Feedback on the IE9 Platform Preview

April 27th, 2010

Since the release of the IE9 Preview, we’ve gotten feedback on issues ranging from the tests we’ve submitted to the standards body to problems running particular sites. First – THANK YOU for the feedback. We updated the feedback system specifically for this purpose: to get and act on your feedback. This post offers a high level overview of the feedback overall, and a deeper look at a couple of specific issues that many people have reported.

As of April 16th, people have logged 533 issues in Connect. We review each issue, and confirm we can reproduce the problem. If necessary, we ask the person who logged it for more information. We also consolidate duplicate items.

In looking through the confirmed issues, two are particularly interesting: displaying small fonts, and using GMail.  I’ll use these as examples of how we use your feedback. 

Displaying Small Fonts

Several people reported that while fonts in general are smoother and clearer, in some scenarios small fonts look less clear. This type of issue has certain characteristics that make your feedback crucial:

  • Fonts render differently on different graphics hardware.
  • People browse different sites, each with a different selection of font styles, colors, sizes, and background colors, and each impacted differently by Direct2D.

This is a good example of how your feedback directs changes to IE, and helps us scale to the many different combinations of hardware and sites used across the web.  For example, there’s a pattern around some scenarios, like light color fonts on dark backgrounds.

We’re working on improvements in DirectWrite’s ClearType font rasterization. Specifically, in the first Platform Preview, GDI logic was used to select fonts though DirectWrite was used to render them. That creates some text spacing differences. Future updates to the Platform Preview will use DirectWrite throughout and will address this spacing issue. In addition, we are making specific changes to the rendering algorithm when light text is displayed against a dark background.

Using GMail in the Platform Preview

Some users have run into an issue with button layout in Gmail. For some people GMail in the Platform Preview looks like this.

However, others reported that GMail looked like this for them.

The content GMail sends to IE is different in these two cases, and apparently the difference results in GMail not working correctly for some people.  This is an example of when we may come back to you for more information on an issue reported in Connect, and ask about details like the Browser Mode and Document Mode. 

Another GMail issue involves some links on pages not working in the IE9 Preview’s Standards Mode.  Standards Mode is where we build new features like SVG, DOM Events, and border-radius (Marc wrote about this and other modes previously) and thus it currently has incomplete features.  This issue is an example of trying to understand if the site isn’t working properly because of a problem with a new feature or because we haven’t finished implementing the features.  We use different debugging tools to make that determination.  For example, IE9 logs instances of unsupported events so we can quickly see if the issue might simply be a missing event.  Here’s the output when loading GMail.

That tells us not to expect the site to function perfectly since it’s trying to use features that are not yet implemented.

We also have internal debugging tools to turn off the new eventing model entirely.  With the new eventing model disabled, GMail works correctly.  We further debugged and found the events register properly using addEventListener (good), they fire correctly (good), but fail to initiate any action (bad).  We’re still working through this issue.  In the meantime, you can use GMail in the Platform Preview by clicking ‘Debug’ and choosing ‘Force IE8 Document Mode’. 

That’s it for now.  Thanks again for taking the time to use the Platform Preview and sending us your feedback!

John Hrvatin
Program Manager