Microsoft Gives Developers Another IE9 Update

At a media event in San Francisco, Microsoft brought along hardware partners Asus, Nvdia, AMD and Dell to show how hardware acceleration is propelling IE9 to stunning new heights of performance. The idea is to enable the browser to take full advantage of the power of today's hardware and multi-core processors.

In a series of side-by-side comparisons with Chrome and Firefox, Microsoft sought to show that IE9 is running circles around its rivals with smoother animation and speedier Web app performance. In recent SunSpider benchmark testing, Microsoft says IE9 PP3 beat both Chrome 4 and the current shipping version of Firefox, completing the data crunching test in 347 milliseconds.

IE9 comes with a new JavaScript engine called Chakra that boosts the speed and performance of IE9. It does this by compiling Javascript in a separate background thread while Windows runs in parallel on seperate core CPU core.

Microsoft also confirmed HTML Canvas tag support in IE9 as well the availability of HTML audio and video tags, and showed its growing adherence to Web standards by noting that IE9's Acid3 score jumped from 68 to 83 since the previous developer preview.

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There's still no word from Microsoft on when it plans to launch the IE9 beta, but the software giant seems quite pleased with the progress it's making. Since launching the first developer preview for IE9 in March, Microsoft had served up more than 2 million downloads, and its Test Drive Website, which is designed to highlight the performance enhancements in IE9, has had more than 16 million views.

Whether IE9's improvements will be enough to halt IE's steadily dwindling market share remains to be seen. In April, IE's market share stood at 60 percent, compared to 24.6 percent for Firefox, 6.7 percent for Chrome, 4.7 percent for Safari and 2.3 percent for Opera.