Right on the heels of the Google Chrome 5 beta release, Microsoft today released their second developer build of IE9, which promises two very important things: that it will be as fast as other browsers, and that – perhaps more importantly – it will make Internet Explorer finally adhere to web standards, in this case HTML5.
Even though IE is quickly losing market share, the continued strong sales of Windows 7, and just frankly the mindshare that IE has among the world’s population, means that if Microsoft can really produce a modern, super fast, standards-based browser, they should be able to recapture a fair amount of market share.
One interesting thing that IE9 seems to include is native HTML5 hardware acceleration, which, since IE9 is going to come pre-installed in so many computers, may give it an advantage over Chrome, Opera and other non-pre-installed browsers (of course, Safari comes pre-installed in all Macs).
The MSDN blog post announcing the build talks a lot about “Same Markup” and the fight over which HTML5 standards body is the “official” one, and if you’re a developer and are interested in that power play, CNET has some good in-depth analysis. That said, average users probably don’t really care about standards – they care about performance and speed, and it seems like from the graph below, that IE9 is catching up (and kudos to Microsoft for showing just how god-awful IE8 is in comparison):