WebGL allows web developers to create hardware accelerated 3G graphics suitable for game or simulations. The big problem is that of the big three browsers only Firefox and Chrome support it and Microsoft have claimed that it was too insecure to implement in IE. Now it seems Microsoft has changed its mind.
The big problem has been that IE doesn't support WebGL and Microsoft has put forward a case for it not doing so based on access to the GPU being insecure. This has never seemed to be a good reason, as IE makes use of the GPU to speed up 2D graphics. The result of Microsoft's stance has been the slightly odd promotion of IE as being a modern standards-based browser that can be used to implement games, but not 3D games. In short, IE has been missing out on the sort of application that Mozilla and Google have been showcasing, i.e. impressive 3D experiments.
Now it seems that Microsoft has silently changed its mind and has realized that 3D in the browser is not only useful but essential to keep up with the others. We know that this is the case for two reasons. The first is that Microsoft just released Windows Server Blue to MSDN subscribers and the version of IE11 it comes with has support for WebGL and Google's SPDY. The second proof is that the program for Build 2013 includes:
||Hyper-fast Web graphics with WebGL
||Learn how to create sites that provide 3D graphic experiences for IE11.
This is about as close to an offical confirmation as you can get.
There are still some questions to be answered, but the news is too good not to report early.
Will support for WebGL mean that Microsoft will update the OpenGL included as standard with Windows or will the browser make use of Direct3D? There is already a mapping of OpenGL onto Direct3D so it is more than likely that IE11 uses this method - which might create some compatibility problems. Also how soon will a Windows 7 version lag behind the Windows 8 version?
In addition to WebGL it also looks as if IE11 has completely revamped developer tools.
More details will presumably be available during Build 2013. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft makes any announcements about changing its mind to support WebGL. This is not an about face to be shy about.