April 8, 2010

IE 9 developer preview: 700,000 downloads so far; next update 'on track'

Since Microsoft made available to testers the Internet Explorer (IE) 9 developer preview in mid-March, there have been about 700,000 downloads of it, according to a source close to the situation, who asked not to be identified.

IE General Manager Dean Hachamovitch, with whom I had a brief phone conversation on April 7, would not comment on the exact number of IE 9 downloads to date. But he did confirm there has been positive reception for Microsoft’s next release of IE — a release which will feature HTML 5 support, a new, speedier JavaScript engine and a host of other features.

The first preview was released in U.S. English only, Hachamovitch noted. The top five biggest downloaders (by country) were the U.S., Brazil, India, the U.K. and Germany (in descending order), he said. The majority (50 percent) of testers are hammering on the preview’s speed and performance benchmarks, Hachamovitch said. Another 27 percent have been focusing on the Microsoft-provided graphics-centric tests, he said, while 22 percent have been putting the HTML 5 capabilities of the preview through its paces.

The top three areas of bug reports received by the team so far have been in graphics/SVG, overall compatibility and Trident (the rendering engine)/Cascading Style Sheets, according to Hachamovitch. The team has been working to close as many of these as possible, he said, and has submitted 100 W3C tests related to IE 9 and focused on turning around that feedback quickly, as well.

In March, Microsoft committed to providing a new test build of IE 9 every eight weeks. The team is still on track to reach that goal, with an IE 9 Developer Preview 2 release due out in mid-May. In spite of some testers’ requests for nightly builds, Microsoft isn’t going that route, Hachamovitch said, preferring to focus on delivering regular builds that are solid and installable.

Hachamovitch wouldn’t say much about Preview 2, other than to say it would provide testers with “more of what’s in preview 1,” in terms of speed, performance and benchmark tests. It still won’t include the new IE 9 UI. He said the preview following 2 will “add a few more interesting things,” but wouldn’t get any more specific.

The IE team is still not sharing a delivery timetable for the beta or final version of IE 9. Hachamovitch did squelch rumors I’ve seen and heard today that Microsoft might be working on an interim version of IE 8 that it would deliver before IE 9. He said there is no such release in the works.

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