Rumors are circulating that Microsoft could announce a beta of Internet Explorer 9 at the upcoming MIX 2010 conference. The new version is rumored to feature improved support for open web standards. The MIX 2010 conference will include at least two presentations about new, open web standards: One, on HTML5, is entitled "HTML5 Now: The Future of Web Markup Today." Another session looks at the SVG vector graphics standard.
A shift toward open web standards for Internet Explorer would signal a major change for Microsoft. The company has been criticized in the past for not fully supporting modern, open web standards. Microsoft's lack of web standards support is a major factor in the rise of third-party browsers like Firefox, Chrome, and Opera, which feature a more compliant browsing experience, and better support for developers.
Microsoft currently offers toolkits that allow developers to create web applications that store data both locally and on the web, possibly with the intention of stoking interest in developing web applications that operate in conjunction with Microsoft's own cloud computing platform.
From a web developer standpoint, better web standards support for browsers makes it easier to create websites that work on any current browser. From a user standpoint, this means that it'll be easier for you to use an alternative browser without having to worry about sites not working properly. The old "This site requires Internet Explorer" messages could one day become a thing of the past.
Microsoft declined to comment on these rumors, so we'll have to wait a few weeks to see if this report is true, and if the rumored changes are enough to reclaim ground from their more open competitors. Here's hoping, for a more open, compliant web.