Mozilla employee: IE9 is not a ''modern browser''

Not even a week after the Internet Explorer 9 release candidate hit the web, a Mozilla tech evangelist has taken a public swipe at Microsoft bragging about web standards compliance.

In a blog post, Paul Rouget takes issue with Microsoft's public chest-beating about IE9's compliance with various standards, particularly HTML5. What appears to have particularly rankled Mr Rouget is a table, included in a February 10 post by IE boss Dean Hachamovitch, proudly proclaiming IE9's near-perfect performance on a bevy of standards tests as compared to other browsers, including Firefox.

Those tests, according to Mr Rouget, are not as objective as Microsoft would have you believe.

''Does IE9 support 99% of the HTML5 specification as insinuated by Microsoft? No, they're actually pretty far from it. The tests Microsoft are referring to are the ones they created during the development of IE9,'' he said.

Given that the tests are effectively in-house, it is unsurprising that the IE9 RC performed so well, he said.

''We score pretty well against our own unit-tests as well. The primary use case for these tests, however, is to spot regressions and validate code changes. In other words: the tests ensure that future changes don't break the things you just built. They don't actually test all elements of a specific standard,'' he said.

Using tests at caniuse.com and beta.html5test.com, Mr Rouget argued that IE9 is far from the modern browser Microsoft paints it to be, before listing more than 15 standards elements that IE9 doesn't support.

''The reality is that IE9 is 2 years late. Microsoft is glad to come out with the video tag, the canvas tag, SVG, and some CSS3. Like other vendors did years ago. Firefox 3.5 had the video tag, the canvas tag, Geolocation, SVG in 2009. Canvas and SVG existed 5 years ago,'' he said.

Given that these accusations are coming from a Mozilla employee, the case for bias is a clear one. Mr Rouget also appears to be somewhat of a lone voice when it comes to strong criticism of IE9's standards support - the release candidate performs quite well when put through a set of W3C tests, though it's worth noting that this particular suite is far from exhaustive. It's possible that after so many years of sub-par standards support from IE, developers are simply glad that Microsoft has finally begun to lift their game.

Image Credit: Myopera.com

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