IE9 Beta Getting High(er than Expected) Marks
It's kind of hard to avoid all the coverage of IE9 this week. There are some rather in-depth reviews and analyses out there that take it apart and try to outdo each other with intricate detail in coverage. I don't care so much about that. I'm interested in the general mood of the developers who will build for it, and the general user who just wants to surf. And that will take time to suss out.
If you are looking for a review of the browser as a whole, including its new interface (Google Chrome, anyone?) and features for users, then you should spend some time reading through ZDNet's article, Internet Explorer 9 beta review: Microsoft reinvents the browser. Take some time to scroll through the screen shot gallery, too (A closer look at the Internet Explorer 9 beta). You'll see an interface that is borrowing from Chrome for messages, Firefox for download management, and even Windows for its ability to turn web site bookmarks into desktop icons reminiscent of applications. In short, there's a lot that's familiar.
IE9 has the benefit of coming to the market well after other browsers have been wrangling with how to deal with CSS3 and the incomplete HTML5 spec. IE9 only scores 96/300 at HTML5test.com, though that's up from 37/300 for IE8. Chrome 5 scores 217/200, Firefox 3.6 scores 139/300, and Opera 10.6 scores 159/300. IE9 does score an impressive 92/100 (or 95/100 if you believe the screen shot on the IE9 Test Drive site) on the Acid3 test (IE8 got a 20/100). Read up on more of the results at SitePoint, The IE9 Beta Review.
During An Event Apart in DC this week, there were multiple unsolicted (and seemingly surprised) tweets from the crowd that the audience was applauding IE9's CSS support. That's a huge leap forward from how IE has been treated in the past, and is certainly a better reception than most had expected.
That's not to say that Microsoft is off the hook yet. People will be paying close attention to every aspect of the browser and its progress as it nears a final release. In Microsoft, Please Stop This Madness, Kroc Camen takes IE9 to task for the HTML it generates for a jump list. While it's not a big issue, it's the kind of thing people will be trying to find. Given that this is only a beta, at least there's a chance these things can be cleaned up before final release.