FINALLY. A version of Internet Explorer that actually supports web standards.

It’s here! It’s here! IE9 is finally here!

I should probably clarify my excitement. Like most developers, I don’t care much for Internet Explorer. Back in the day, IE made some innovations during the first browser war. Since then, IE has become a curse word for web developers. IE’s undeserved dominance has held back web standards for several years, and the countless number of bugs in IE has made cross-browser web development extremely difficult. Microsoft really dropped the ball after IE became the most popular browser on the Internet.

The reason why IE9 is so important is that it gives IE users an upgrade that supports modern web standards. With the release of IE9, we now have across-the-board support for many awesome web technologies:

  • HTML5 canvas (bitmap graphics)
  • SVG (vector graphics)
  • RGBA (alpha transparency) and opacity
  • Multiple backgrounds
  • Border-radius and box-shadow (for making cool buttons and other UI enhancements)
  • CSS fonts
  • Better CSS selectors (i.e., fancier UI and faster web apps)
  • Local storage and session storage (web apps now have an alternative to cookies for storing client-side data)
  • Cross-frame communication (for making smarter multi-window web apps)
  • Hash change events (e.g., better history management for web apps that use Ajax)

IE was late to the party on every single one of these technologies, but I guess it’s better late than never! (By the way, head over to FindMeByIP or CanIUse for a complete list of these web technologies and which browsers support them.)

While IE9 is still way behind the other browsers (it still doesn’t support CSS transforms and transitions, for instance), this is a huge step in the right direction. We’re going to see websites and web apps get more advanced and do more things we thought could only be done with native apps. Now if only we could get all those IE users to upgrade, this evolution would happen a lot faster…

The IE6 Countdown Website

Thankfully, Microsoft is helping with that, too. A few days ago, they launched The Internet Explorer 6 Countdown, an in effort to get people to stop using IE6. It’s sad that IE has been through three versions already, and there are still a lot of people out there using IE6 (many of which are IT corporations who stubbornly keep their employees stuck at old browser versions). IE6 is such a hindrance to modern web standards that there have already been plenty of campaigns out there to get rid of it: IE6 No More, Help Kill IE6, IE6 Must Die: 70+ Sites Unite to Kill IE6). Now with Microsoft joining in on the fight to kill their own browser, it just may be enough to squash the ancient dinosaur once and for all.

This is a great victory for web standards. All the major browsers are coming together to support common technologies, allowing developers to focus less on “Will this work in every browser?” and concentrate more on “How do I make this more freakin’ awesome?”

I for one cannot wait to witness all the awesomeness that’s about to come.

P.S., if you’ve got any friends or coworkers who still stubbornly cling to old versions of IE, here is some ammo (provided by Microsoft) that you can use to get them to upgrade:

Happy browsing. :)