Even before Microsoft launched Internet Explorer 9, it made it very clear that it would be putting a huge focus on standards, compliance and compatibility. It turns out that it was more than just hot air, though, as the company's latest browser has topped the first official HTML5 conformance test.
W3C - who published the HTML5 standard - ran these tests on the latest versions of the five most popular desktop browsers. Since the standard hasn't been finalised - and probably won't be for some time - the evaluation suite focused on just a few parts of the specification, including audio, video and ‘attributes'.
The latest platform preview of IE9 managed a perfect score on five of the tests, ranked top with a score of 89.55 per cent on the sixth and came in third on the final metric. The latest beta version of Chrome 7 came in second, followed by Firefox 4 beta 6 and Opera 11 alpha, with Safari 5.02 bringing up the rear of the pack.
Obviously these tests only represent a small slice of the HTML5 standard, which in turn only accounts for a fraction of all of the content on the web. Nonetheless, it's reassuring to see Microsoft's commitment to interoperability and conformity in practice, even at this early stage. If nothing else, it shows that the software-giant is genuinely trying - and largely succeeding - in creating a competent, competitive browser.
It seems like the browser is already starting to find some favour with the public as well. Approximately six weeks after it launched, CEO Steve Ballmer announced last week at PDC2010 that the beta browser had been downloaded more than ten million times.