Internet Explorer may have beaten Netscape in the First Browser War but IE9 faces an increasingly uphill battle if it hopes to overcome its own legacy and compete with the latest modern browsers.
In recent days, the media has been teaming with reports that Microsoft is finally coming out of its cave and dragging Internet Explorer kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. According to reports millions have already downloaded the latest version of Internet Explorer, dubbed IE9.
Thanks largely to IE6, for the last few years, IE has been considered the joke of the Browser world. After resting on its laurels and relying on the ubiquity of Windows to see them through, IE has fallen from 90% to somewhere above 50%. Meanwhile, the new darlings of the Internet, namely Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are continuing to increase their marketshare month by month.
Now, armed with their new fishdemo and a whole raft of visual and technical improvements, including the long-awaited support for HTML5 and CSS3, IE9 promises to be Microsoft’s answer to falling marketshare; that is, if it ever gets out of Beta.
What does IE9 mean for the rest us?
If you are a designer, developer or one of the growing number of internet users using Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Camino, Safari or any of the growing number of browsers now available … the answer is: not much…yet.
The problem is even if IE9 is finalised and released next year, HTML5 will still be a working draft. Even with the backing of Microsoft and Apple, there’s still no chance HTML5 will replace Flash anytime soon. Eventually, it is hoped, HTML5 will replace the ageing HTML 4.0 and reduce the complexity of XHTML, allowing web designers to more easily incorporate dynamic web 2.0 technologies such as video and sound into their websites.
If history is any guide, even if IE9 becomes the standard browser, designers will still be lumbered with legacy support for IE6, 7 & now IE8 and, unless something convinces IE users to upgrade, this isn’t likely to change, unless IE9 can first overcome its own legacy and win over their own users.
So, here’s to IE9. The King is not dead! Long live the king.