Standards advocates hope Microsoft's browser will offer superior standards support and boost innovation
With a developer preview of IE10 now in the wild, developers are starting to consider what the future of Microsoft's browser means to them, and how it could change the Redmond giant's fortunes, potentially even reversing its declining browser market-share.
Web standards champion Stephanie (Sullivan) Rewis spoke to various IE team members at MIX 2011 and told us she expects to see "integration of the parts of the spec they feel have reached a satisfactory level of maturity, to allow them to implement them with confidence". She added that the IE team also expressed a desire to enable developers to "play with and give feedback on new implementations of specs like FlexBox". She said she's looking forward to the addition of these new layout modules, along with transitions and animations, largely due to Internet Explorer's relative dominance: "It's still true that when IE moves forward, the web moves forward more quickly. Many devs I speak to have a fear of implementing things that are not yet in IE."
Other developers agreed with this standpoint, pointing to claims of a resurrection of the browser wars from a web-standards standpoint as being nonsense. The battle this time is a race to embrace, incorporate and implement as much of the specs as possible. "For me, IE10 seals the deal on the promise of standards support. It really shows that Microsoft 'gets it'," argued principal evangelist for Adobe systems Greg Rewis. He also told us he believed Microsoft's 'native HTML5' comments aren't anything to be concerned about: "They refer to work Microsoft is doing to eliminate many of the abstraction layers between the browser and the OS, allowing the browser to parse/render the page more quickly."
With Microsoft more fully embracing standards than ever, the only ‘browser war’ appears to be to win over users by enhancing the usability and feature-set of the software itself. This is what Drew McLellan, director and senior developer of edgeofmyseat.com, hopes Microsoft will immerse itself in as IE10 matures: "At one point in the past, Microsoft were great innovators, implementing features in IE that have now been standardised and implemented widely," he said. He hopes IE10's release schedule—likely to be speedier than IE9's—will lead to Microsoft being first-to-market with new features again; meanwhile, Metakinetic graphic designer Stephen Bull hopes Microsoft will use IE10 to improve existing features: "I'd like to see a better set of web developer tools, akin to Firebug—something that actually works, unlike their current ones," he said.