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Internet Explorer 10 Platform Preview 2 delivers much-improved standards support

29 June 2011, Mike Williams

Internet Explorer has never been renowned for its standards support, and with good reason – the browser has always trailed far behind the competition.

Today’s release of IE10 Platform Preview 2, though, showed that maybe – just maybe – things are beginning to change.

Major additions include support for Web workers, an interesting technology which allows web applications to run complex JavaScripts in the background. And so lengthy tasks won’t have to leave you hanging any more: the application’s interface should still be able to respond to your clicks.

New support for iframe isolation and the HTML5 sandbox will help to harden the security of web applications, closing many security loopholes. The support for CSS3 Positioned Floats allows developers to easily create print-like layouts, where text can flow smoothly around images or other objects. And elsewhere you’ll find support for the HTML5 Parser, HTML5 Forms, channel messaging, Media Query Listeners and more.

Of course if you’re not a web developer then this may not mean a great deal, but fortunately Microsoft has provided a host of useful demos, explaining clearly what each new feature does and why it matters. (Just open Platform Preview 2 and you’ll be taken to the Test Drive site where you can try these out.)

Or alternatively, you might submit the new browser to your favourite HTML5 test site. Visit html5test.com in IE9, for example, and it scores 141 and 5 bonus points. Try the same page in IE10 Platform Preview 2 and it rates a far more impressive 231 and 6 bonus points. (Okay, it’s true, Firefox 5 scores 286 and 9 bonus points, but at least IE is now beginning to compete.)

You probably won’t want to do much else with Platform Preview 2, as it’s still very basic: no toolbar, no address bar, none of the regular menus, not even Back or Forward buttons. And while you can install the program alongside a regular edition of Internet Explorer, it may conflict with IE8, perhaps even causing it to crash (just close Platform Preview 2 to solve the problem).

We had no problems running it with IE9, though, and if you’re at all interested in Microsoft’s expanding web standards support then Internet Explorer Platform Preview 2 is definitely worth a few minutes of your time. Keep in mind, though, that as with the first preview, it’s Windows 7-only (x86 or x64.)

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