Despite Internet Explorer 9 barely being out of the paddock, Microsoft is already placing bets on its successor, the imaginatively titled Internet Explorer 10. The browser was announced at MIX 2011, and a bare-bones platform preview (opens in new tab) is available for download, providing a sneak peek at the standards support the finished article will enjoy on release. However, it's unclear when that will be, since Dean Hachamovitch (corporate vice president, Internet Explorer), while speaking at MIX, quashed suggestions Microsoft might match the breakneck release cycles of Firefox and Google Chrome.
Hachamovitch elaborates further about the future of Microsoft's browser in a lengthy post on IEBlog. In terms of technologies, there's lots to like, with support for emerging standards such as CSS3 Multi-column Layout, CSS3 Grid Layout and CSS3 Flexible Box Layout, CSS3 Gradients, ES5 Strict Mode, CSS3 Transitions and CSS3 3D Transforms. However, the post's regular reference to the concept of Internet Explorer offering the "most native HTML5 experience" and an emphasis on "taking advantage of what the operating system offers" irked Microsoft's rivals. Hachamovitch argued that IE10 "continues on IE9's path, directly using what Windows provides and avoiding abstractions, layers, and libraries that slow down your site and your experience". In response, Mozilla's Mike Beltzner posted a bug report ('Support Native HTML5 (opens in new tab)') to Bugzilla, while Opera QA guy Haavard Moen debated whether Microsoft was about to take a 'Windows HTML5' approach or was just full of "marketing horse manure". On his blog (opens in new tab), he decided on the latter, stating: "[Microsoft has] tried to coin the term 'Native HTML5', which basically contradicts the whole idea of the web as non-native and platform-agnostic. […] HTML5 is not native. It is not supposed to be native. It is silly to even attempt to tie HTML5 to a specific platform."
Still, while such spats get web developers terribly excited, they matter little to end users, although it remains to be seen whether Internet Explorer 10 will capture their imaginations either. If Internet Explorer 9's anything to go by, Microsoft still has a big fight on its hands to stop its browser's decline in marketshare. Although 2.4million copies of Internet Explorer were downloaded within its first 24 hours, it was soundly trumped by Firefox 4, which enjoyed nearly seven million downloads.