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30 Nov 11 IE10 PP4 Surpasses Safari, Opera In HTML5 Support

Microsoft is now offering the fourth platform preview of IE10 for download and continues to build the browser into an enabling platform to run applications as opposed to simply displaying web pages.

ie logoIn many ways, IE10 is reminiscent of IE4, which Microsoft developed as an integral part of Windows to add and substitute core OS functions, such as running specific types of functions, which were commonly referred to as Dynamic HTML, short DHTML, in the second half of the 1990s. More than a decade later, Microsoft is aiming to turn the browser, once again, into much more than just a tool to display and navigate web pages. In fact, the latest release indicates that navigating the web is just something that IE10 happens to be able to do as well, but it will not be its core feature.

IE10 is evolving into an application platform that runs HTML5 applications well under Windows 8. Virtually all improvements and new features relate to additional HTML5 support. In PP4, Microsoft says that “developers can start working with more site-ready HTML5 technologies” Microsoft is still offering the latest Platform Preview only for Developer Build of Windows 8; the most recent version of IE10 for Windows 7 is PP2, which was released in late June and has fallen behind especially in support of JavaScript and CSS3 features. Developers working toward HTML5 apps for Windows should definitely work with the PP4 under Windows 8.

According to Microsoft, the latest Platform Preview includes:

- Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) for safe use of XMLHttpRequest across domains.
- File API Writer support for blobBuilder allowing manipulation of large binary objects in script in the browser.
- Support for JavaScript typed arrays for efficient storage and manipulation of typed data.
- CSS user-select property to control how end-users select elements in a Web page or application.
- Support for HTML5 video text captioning, including time-code, placement, and captioning file formats.

The new release is accompanied by detailed explanations and examples how they can be used in applications. While HTML5 feature support data suggests that IE10 is still behind Firefox and Chrome, IE10 has passed Opera and Safari. IE10 has made a huge jump in HTML5 support over version 9. When Can I Use indicates that IE10 supports 83% of HTML5 recommended, proposed, and working draft features. IE9 is at 52%, while Firefox is currently at 86%, and Chrome at 89%. Safari is at 77% and Opera at 70%.

Microsoft’s motivation to support HTML5 in IE10 is somewhat different that the intention of, for example, Mozilla. IE10 will be changing its identity in Windows 8 from being a pure-play web browser to a platform that is designed to run HTML5 applications under Windows 8. As HTML5 is a cross-platform capable, those applications are likely to run in desktop, tablet and mobile environments within the Windows 8 ecosystem. As such, HTML5 play a critical role in supporting Windows 8 as the dominant desktop OS, and support its appeal in mobile markets. In such a scenario, it is clear that Microsoft has an interest that IE10 is the fastest HTML5 browser under Windows 8 – and an interest that it primarily supports those HTML5 features that are important to Windows 8 HTML5 apps.

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