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Speedier IE 9 Platform Preview 7 Released by Microsoft

Microsoft today released the seventh "platform preview" of Internet Explorer 9.

This release is mainly targeted toward Web developers, allowing them to contribute feedback about Microsoft's latest IE 9 engineering efforts. The platform preview lets users compare browser performances based on Microsoft's tests, but it's not a complete browser. Microsoft already released a fully functional IE 9 version when it released the beta back in September.

There are three new tests included with platform preview 7, all of which test for speed. The Galactic test shows the performance of a three-dimensional planetary map. The Sudoku test demonstrates how quickly puzzles get solved. A tag cloud test shows how fast a matrix of word can be formed from a Shakespeare play.

Platform preview 7 reflects Microsoft's efforts on improving the performance of the IE 9 browser based on testing it with "real world websites," according to Dean Hachamovich, vice president of Internet Explorer, in a blog post. While Microsoft now shows the IE 9 platform preview 7 beating out other browsers in terms of JavaScript rendering speeds, including on a WebKit SunSpider JavaScript benchmark test, Hachamovich downplayed the results. He continued Microsoft's message that testing the component speeds of browsers using microbenchmark tests such as SunSpider is "at best not very useful, and at worst misleading."

Microsoft's approach apparently contrasts with its competitors, which continue to cite browser progress through such benchmark results. Google released an updated version of the V8 benchmark suite and this month reported a 15 percent speed improvement for the latest Google Chrome browser beta release on both V8 and SunSpider JavaScript benchmark tests. Mozilla announced this month that the latest version of its Firefox 4 beta is speedier on the Kraken, SunSpider and V8 benchmarks.

An article published by Digitizor contends that Microsoft may have "cheated" on its latest SunSpider benchmark results. The article cites Mozilla engineer Rob Sayre, who got losing results for IE 9 on the SunSpider benchmark tests after slightly tweaking the code, according to the article.

The platform preview releases represent a new approach by Microsoft in getting feedback. While they were originally expected to be released every eight weeks, version 7 arrived after about two-and-a-half weeks after the release of platform preview 6. Hachamovich commented in Microsoft's blog that the platform previews will arrive each time Microsoft's team feels that "meaningful progress" is represented by the build.

Platform preview 7 of IE 9 can be downloaded here (16.2 MB download). The platform preview is designed to run alongside other Internet Explorer versions without conflict.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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