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Early Look at IE 9: Can Microsoft Recapture Browser Mojo?

Microsoft released a second "platform preview" version of Internet Explorer 9 on Wednesday with faster JavaScript and better Web standards compliance--plus an argument for how future Web technology should develop.

Central to the second IE9 preview is progress toward matching rivals in SunSpider, a speed test of Web-based JavaScript programs, and Acid3, a test of adherence to some Web technologies. On the first, Microsoft improved from 590 to 473 milliseconds; on the second, from 55 to 68 out of a possible 100. But there's more to the story than benchmarks.

The new platform preview, arriving seven weeks after the first version of IE9 that programmers could try, embodies Microsoft's ambition to remake its browser and restore an IE reputation tarnished by years of relative stasis and of indifference to Web standards. During those years, Mozilla's Firefox rose to claim about a quarter of Web usage and Google's Chrome burst on the scene with the mission to make the Web faster. Those organizations, along with Apple and Opera, are also working on a host of new technologies to make the Web into a more powerful foundation for Web applications, and this is where Microsoft's role is evolving.

Microsoft's IE9 progress is notable, given how IE critics long have offered both those tests as evidence of IE's shortcomings. At the same time that Microsoft has come onto the playing field set up by its foes, though, it's also trying to steer the browser debate in its own direction, with two words: same markup.

Read the rest of this article at CNET News.com.

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