Microsoft said it is shipping the latest developer preview of Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) a little ahead of schedule.
Not even in beta test yet but already surrounded by controversy over Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) decision last week to only support the H.264 video codec, IE9 is intended to renew the browser's sagging fortunes.
"Today we are releasing Internet Explorer 9 Platform Preview 2," spokesperson Brandon LeBlanc said in a post to the Windows Team blog on Wednesday.
The first platform preview of IE9 was released in mid-March at Microsoft's MIX10 Web designer and developer conference.
Among the features being added in the transition from IE8 to IE9 is support for HTML5. Additionally, the company has touted its latest benchmarks meant to show IE9's improving compatibility with the Acid 3 tests.
"Our Acid 3 test score is now 68 [out of 100]," a second spokesperson said in an e-mail to InternetNews.com. Microsoft is striving to improve those test scores with each subsequent platform preview, the spokesperson said.
Although Acid 3 is not a standards test, many developers view Acid 3 numbers as indicative that a browser that passes should correctly render visual elements.
Microsoft claims that, for April, IE8 enjoyed the highest growth rate across all users worldwide with a 1.08 percent increase. But despite IE8's recent gains, overall use of IE fell during that same period below 60 percent market share for the first time.
In the meantime, however, Microsoft is far from ceding the browser market to Firefox or any other competitors. That is evident from the company's aggressive plans to come out with regular updates to the platform preview until IE9 reaches beta test.
"At MIX10, we promised an update every eight weeks -- we're proud to be tracking ahead of schedule," the second spokesperson said. "Developers can look forward to Microsoft continuing to deliver updates to this build every eight weeks leading up to beta."
The company has not given a date for the beginning of beta testing or for general availability of IE9.
The IE9 Platform Preview 2 is available on Microsoft's IE Testdrive site.