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Internet Explorer 10 is good but is it the best?

Although Windows Phone 8 is still a few months away from release, it doesn’t mean we can’t start to gather information about it or one of its main new features: Internet Explorer 10.

The new browser was revealed back at the Summit in June and it will match the desktop component found in Windows 8 Desktop, due in late October. Featuring a new JavaScript engine, better performance, twice the HTLM5 compatibility, advanced privacy features and optional data-compression, the browser should really be a step up for consumers.

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Microsoft even showed off the SunSpider results compared to iOS6-beta and current Android phones (but not JellyBean). SunSpider is a direct, real-world measurement of JavaScript performance and in this case, IE10 looks to be significantly faster than its competition.

One area though that IE10 seems to be behind ever so slightly is HTML5 compatibility and specifications. This is a tough area to measure because HTML5 is not set in stone yet for specific features—it’s in flux, there is debate and there are proposals.

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IE10 takes the top spot in SunSpider

One of those measurements is found at HTML5test.com and luckily for us it looks like someone recently sampled a Windows Phone 8 device running IE10. Due to the grey areas of what HTML5 actually means, they have divided the test up into three areas: Official, Related and Experimental.

'Official' are just what they sound like—HTML5 specifications that are approved. 'Related' are ones that were at one time included but have been dropped or replaced and 'Experimental' are proposed specifications that have a chance of becoming accepted.

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HTML5Test has iOS 6 beating Windows Phone 8

In this regard, IE10 on Windows Phone 8 performs admirably well scoring 300 plus 6 Bonus points (awarded for audio-video support not specified). That is out of a possible 500 points plus 15 Bonus points. Android 4.0 (JellyBean Ice Cream Sandwich) gets a score of 280 + 3 Bonus points while Apple’s iOS 6 browser gets an impressive 360 + 9 Bonus points. Interestingly, IE10 for desktop received 319 + 6 Bonus showing that at their current stages, the two versions of IE10 are still slightly different.

The areas where IE10 was lacking in comparison to iOS 6 are the following:

Official HTML5 specifications

  • MPEG-4 Support
  • PCM audio support
  • Embedding custom non-visible data
  • Hidden attribute
  • Input types: date time, date, month, week, time, date-time-local, keygen

Related HTML5 specifications

  • Server-sent Events

Experimental HTML5 specifications

  • Web Audio API

It’s hard to put that into real-world experience but going by pure specifications of officially supported HTML5 features, it looks like iOS 6 beats out IE10 in Windows Phone 8. Does that mean everyday users will actually notice? We’re not too sure as some of these specifications may be niche. But having said that, it’s still better to have more official specifications than less.

Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that BlackBerry 10, which is far from being complete, had the top score of 447 + 10 Bonus points, crushing everyone else. Perhaps we shouldn't count RIM out just yet.

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Wait...is that a BlackBerry we see?

At least Windows Phone 8 has a few things going for it: it still beats the other browsers in JavaScript speed tests, it has more HTML5 compatibility than Android 4.0, it has better safe-browsing support and optional data-compression for faster browser with less data consumption. We should also mention that when we tested our IE9 we got a piddly 138 out of 500. When compared to IE10's 300 score that is certainly an impressive improvement.

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Although IE10 may be behind iOS6, it trounces the current IE9 for HTML5 on Windows Phone 7.5

Of course all of these numbers can change as official browsers come out so we’ll have to revisit these numbers again in the fall. To our browser and standards mavens out there—do you think these results matter much? Sound off in comments.

Source: HTML5test; Thanks, Paulo O., for the tip