere to standards.

    They do not do that out of the love of consumers. Rather they hope to re-capture the crowds, then slowly and subtly lock them in again.

    That said, as long as MS remains a niche mobile platform, they would find it hard to move to the second stage, as web sites have to be compatible on all platforms. Of course, if Apple continues to cripple its mobile browser, compatibility might not matter that much. Then again, with the rise of Android, it will be even more difficult for MS to 'Extend'.

    It would be nice to have a devil Jobs here as well, but there is place here for only one icon.

    1. RichyS

      Apple FUD

      How exactly has Apple crippled its mobile browser?

      AFAIK it's the most standards compliant mobile browser out there. That's a funny sort of crippling.

  13. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Worst ever browser for me :-/

    There's no option to disable ClearType so I can't use it. Guess I'll have to stick to Chrome.

    1. RichyS

      Re. ClearType

      What? Sub-pixel anti-aliasing is about the best thing MS gave us with Win XP. If not the best thing they gave us ever!

      Are you still running a CRT or LCD over VGA cable? Otherwise, how can you prefer not having ClearType enabled?

    2. ThomH

      I don't think that's ClearType

      ClearType still aggressively hints, giving that uniquely Microsoft look of primarily spindly horizontals and verticals, with some 45 degree diagonals. The way they display fonts normally is so far from how they print that they actually commissioned special fonts to solve the problem (see, e.g. Calibri, which is the default in Word as of Office 2007).

      For the new browser they appear to have taken a step towards matching the way a font appears on paper, on signs, on computers from other manufacturers, etc, and away from avoiding all subpixel considerations at all costs. Which I think is the direction WPF went in quite a while ago, and is something they've received a lot of praise for in Windows Phone 7.

      I'm a fan, but then I normally use one of those computers from another manufacturer and I think a lot of it is just what you're accustomed to expect.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Don't blame me..

        ..blame my brain :)

        I know a lot of people seem to like this sub pixel addressing but my brain just can't handle it. It makes me nauseous and faint. Feels a lot like motion sickness in fact and I'm not the only one.

        Read some of the comments here:

        What bugs me is why does everyone who likes it refuse to acknowledge the possibility that others don't? Some of the reactions are just weird. People like me ask for an option to disable it and someone responds as if we're asking for the feature to be removed. People have been telling MS about this ever since they started down that route and as time goes on all that happens is that MS makes it harder and harder to avoid it. Maybe I'm weird. Maybe it's a disability - but if it's a disability then why can't MS treat us the way they treat other disabled users and let us turn the feature off.

        Just why is it MS are so damned intent on forcing this down our throats?

        1. ThomH


          I did just say that I think it's a matter of what you're accustomed to. So that's at least one person who likes anti-aliased, loosely or not-at-all hinted subpixel rendering acknowledging that others may not.

          I think the wider attitude comes from the historical perspective. The unique corner that Microsoft have boxed themselves into on font hinting was a result of wanting to make vector fonts look like bitmap fonts at low pixel densities. So it's a historical anomaly. Pixel densities are much higher now than they were when Microsoft made that decision and are getting higher every year. So in a few years, everyone's going to be happy anyway — when you can no longer see the anti-aliasing you'll be happy, right?

          Supporting aggressive hinting has the technical problem of introducing unpredictable text lengths. For example, the letter 'n' might end up being 4.5 pixels on your screen. If you aggressively hint that, it turns into either 4 or 5 pixels. If you print, say, 80 of them (ie, a normal sort of length of text), you've introduced 40 pixels error, one way or the other. But that's only on your screen; if the option is present and somebody else has set to respect font shapes then they don't get the 40 pixels error. And if the GUI is scaleable and someone else has aggressive font hinting on, they can get anything from 0 to 40 pixels of error.

          As a result of that, it becomes very difficult to lay out your GUI in a designed fashion, using the same concepts and tools as designers like to use for the page or within Photoshop or anywhere else. So designers don't like it and tend to produce worse results. And in an increasingly design-oriented industry, you need to keep your designers happy.

          Therefore, the real logic is push subpixel now, significantly ease design tasks (especially when specifying new layout technologies, like WPF and I'll wager Direct2D), in a few years everyone will be happy in any case. To extend that to alleging that anybody who likes aggressive hinting is obviously a kook is obviously an unsafe way to proceed, but I think it explains why companies like Microsoft can't just offer the option, and why the default position is to find some reason not to offer support.

