Today in San Francisco, Microsoft’s IE team launched Internet Explorer Platform Preview 3, the latest edition of the developer preview that includes a number of major new features. The biggest additions to the Platform Preview are support for HTML Canvas, audio/video tags, and performance boosts that largely focus on IE9′s hardware acceleration. In a series of demos showing off the new capabilities, IE team members gave us a taste of just how smooth advanced operations in the browser can be when they are taking advantage of a computer’s multiple cores and GPU (historically most browsers only take advantage of your CPU and don’t take advantage of a second core).
Microsoft used a variety of demos featured on its Test Drive site to demonstrate what the browser is capable of with these new features (they note that the site has been viewed 16 million times since it launched). The demos are now live for everyone — be sure to try out Microsoft’s Mr. Potato Gun — a reference to the awesome video Google released that shows off Chrome’s rendering speed, which was later spoofed by Opera. To add to the joke, Microsoft also gave some Mr. Potato Head toys out to press at the event (pictured below).
The demos given today showed the Platform Preview sounding beating Firefox and Chrome, but it’s worth pointing out that it wasn’t necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison, as users can’t really use the IE9 preview yet. Likewise, the IE9 blog previously gave a taste of how hardware acceleration compares on IE9 versus Apple’s recently-released Safari 5, where again IE9 was clearly faster (but not yet available). Microsoft began releasing these platform previews in March as a way to help increase communication with the developer community and show off some of IE’s upcoming features. Microsoft has not yet announced when the IE9 beta will be available for download.
Here’s are some screenshots of the Test Drive demos showing the score of Chrome 5 running on a Mac vs. IE9 Platform Preview: