I’ve just installed the third Internet Explorer Platform Preview (on a virtual machine just in case) and run through a few of the demos. One of the most impressive is Canvas Pad, which demonstrates the HTML 5 Canvas element.
Canvas is particularly interesting, since it provides a surface to which you can draw anything you like. Canvas support was not announced at Mix earlier this year, when IE9 was unveiled, and some of us speculated that Microsoft would omit it in order to preserve the value of its Silverlight plugin – though in doing so it would also help Adobe Flash. Well, apparently the IE9 team decided to risk it. Not only is canvas supported; it is also hardware-accelerated:
Like all of the graphics in IE9, canvas is hardware accelerated through Windows and the GPU. Hardware accelerated canvas support in IE9 illustrates the power of native HTML5 in a browser.
Even so, once you have hardware-accelerated Canvas there will be few occasions when you absolutely have to use Flash, Silverlight or Java.
Microsoft is doing the right thing. Crippling IE for the sake of Silverlight would only push users to other browsers, so it would not achieve its goal.
A full list of what is new in IE9 is here. It is shaping up to be the most interesting new IE since version 4.0 back in 1997.