          1. AndrueC Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            That explains it..

            Well thanks for your support and sympathy anyway :)

            I have tried to get used to ClearType on several occasions but with no success. It isn't that I don't like it - the problem is that I can't handle it. Some people say you get used to it - well I've tried that. Typically after an hour I'm feeling so sick I have to close my eyes and rest. Well actually I do also not like it. I prefer my fonts to be solid. CT imbues them with rainbow hazing around the edge and/or uneven levels of darkness. It looks like someone has printed the text using a knackered printer ribbon :-/

            Still - some time in the future when everything is sub-pixel addressed I can sit in my computer-less house happy in the knowledge that people still able to use computers are enjoying the best designed applications :D

          2. Hayden Clark

            So I have to suffer to make the coding easier?

            I suppose I shouldn't be surprised - it's the way Windows has been going for a while! :-)

            I turn off ClearType, or any other kind of aliasing, as it makes the text look blurry. If I have it enabled, I realise after a while that I am straining to bring blurred text into focus, which results in sore eyes or a headache. So I won't be using IE9 any time soon!

            Oh - and if you're trying to create pixel-perfect layouts by manually calculating rendered string widths, you're doing it wrong. Since forever, you're supposed to measure your string using the current DC (GetTextExtentPoint32 I think is the one here).

      2. The Alpha Klutz

        "Are you still running a CRT or LCD over VGA cable?"

        Some people don't have a choice, at work.

        I often have to use monitors that were far from ideal when they were built 10 years ago. ClearType is the icing on the shit sandwich. It makes text look utterly miserable (on crap monitors).

        1. frymaster

          uh... am I missing something here?

          what happens if you just turn off cleartype? does it turn it off for the OS but keep it on for IE9?

          1. AndrueC Silver badge

            Good question

            >what happens if you just turn off cleartype? does it turn it off for the OS but keep it on for IE9?

            Apparently IE9 switches to grey scale sub-pixel addressing instead of using colours. It isn't really 'ClearType' but it's the same technology. It still makes me feel sick. I have ClearType disabled and I've tried toggling 'Smooth Edges of Screen Fonts' in Control Panel but nothing seems to stop IE9 using sub-pixel addressing. IE8 has it's own ClearType option but IE9 doesn't have that so we're stuck.

            FWIW the same thing is almost true of MS Office 2k7 but at least it has a hidden registry setting you can use. You have to create the value 'RespectSystemFontSmooth'. A hidden setting that begs MSO to obey system settings. Even then the fonts look crap because they are optimised for ClearType. Further hacks to hide Segoa font can eventually produce an MSO installation with crisp precise fonts but it's a lot of hassle and some of Outlook's panels just don't render properly with the alternate fonts.

  14. Kifoth
    Thumb Up

    "IE9 has a download manager"

    Great! Installing Firefox/Chrome on a new Windows install has never been easier :)

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Breaks one of my websites.

    On a site that works in IE6, IE7, IE8, Firefox, Chrome, Konqueror and Opera.

  16. Adam Trickett

    No option

    When MS was dominant they could sit on IE and do nothing - that is the point of extinguish. They held back the Internet for years but what did they care?

    Now they have serious competition that has not only run away with the Internet but is now challenging their core business so they have to compete. The first stage is "Embrace" without a modern compatible browser they can hardly move on to "Extend" then "Extinguish".

    The good news is that Windows Vista/7 users get a decent browser from Microsoft if they want to use it. The bad news is it's not available for XP users, but as people upgrade XP to 7 it will slowly become available to most Windows users with time.

    The sooner that IE 6/7 go away and die the better. While I personally don't use IE, except for testing, the Internet will be a better place with IE9, Chrome, FF and Opera instead of IE6...

  17. Anonymous Coward

    insert free advert for IE+9

    > Overall IE9 is good enough that using a third-party web browser is no longer an obvious choice.

    No mention of the malware infestation affecting the Windows platform ..

    > The interesting question is "why"? Was Microsoft simply so annoyed by the steadily shrinking market share for IE that it decided to make its best effort to reverse the trend?

    Not so much annoyed as in a desperate panic as they watch the market drift towards the Apple iPAD, iPhone and Google, Android, Chrome and other online Mobile devices.

    > Is it a strategic move to subtly promote Bing search, Bing Maps, and Microsoft's other internet services?


    > Or has Microsoft experienced a sudden conversion to the web standard religion?


    1. Ben Holmes


      Oh, what the heck, I'm having a crap Monday. Lets feed the troll.

      >> No mention of the malware infestation affecting the Windows platform ..

      Er..what? I'm all for Microsoft bashing when and where it's due, but this article has nothing to do with malware. It has everything to do with MS looking at what's best for it - and make no mistake, that's all this is. However, as they seem to have come out with a half-decent browser as a result, then I'm not going to complain. Besides, if your particular 'Windows platform' is riddled with malware, then you have only yourself to blame. And don't give me that crap about your favourite penguin being the universal panacea for all security-related problems on Windows. It just isn't.

      >> Not so much annoyed as in a desperate panic as they watch the market drift towards the

      >> Apple iPAD, iPhone and Google, Android, Chrome and other online Mobile devices.

      Hardly. I don't see a corporation in 'desperate panic' as you so succinctly put it. I see a corporation who realised a while back that their current methodology wasn't winning any friends in the browser world, and took a sensible business decision to do something about it, in an incremental fashion, beginning with IE7.

      >> Is it a strategic move to subtly promote Bing search, Bing Maps, and Microsoft's other internet >> services?


      And thereby you contradict your own statement about 'blind panic'. You can't have strategy and panic. The two are mutually exclusive.

      >> Or has Microsoft experienced a sudden conversion to the web standard religion?


      Partially correct. I'll give you that one. It has been a gradual conversion, over the last few iterations of browser development, as opposed to 'sudden'.

  18. unicomp21

    FireFox 4 just released!!! IE9 is toast!

    Forget about IE9, it's dead without WebGL. Download FireFox 4, and checkout some demos!

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft competed strenuously with Netscape?

    > .. Microsoft considered HTML incapable of delivering the rich experience users demanded, and that future investment would be focused on integrating Windows applications with web services.

    > A side-effect, which Microsoft did not mention, would be to increase the Windows lock-in ..

    Hardly a side effect, Microsofts integration of the browser into the desktop was designed solely with killing Netscape in mind. As such it was a total sucess. The main side effect being to dilute security on the desktop that directly led to the current malware/phishing epedemic. As in clicking on a url or opening an email attachment can trigger an event leading to the total compromise of the system.

    "PSD needs to get serious about cloning Netscape. We must have a plan to clone all the features they have today, plus new ones they will add between now and our next release. We have to make this our only top priority and put our top people on the job. In addition to our planned Win32.OLE work, we have to get serious about extending and owning HTLM as a format", Ben SlivkaNov 1995

    "with DocObject, we can lock them [Netscape] deeply into OLE for some time, while forcing them to ship a richer browser on Windows than on the mac", thomasre June 1995

    "After the billg Internet review today, here are my thoughts on the priorities for PSD and the rest of Microsoft .. I think we should have to do even more cloning (esp. LiveScript) of Netscape, and we have to focus on Win95 - not Nashville .. 1. Clone their client technology early and often (full embrace strategy) 2. Add key Microsoft technologies to their client and target our tools at that client (full extend strategy), Ben Slivka 1995"

    "we will brainstorm how to get a grab", Steve Ballmer, Dec 1996


    And Finally, lets close with a little humor ...

    1994: Mosaic Netscape released ..

    1996: Bill Gates 'welcomes` Netscape into the Industry ..

    "As Netscape comes into the industry, we hope they adopt a PC mentality [of documenting changes to standards]," Gates said.

    "They've been making lots of changes to JavaScript. We think they should document that."

  20. Ian Davies

    Good article...

    ...right up to the point where you entered the land of FUD-fairies and make believe by perpetuating the lie that Apple has somehow kludged their mobile browser by removing this, crippling that or throttling the other.

    The JIT compiler (that was never there in the first place) requires pages of memory to executable, which Apple chooses not to allow for security reasons. They've made the reasonable decision to trust their own code and make an exception for Mobile Safari.

    The upcoming WebKit2 which supports a split-process framework will most likely enable JIT for all apps and controls that utilise web views.

    Nothing has got slower. Just not everything has got faster (yet).

  21. Torquemada

    MS didn't 'kill the browser competition'....

    ...Netscape did by deciding to charge $30/ £30 a pop for what was previously free.

    In a similar vein to Apple having the option of crushing Windows back in 1990 - 1994, but decided to go for the $$$ instead (and still are, one could argue).

    The two above facts seem to be forgotten on a regular basis, by journalists as much as anyone.

    And MS introduced several options that, previous to IE6, simply weren't available - Outlook Web Access seemed quite advanced in 2003 because (for example) it could notify that mail had arrived without having to refresh the screen. No-one was bleating about standards back then.

    MS have a history of trying to adopt standards to their purposes, or inventing new ones while the rest of the industry squabbles (like they still are about network speed auto-negotiation), so none of this article is really news....but then, there would be no article :-)

  22. Lewis Mettler

    if you have

    If you have a copy of IE, your opinion simply does not matter.

    Consumers must have the option NOT to purchase key technologies. Particularly user applications such as a web browser.

    Just because you want to wear socks and shoes is absolutely no reason you should have to buy a particular brand.

    A lot of idiots run around claiming that since you need a browser (or they think everyone does) then it is okay to be forced to purchase IE. That does not apply to any food they eat or clothing they wear. It only applies to the products they are selling.

    Consumers always want the choice to leave it at the store. No matter what "it" is.

    If you give consumers the choice, the whole industry will be a much better place.

    It remains illegal to commingle the IE code with the OS. That is the law in the US. It is also illegal to bundled the browser application with the OS. But, that issue was not litigated.

    Both illegal acts directly harm consumers by taking away their right to decide what technology they buy and use.

    So, it remains, if you have a copy of IE, your opinion simply does not matter. Certainly not to Microsoft. They will continue to force the sale of key products regardless.

    1. Tom Maddox Silver badge

      I'm with stupid

      Do you just keep that post in a document editor ready to auto-post whenever IE is mentioned? I think most human beings would consider an operating system *without* a browser to be worthless, so it would be profoundly stupid of Microsoft to ship Windows that way. They could include someone else's browser; for example, I hear there's a crappy Firefox knockoff that comes out of Norway (sorry, that was gratuitous, but I just couldn't help myself), but that leads to other issues of bundling and favoritism, and of course, there's the issue of the browser code being outside of Microsoft's control.

      It is not illegal to bundle the browser with the OS, otherwise Apple and Ubuntu would also be in dire straits. Commingling the code is not illegal either; the developer of an OS can do whatever they want with the code. What *is* illegal is using that technology combined with monopoly power to squeeze out competition. At this point, there is sufficient competition in the browser space that arguing that Microsoft has a *browser* monopoly would be difficult. In any case, you can 1) remove IE and 2) install any other browser, which was not the case when the original anti-trust case went to trial.

      I feel like I should address the "directly harm" bit as well, but I'm struggling to come up with an argument that doesn't involve insulting you. Suffice to say that you have not demonstrated harm in your post.

  23. Marcus 3

    Microsoft - Making sure it's not getting out there

    Just tried to update my IE to 9. Fail. I have Windows 7, patched and SP'd bang up to date and it won't install. Microsoft are aware of the problem. Go here:

    You have to look for this as the URL the install program has does not work. You then see that there's some fudging to do to get it to work but in Microsoft's own words:

    "Warning This workaround may make a computer or a network more vulnerable to attack by malicious users or by malicious software such as viruses. We do not recommend this workaround but are providing this information so that you can implement this workaround at your own discretion. Use this workaround at your own risk."

    Brilliant. I cannot be fagged to try to get it to work. Everyone else - Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera - they just work.

    IE is a total waste of coders time to make. Don't even get me started on how Microsoft love wasting companies time with strategies they drop a few years or months later.

    1. Ilgaz

      No hurries

      If I were you, I would ignore this release and wait for some kind of KB install from ms which isn't a hotfix.

      Both MS and Mozilla are hurrying with the new major version anyway, wait for 9.1 and 4.1 respectively.

  24. Psymon

    Interesting points here

    Only a handful of trolls out today, which is quite refreshing.


    If I remember correctly, it was the other way round? Netscape BEGAN by selling their product for £30.

    Microsoft entered the market, also punting their product for roughly the same price. Unfortunately for MS, theirs was vastly inferior to Netscapes, and didn't sell. Unfortunately for Netscape, MS had extremely deep pockets, and began giving it away for free, then going on to bundling it with the OS.

    It was at this point, Netscape began giving away their product, in a last desperate bid to stay alive. Since Netscape had no other means of revenue generation, it didn't take long for them to go under. This was long before the large-scale "free software" movement. A movement that has only recently become possible due to the many alternate revenue generation means made available by the now, well established internet.


    I'm certainly very interested in FF4 (especially the tab management system), but IMHO the 3D aspect is going to be a mere gimmick for some time yet. Don't forget that 3D on the web has been tried many, many times before.

