In the past months I’ve had my fair share of time chatting with members of the IE team, over the phone and face-to-face, but I wasn’t able to meet with John Hrvatin, Lead Program Manager on Windows Internet Explorer, as I needed to be in Berlin at TechEd Europe 2010 earlier this month.
After all, there’s a lot to talk about, especially with Microsoft getting closer and closer to finalizing Internet Explorer 9.
IE9 continues to be in Beta at this point in time, and evolving toward the Release Candidate (RC) with Platform Preview 6 and 7 released since mid-September, the last of which offered to early adopters this week.
Still, I did manage to put some questions together and John was kind enough to provide the answers via email.
1. Over 10 million downloads for IE9 Beta already. If I’m not mistaken this is the largest Beta program ever for Microsoft, so congrats on that. Any estimates of how broad Beta and RC adoption is really going to be? What can you tell us about the feedback you’ve been receiving?
JH – The response to the platform previews has exceeded expectations. We’ve received over 13M downloads of IE9 Beta, 13,000 pieces of feedback on Microsoft Connect and over 37M page views of the IE Test Drive site.
The feedback ranges from issues in standards compliance to reports of sites not working properly, some because of IE9 issues and others because a site isn’t ready for IE9. These are exactly what we use the platform previews for and we appreciate this great response from the community.
We feel great about the most recent Platform Preview, IE9 PP7; it’s ready for developers to test their sites and build on the new functionality.
2. With IE9 Platform Preview 6 out, is Platform Preview 7 starting to take shape or will RC be next? (Please bear in mind that these questions were sent to John before IE9 PP7 was launched)
JH – Well, we just put out Platform Preview 7. We’re on the path to RC but we’re always listening to feedback and if there’s something important to get in the hands of developers, we’ll do so.
3. Any new under-the-hood features developers should expect?
JH – With the beta we had completed most of what’s planned for the platform but we’re always listening to feedback and watching progress on standards. That’s what happened with the addition of CSS3 2D Transforms in Platform Preview 6.
4. IE9 PP6 has the best HTML5 Test Suite Conformance Results according to W3C. Although HTML5 and the conformance tests are yet incomplete this does speak about your focus on supporting modern web standards. Will this focus continue as IE9 hits RTW, and beyond? Should we expect IE9.x versions updated in accordance with the evolution of web standards? What’s the plan?
JH – We’re committed to delivering high-quality, interoperable implementations of web standards and that’s not changing. We add features to IE as the standards are ready for developers to depend on them to avoid the problem of balancing updating IE based on changing standards with site compatibility problems.
5. How do you feel that blurring the line between web and desktop apps together with full hardware acceleration separate IE9 from other browsers?
JH – IE9’s approach of using the whole PC is unique among browsers. It makes the web feel native. Rather than limiting web applications to the browser box and a limited use of hardware, IE9 gives web applications first-class treatment as a Windows application.
6. What’s your advice for web developers as IE9 gets closer to finalization? Should they limit in any way the usage of modern web standards in their web projects?
JH – Developers should build on the new features of IE9, from canvas, SVG, and video, to pinned sites. As they update their sites it’s important they use feature detection so they continue to work in older browsers and as browsers update in the future.
7. I already know the answer to this question, but I thought that some of the people that I’ve seen asking it deserve to hear Microsoft’s take on it. Will IE9 be integrated into Windows 7 SP1?
JH – Microsoft is committed to providing its customers with the best browsing experience on Windows. Right now, Windows 7 customers have a great browser with IE8 and a growing number are trying IE9. As we’ve said before, our release timeline is based on quality, and we don’t have more to share at this time.
8. When I talked to Dean [Dean Hachamovitch, Corporate Vice President, Internet Explorer] last time, he said that IE9 will be released once it’s ready. Do you have a more exact deadline you’d like to share for the RTW? How about the RC?
JH – I never contradict what Dean says. In all seriousness, though, we feel good about where the platform is on the way to RC but don’t have any timelines to share.
Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) Platform Preview 6 (PP6) is available for download here.