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Microsoft Gripes About Firefox 4 Hardware Acceleration

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Uh-oh. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) has finally recognized Mozilla's Firefox 4 as a browser that supports hardware acceleration as well. But Microsoft says that Internet Explorer 9 is the first and only browser that accelerates all HTML 5 content. Mozilla shot back and said that it does as well and even supports partial acceleration under Windows XP, which IE9 does not. Do we care?

It has taken some time for Microsoft to concede that IE9 isn't the only browser with hardware-acceleration support. The IE team ignored Firefox until Firefox 4 Beta 5, when Firefox turned hardware acceleration on by default (even if the feature has been available through manual activation since Firefox 3.7 b5-pre).

We know that Microsoft claims the entire hardware acceleration for itself and it is a major deal for the beta launch on Sept. 15. However, it seems that the advantage of IE9 PP4 over Firefox 4 Beta 5 is within the margin of error, as far as Microsoft's own hardware-acceleration tests are concerned. Even worse, Mozilla now has an experimental version of Firefox out that integrates the new JaegerMonkey JavaScript engine (Firefox JS) and slightly beats IE9 PP4.

So how does Microsoft react? It stomps its feet and says that IE9 has the better and more complete hardware-acceleration integration: "Keep in mind that not all hardware acceleration is equal," wrote Microsoft's Ted Johnson. "Today, IE9 is the first and only browser to deliver full hardware acceleration of all HTML5 content." Mozilla's Mike Shaver shot back in a Twitter post: "MSFT is wrong; we accelerate content and compositing, and we will do partial on XP as well (unlike IE9)."

Shaver's note is based on the fact that IE9 is available only for Windows Vista and 7. Firefox will not be able to render content through hardware acceleration, but the browser will support hardware acceleration in layer compositing through Direct 3D. In Vista and Windows 7, content is accelerated with Direct 2D.

Microsoft's position is that hardware acceleration does not only consist of content rendering and "page composition" but also includes desktop composition. Just like Firefox, IE9 uses Direct 2D for content rendering and Direct 3D for layer (or page) compositing. The company claims that IE9 is the only browser that supports desktop compositing through the Desktop Window Manager (DWM): "Because IE9 uses DirectX and only DirectX, there is better interaction between IE9 and the DWM, using less GPU memory and resulting in better stability than browsers that mix different subsystems," Johnson wrote.

We have inquiries for more details in to Microsoft and Mozilla. We have not received answers yet but will offer updates as soon as we have replies.

For now, I can only judge the hardware acceleration implementations by their performance. Based on Microsoft's tests, there isn't much difference between IE9 and Firefox 4. Firefox 4 even beats IE9 in some tests. Can I be arrogant and say that I don't really care about another acceleration stage if it does not yield a tangible benefit?


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Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (1)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 13, 2010, at 3:08 AM, TwentyTwoHands wrote:

    It matters not what one thinks of Microsoft, the online criminals simply aim for the largest target, which at this point in history is Microsoft and Internet Explorer. 10 years from now it could be Google or Macintosh. So the point here is that if you stop using the largest targeted browser and use something safer and more secure, doesn't it make sense to change?

    O.K., I understand you when you object that "Internet Explorer is built-into every single Microsoft Windows operating system and will continue to. It just makes sense to use it. I need it and don't have much of a choice not to use it. Besides, I'm familiar with it and it would take too much time to change."

    I understand your point, but think about the high number of vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer. Each vulnerability represents a real window of opportunity for malware criminals and other online enemies to enter into your computer and compromise your system using your valuable data for their financial gain. It only makes sense use a safer and more secure browser than Internet Explorer and immediately enjoy increased malware protection.

    Plus, Google Chrome uses the popular, powerful, and fastest "chrome" engine to power the browser. Google built the chrome engine for others to use, and now it uses "chrome" to power Google Chrome.

    Chrome has many safeguards built into the browser, has many extensions and add-ons that allow you to do most everything you could ever do with Internet Explorer. Opera is another safe and speedy alternative that I have used occasionally.

    So what about the other safe and secure web browsers? Years ago Mozilla Firefox was THE browser of choice next to Internet Explorer. Mozilla Firefox is also powered by the "chrome" engine however most recently became the target for such trojans as "ClickPotatoLite" (September 2010) I was faithfully and comfortably using Mozilla Firefox for a number of years up until this year and have since switched to Google Chrome.

    I have used Apples' Safari browser, which is also powered by Google's "chrome" engine, however there are just as many vulnerabilities with Safari as in Internet Explorer 6 or 7. I must mention that Internet Explorer 8 is by far the most secure of all Internet Explorer browsers, however making the change from Internet Explorer will by default help you enjoy a greater level of malware protection. Despite Internet Explorer's vulnerabilities many people still prefer to use Internet Explorer as their default browser.

    I can only testify that I have saved countless headaches, time, and money by using safer, more secure, and free alternatives Google Chrome or Opera. Many have made the switch because they wanted to gain one more advantage over online malware threats and enjoying a greater level of malware protection.


    Money without intelligence is like a car without a road.

  • Report this Comment On September 13, 2010, at 3:26 AM, uc22 wrote:

    nowhere in the comments did I hear them "grip". What do you want them to say? They made points about their browser and why they think it will be ahead of Firefox. If anything they seemed to be admitting it is only slightly ahead. I really don't get all this anti-Microsoft writing on your site. Are you a journalist or one of those people who thinks they are a Jedi fighting the evil empire with their written word? Please tell me about the "countess" headaches you have saved. I bet you really don't have any. Why are you getting malware anyway? What sites do you visit?

  • Report this Comment On September 13, 2010, at 3:32 AM, uc22 wrote:

    My applogies, the part of my comment about "gripe" and how this site is pretty anyi-MS stands but the rest was about another comment (I didn't realize) and not your story. As comments come from all kinds with no real journalistic responibility I can't really say anything about it but they are entitled to their opinion.

  • Report this Comment On September 28, 2010, at 5:14 AM, leapmac wrote:


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