IE9 and the future of the web

Well… IE9 is finally here. For those that have not seen the promotional videos or downloaded the browser, you can find out more at beautyoftheweb.

I suppose the key question is, “how will this browser affect the web“?

There seems to be a fair amount of focus on two primary concerns:

Concern 1: no support for XP

The IE9 team has made a deliberate decision not to support XP with IE9 – primarily around hardware acceleration and directx. This means that users have to be on Windows 7 in order to use the new browser. The biggest concern here is that many companies and organisations are still running Windows XP – and they are probably not likely to change any time soon.

This has been explored in some detail via articles like IE9 a ‘non-event’ for most businesses

But, how much of an impact will the lack of support for XP have on the uptake of IE9? When IE7 was released, we saw some reluctance to take up this browser from aspects of the community – mainly large organisations and companies who had systems heavily tied to IE6.

When IE8 came around, the uptake seemed much quicker. While IE7 usage dropped significantly, the impact on IE6 was much greater – as you can see here. worldwide, IE6 is now at 12% worldwide – around 5% for many of my clients.

Will we see the same uptake with IE9? My main concern is that the XP issue will mean that many people will not, or cannot upgrade to IE9, and that is bad news for web designers and developers!

Concern 2: Lack of full CSS3 support

There has also been criticism from some web developers for IE9’s lack of support for key aspects of CSS3 – such as Gradients and text-shadow.

IE9’s HTML5/CSS3 support is outlined at the Internet Explorer 9 Guide for Developers. As you can see, IE9 scores 95/100 in the Acid3 test, and 574/574 in the CSS3 selector test.

Where do I stand?

I’ve been building commercial websites since 1995. In those days, the key browsers were Netscape 1.2 and IE2. Since then, a large percentage of my time has been about dealing with browser differences. More recently, these battles have taken place in the mobile space as well.

To varying degrees, these “battles” have always been part of our landscape.

However, I think we are on the cusp of a new era. We are about to have new releases of IE, Firefox, Chrome and Opera to explore.

While IE9’s CSS3 support is not perfect, and there are definitely going to be bugs we uncover as this browser gets pushed to the limits, it is still a staggering improvement over previous versions of IE.

I think web designers and developers should be very excited by IE9. With good support for HTML5 and reasonably good support for CSS3, we can suddenly start moving forward into the future!

Where do you stand?