July 6, 2010

The Future of Web Browsers: Why You Should Be Excited Pt. 2

One of the most exciting new features of upcoming web browsers is the ability to utilize your computer's hardware for viewing the web. This promising new technology is called hardware acceleration and it is part of the revolution slowly taking place in web browsers.

Hardware acceleration allows your browser to take advantage of your computer's graphics processing unit (GPU), also known as your video card. By making use of the video card while web browsing, your browser will be capable of handling otherwise sluggish graphics with ease. For example, let's say you are watching a 1080p video in your browser on your computer. As opposed to slowing the browser down to a crawl and leaving you with a choppy video, the hardware acceleration will kick in and use your video card to help out. Ultimately, this will leave you with a much smoother browsing experience and will help with video and graphical issues that would otherwise be problematic.

In addition to the benefits gained from watching videos, web-based applications will also have improvements in overall usability. For example, there is increasing potential for web based video and photo editing applications such as Aviary's suite of products (which are all web-based).

If you are interested in trying out hardware acceleration I would recommend checking out Internet Explorer's recently released Platform Preview of IE9. The IE9 browser has hardware acceleration turned on by default and it is certainly noticeable. If you want to compare IE9 to your current web browser, here is the IE9 testing page, which is set to the default homepage in the IE9 Preview, that you can try to run on whatever browser you choose.

Here is a video comparing IE9 (with hardware acceleration) vs. other browsers, courtesy of Downloadsquad:

Finally, I would like to mention that because of the way hardware acceleration works, you will need to have a decent video card to fully take advantage of these benefits. While you will see improvements with regards to smoothness and choppiness no matter what GPU you have, owning a nicer GPUwill give you greater performance gains.

Faster, cleaner, improved graphics. The future of the web browser is looking brighter everyday in part due to the potential of hardware acceleration.

Be sure to check out the next part of my the "The Future of Web Browsers: Why You Should Be Excited" blog series throughout the upcoming weeks. Part three will discuss the changing user interfaces of future web browsers.

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