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Microsoft cranks out Internet Explorer 10 preview

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MIX 2011 Microsoft has released an Internet Explorer 10 preview, little more than a month after the debut of IE9.

The company posted its IE10 Platform Preview build on Tuesday, calling it "the first step in delivering the next wave of progress in native HTML5 support". It seems likely that an IE10 beta will be delivered in September.

As he demonstrated planned features for IE10 at Microsoft's annual MIX conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, Windows and Windows Live president Steven Sinfosky announced the dates for Microsoft's "next developer conference". It will be held in September in Anaheim, California. "All the things you are hearing about today will be just as impressive in the preview of the things we will show in September," he said.

The conference should also sync well with Windows 8 work going on elsewhere in Sinfosky's division. Microsoft is expected to preview Windows 8 this summer, with a beta expected in September. IE10 is expected to be Windows 8's default browser, with both primed for use on tablets.

At MIX, Sinfosky demonstrated IE10 running on ARM. Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that it will be putting Windows on ARM, breaking its Intel monogamy in an effort to reach more tablets.

Sinfosky didn't give the name of September conference. Typically, Microsoft's big autumnal developer event has been known as the Professional Developers' Conference, and last year, it was at Microsoft's HQ in Redmond, Washington. Either PDC has moved to a new location or the September conference is some other, new event.

The fact that Microsoft is talking about the next version of IE so soon after a new release is unprecedented. Typically, Microsoft wants partners, businesses, and consumers to code for a new browser for a year or so before it begins to even hint at the next version.

But IE continues to lose market share. IEo9 lost the 24-hour download race to Firefox 4.0, with Microsoft now pinning its hopes on broader IE9 uptake via the regular Windows Update service.

Microsoft said it has been working on IE10 for three weeks, meaning its engineers started work about a week after IE9 was released.

The fastest growing browser today is Google's Chrome, and it sounds like Microsoft has decided that the best way to get adoption from the kinds of early adopters mainlining Chrome is more frequent releases. This would see the company respond more nimbly to latest web standards to get those early adopters.

Meanwhile, Mozilla Corporation is speeding up delivery of Firefox. The organization plans four new versions of its browser this year.

In March, when we asked if Microsoft was speeding up the IE release cycle - both of new versions of the browser and of the preview builds used by developers before final product - senior director of IE business and marketing Ryan Gavin denied this was the case.

Speaking at MIX, Dean Hachamovitch – the Microsoft corporate vice president in charge of IE – also said Microsoft is not speeding up IE10's release cycles.

If anything, he said, the company's is pushing out the time between preview releases - going from eight weeks to between eight and 12 weeks. It's not clear how many IE10 preview releases there will be, but the new development roadmap does suggest that much of the heavy lifting on IE10 was already done in IE9.

So, how will IE10 differ to IE9?

The word from Microsoft is that IE10 will drive "native" web applications on the desktop, and it believes the way to achieve this is through web standards boosted by hardware acceleration.

Hachamovitch said IE10 will support emerging web standards not yet finished. This will include web sockets, CSS3 Multi-column Layout, CSS3 Grid Layout, CSS3 Flexible Box Layout, CSS3 Gradients, and ES5 Strict Mode.

Hachamovitch wrote on the IE team blog: "IE10 continues on IE9's path, directly using what Windows provides and avoiding abstractions, layers, and libraries that slow down your site and your experience."

He added: "We're about three weeks into development of IE10, and based on the progress we've made, we want to start engaging the development community now." ®

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