With Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft showed Wednesday it's trying to retake the browser initiative.
IE remains the Net's dominant browser. But perversely, it became something of a technology underdog after Microsoft vanquished Netscape in the browser wars of the 1990s and scaled back its browser effort.
That left an opportunity for rivals to blossom--most notably Firefox, which now is used by a quarter of Web surfers, but also Apple's Safari, which now runs on Windows as well as Mac OS X, and Google's Chrome, which aims to make the Web faster and a better foundation for applications.
Microsoft has been pouring resources back into the IE effort, though, and at its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles, some fruits of that labor were on display. In particular, Windows unit president Steven Sinofsky showed off IE 9's new hardware-accelerated text and graphics.
The acceleration feature takes advantage of hitherto untapped computing power in a way that's more useful than other browser-boosting technology--Google's Native Client to directly employ PC's processor and Mozilla's WebGL for accelerated 3D graphics, for example--according to Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of Internet Explorer.
"This is a direct improvement to everybody's usage of the Web on a daily basis," Hachamovitch said in an interview after Sinofsky's speech. "Web developers are doing what they did before, only now they can tap directly into a PC's graphics hardware to make their text work better and graphics work better." … Read more