Final Internet Explorer 9 preview released -- tons of fixes, speed-ups, and only 8 weeks until the beta
From the outset, the news is much the same as the previous release: More hardware acceleration! Faster! More standards compliant! But there's some juicy stuff under the hood, too -- read on, if you want technical details. If you want developer-level stuff, check the IE team's new blog post.
First, it looks like audio is now hardware accelerated. There's both a multi-track mixer/sampling demo, and some daft Hamster Dance Revolution game -- both show off strong audio processing abilities. I've never really thought of audio as being important for the Web platform, but I guess if we're going to see increasingly-complex in-the-browser games and applications, having hardware audio access is highly desirable.
Next, there's yet more support and hardware acceleration for SVG animation. Have a go with the dice rolling demo or the aforementioned music games -- pretty damn cool for in-the-browser animation, eh?
Surely it then becomes a matter of end-user experience. If IE9 launches later this year, it might have the edge for a while, but the whole point of open standards like HTML, CSS, JS and SVG is that every browser can support them. I worry that the Internet Explorer team might produce a fantastic browser, but one that simply isn't as usable or functional as either Firefox or Opera. We shall see!