Tim Berners-Lee, the British-born inventor of the World Wide Web, says he doesn’t like to express preferences among Web browsers. But he does have an issue with one of them: Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer. Berners-Lee, director of the standard-setting World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, said in an interview this week that Internet Explorer is falling behind other browsers in the way it handles an important graphics feature for Web pages.
A Web image that is encoded as a scalable vector graphic, or SVG, can be resized to fit the computer screen or zoomed into without becoming blocky and losing sharpness, as happens with images encoded as the more traditional “bitmaps.” Maps are one popular use of SVG.
“If you look around at browsers, you’ll find that most of them support scalable vector graphics,” Berners-Lee said. “I’ll let you figure out which one has been slow in supporting SVG.”
That would be Internet Explorer. While Firefox, Safari and other browsers have built-in support for SVG, Microsoft relies on a plug-in from Adobe Systems Inc. that must be downloaded before Internet Explorer can show SVG objects. This applies even to the recently released “beta” version of Internet Explorer 8.