We take a look at IE 9 Platform Preview 3

The next platform preview of IE 9, to be released during the next 48 hours at the official test drive site, will show just how much effort the IE team has been putting in a last-hope effort to catch up to other browsers and push its search engine, Bing.

The browser is expected to finally bring improved CSS support (i.e. displaying rounded corners) and this version is likely to score above 68 on ACID 3, still worlds away from Firefox, Chrome and Safari.

Major improvements include HTML 5 video tag support, partial SVG support, a faster javascript engine (see the Windows Team Blog) and improved tab management. MS is also catching up in the area of GPU acceleration, jumping on the bandwagon started by Nvidia.

As with the last two previews, IE9 will not be available to users of Windows XP. The decision seems a bit short sighted as Vista was a catastrophe and XP remains very popular worldwide and is still sold with many new PC systems. 

MS may well reverse its platform decision when the product is finalised. It is only a matter of time before someone starts an IE 9 on a Windows XP petition.

This version is also unlikely to bring with it a complete user interface, keeping the widespread populace waiting until a “real” beta is released, presumably at the end of August. Thus “Platform Preview” is really MS lingo for “Pre-Alpha” version. A final version is not expected before December, and could be released as late as 2011 according to our sources inside the company.

All in all, technologists can expect another glimpse at a promising, but half-finished browser that may help set MS back on track, given the tremendous competition by Apple and Google in the online space.