WEB BROWSING ENTHUSIAST Microsoft is claiming that a beta release of its Internet Explorer 9 browser has full HTML5 and CSS3 compliance, despite contradictory results.
A set of results being peddled by the Vole shows that the "platform release" of Internet Explorer 9 (IE 9) passes HTML5 and CSS3 tests with flying colours, leaving its rival browsers, Mozilla's Firefox 3.6.3, Google's Chrome 4.1, Opera 10.52 and Apple's Safari 4.05 in its wake. However another survey is crying foul, suggesting that the results presented by Vole should not be taken at face value.
According to a post on Freeciv, the pristine scorecard shown off by Microsoft has been manipulated to make the firm's increasingly unpopular browser shine above all others. The site claims that in many other tests, IE 9 scores a big fat zero.
Things are not quite as clear as they may seem, with Freeciv's figures showing that in HTML5 and CSS3 tests IE 9, instead of scoring a 100 per cent pass rate as Microsoft reported, failed all its tests. The discrepancy between the two sets of figures couldn't be wider, which leads one to think that the reality is somewhere in between.
All of this comes amid Apple's launch of its own HTML5 showcase, a visible justification of its jihad against Adobe's Flash software. In a bid to embrace open standards, Steve Jobs has made the site visible only through Apple's Safari web browser, which if you believe the figures presented by Microsoft, passes only 38 per cent of its HTML5 tests.
Apple's demonstrations are very slick and there's little doubt that where developers previously turned to Adobe's proprietary Flash software, HTML5 can easily provide as rich an experience.
Those hoping for a lightweight browsing experience will be disappointed. In our tests, the demos weren't exactly sipping system resources, a claim that's been levelled at Flash by Jobs in the past. On a Macbook Pro with a 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, the processor usage of HTML5 varied from 20 to 50 per cent depending on the demo and transition taking place.
There are a number of possible reasons for this worryingly resource intensive performance, ranging from sloppy coding to inefficient browser rendering. After all, HTML5 has yet to be formalised.
Microsoft's fiddling of its figures brings up the ugly side of the race for standards' compliance. Setting the validity of the Vole's figures aside, the fact that it shows the pack being so far behind IE should serve as greater motivation for them to reach full compliance before Microsoft gets there, if it ever completely will.
But this makes a refreshing change from browser wars of yore, with the battle not over meaningless market share figures but rather a race to attain compliance with an open industry standard, which is something that Microsoft truly hates because it's a level playing field, and it's tried hard to run rough-shod over in the past. µ