    Not just VRML, but 3D content has also been available through Flash and Shockwave for many years (albeit Flash used extra plugins) and has been used quite successfully for a great many web-based games, but whole websites?

    Also, the OpenGL standard has been languishing for some time now. Remember that it's the games industry which has pushed 3D standards to their now dizzying heights, and like it or lump it, the vehicle of choice for this progress has been DirectX for a long time now.

    MS has worked very closely with the games and graphics industries over the years, folding new innovations into DX. Whether you approve of their methods, the end result is the undeniably powerful DX11.

    GL is a poor showing by comparrison, and because of this, the vast majority of consumer level cards pay little more than a token guesture for hardware support.

    1. ThomH


      I think you're wrong about OpenGL, and WebGL.

      WebGL does something quite different from previous attempts at 3d in the browser: it exposes a GPU-oriented, programmable API to Javascript, allowing content to be rendered to a suitable canvas. If you look at everything else, back to VRML, they tend to be about defining a 3d data file format that the browser or plug-in knows how to draw and adding hooks to control the parameters affecting rendering into ActionScript or whatever.

      The industry remains unable to standardise on a 3d file format for a variety of technical reasons. So standards usually fail to gain momentum. The industry standardised a long time ago on the best ways to talk to a GPU, and building it on top of canvas means they're extending something that has already found traction rather than trying to do a completely new thing.

      It is also false to argue that OpenGL has been languishing for some time. DirectX is more popular because driver support is better on Windows (partly because drivers are easier to write; it's only very recently that they've been willing to deprecate anything in the OpenGL spec) and it makes it trivial to port to Xbox. It's purely a money decision. Both APIs fully expose everything the GPU can do and the GPU is fully programmable, so they're basically equivalent.

      WebGL actually descends from GL ES 2.0, which cuts out all of the fixed pipeline legacy stuff, explicitly to be simple, straightforward and modern. GL ES 2.0 is a total of 109 function calls, using which you can upload any data you want to the GPU and supply vertex and fragment shaders to do whatever you want. As it's for embedded systems (where nobody supports them), there are no geometry shaders yet. Go to Google Images and check out Epic Citadel and/or Infinity Blade to see what real products are being released based upon it.

      To be honest though, graphics APIs as the route to hardware are probably just about done. It'll be GPGPU where major advances are made, which means OpenCL (not part of OpenGL, but designed to work well with it) on the Kronos side, DirectCompute (part of DirectX) on the Microsoft side.

  25. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    IE versus Silverlight, FIGHT!

    @frymaster, yes firefox came out years later, but mozilla was out almost simultaneously with IE6. The main impetus for firefox was originally to speed up the menus and buttons, by using native controls (i.e. windows ones in windows, gtk or qt ones in linux, macos ones on mac) instead of them also being rendered by the html engine in mozilla.

    Regarding the IE teams lack of love for Silveright -- this is a natural consequence of Microsoft corporate culture. They will have teams bitterly competing with each other; and the Silverlight and IE teams are both wanting to use their technologies for app development, so they have no love for each other.

    On a side note -- Silverlight, a "cross platform" environment that only ACTUALLY works right on one platform? FAIL! Mac version is not feature complete.. windows version keeps dropping support for older versions of windows with every release. And Moonlight, what a joke! Last I tried it, it'd run *some* complicated demos, while failing on others that were as simple as printing some text in a box, or doing a rotating cube (not even using OpenGL or DirectX or whatever the crap Silverlight uses, just using line draw commands.) Basically not reliable enough to actually be useable.

  26. Christian Berger

    The usual sign of desperation

    Microsoft has recognized that while Windows/Office still contributes largely to it's profits, this will probably change in the mid-term future.

    That's why Microsoft desperately tries to get into other markets. For example that's why the XBox exists, or why they have kept Windows XP alive for so long, and made Windows Vista Starter.

    And that's also the reason why Microsoft so desperately tries to copy the iPhone.

    Microsoft now rightly sees the World Wide Web as something which will become important in the future. That's why they have converted MSN from an online service with dedicated dial-in POPs to a web-based service. That is also why they need to deliver a proper browser as for many people accessing the web has become way more important than executing Microsoft Office. Without a proper browser, people might just switch to other operating systems.

  27. PaulMacnicol
    Thumb Down

    "Decent"?!!?! You have got to be joking!

    OMG have you even used it yet?! This is surely the WORST BROWSER EVER!

    Just try and access your citrix terminal servers with it, and see what it says....

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