Internet Explorer 9: The OS and hardware matter

Microsoft has a message to convey with Internet Explorer 9--the browser is only good as the hardware and OS it runs on.

Internet Explorer 9 is officially here. But, IE9 is only compatible with Windows 7 and Windows Vista, so two-thirds of the PCs in the world can't take advantage of it.

It may seem odd, or self-defeating that Microsoft would invest so much effort developing a next generation Web browser that isn't compatible with Windows XP. The legacy Windows OS still enjoys greater than 50 percent market share -- more than Windows 7 and Windows Vista combined. But, Microsoft sees the writing on the wall, and there is a key message with IE9: the operating system and hardware matter as much as the browser itself.

Microsoft could have developed a browser that was an incremental improvement over Internet Explorer 8 just for the sake of developing a new browser, and it could have maintained backward compatibility with Windows XP. However, doing so would greatly restrict what Microsoft is able to accomplish with that browser. At some point you have to cut the cord and move on to embrace the future rather than continuously coddling the past.

The line in the sand drawn by Internet Explorer 9 reminds me of the issues my kids face when it comes to PC gaming. All three of my boys are more or less addicted to Minecraft. Although the graphics make Pitfall on an Atari 2600 look advanced, the engine that drives the Minecraft world, and the sheer size of the virtual Minecraft world make it a demanding game on system resources.

My younger son can play it, but he is forced to disable many of the advanced rendering and graphics options, and still experiences significant lag. When he is playing alone, it doesn't really matter, but when playing online with others the lag can seriously impact gameplay. My older boys have new quad-core PCs with high-end graphics cards and can turn on every maxed out graphics option available and still get seamless, blazing speed from the game.

Minecraft can be played on both the older, legacy hardware, as well as on newer, more powerful hardware, but the game experience is defined by the capabilities of the hardware. That is where Microsoft has taken the browser with Internet Explorer 9 -- the underlying hardware platform and capabilities of the operating system are critical elements of the Web experience.

With Internet Explorer 9, the browser becomes a tightly integrated component of the operating system, and websites become applications that extend the desktop experience to the Web. In order to deliver adequate performance and provide the functionality Microsoft delivers with IE9, you have to have a solid operating system and hardware foundation.

Yes, Microsoft may alienate customers by not providing backwards compatibility with Windows XP. But, when those customers move to Windows 7 -- or eventually Windows 8 -- they will appreciate that Microsoft had the conviction to abandon backward compatibility in favor of a more immersive and integrated Web experience.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftbrowsersinternetoperating systemssoftwareapplicationsInternet ExplorerWindowsWindows 7

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?