Windows 8.1 and Internet Explorer 11 will support WebGL, SPDY, but no WebRTC
Microsoft’s preview of Windows 8.1 is now available to download, and one of the most exciting new features is the inclusion of Internet Explorer 11. In a massive about-turn, after declaring WebGL to be insecure and working on its own HTTP replacement, IE11 will support WebGL and Google’s SPDY protocol. HTML5 support is also much improved, and some much-needed interface tweaks have been deployed.
The inclusion of WebGL, now that Microsoft is assured of its security, is a no-brainer. The inclusion of SPDY, however, before its own HTTP S+M protocol, is a bit of a puzzler. Back in 2012, citing a lack of mobile- and app-oriented features in Google’s SPDY protocol, Microsoft unveiled HTTP S+M. S+M is actually based on SPDY, and provides the same kind of speed-up over normal HTTP (on the order 40%). Microsoft presumably chose SPDY because it’s more mature and already in use across the web, most notably on Google’s services. At this point, it isn’t clear if this is a tacit admission that Microsoft is handing the HTTP 2.0 standard to Google and ceasing development of its own S+M spec. Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer now all support SPDY.
Also new in IE11: You can now open as many tabs as you want (and tabs now appear at the bottom, near your thumbs, rather than at the top); Improved developer tools (not as good as Firefox, but getting there); and tabs now sync across your Windows 8.1 (and probably Windows Phone/Xbox) devices. With Windows 8.1′s improved app snapping, you can now use IE11 to side-by-side two tabs, which is neat, too. There’s still no sign of WebRTC, though, which means websites still can’t access your webcam and microphone.
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