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Microsoft Releases IE 11 Preview For Windows 7

Microsoft says IE 11 is 30% faster than the competition, and that Windows 7 users won't have to wait as long for the final version as they did with IE 10.

10 Hidden Benefits of Windows 8.1
10 Hidden Benefits of Windows 8.1
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Microsoft announced Wednesday that Windows 7 users can now download the Internet Explorer 11 (IE 11) Release Preview, which is the last preview version before the browser's general availability. The final version of the browser will first debut in October with Windows 8.1 but should also reach Windows 7 customers this fall, Microsoft said in a statement.

With the new preview, Microsoft is giving its largest swath of customers their first taste of IE 11, which has been available to other groups for several months. Windows 8 users have had access to an early version of the browser since June, when it debuted as part of the Windows 8.1 preview. Microsoft also released an IE 11 Developer Preview for Windows 7 in July.

During these earlier previews, Microsoft touted a number of IE 11's enhancements, such as improved JavaScript performance, open Web support for hardware-accelerated 3-D graphics and implementation of W3C Resource Priorities, which enable developers to designate which parts of a page should be loaded first. This week, Microsoft said the newest preview is even more advanced than the ones that launched over the summer.

[ Tracing a pattern on a picture turns out to be a poor password. Read Windows 8 Picture Passwords Easily Cracked. ]

In a blog post, IE program managers Sandeep Singhal and Rob Mauceri said the IE 11 Release Preview is 9% faster than IE10, 5% quicker than July's Developer Preview, and over 30% speedier than the competition. The improvements are based on the Webkit SunSpider benchmark, which speaks mostly to IE11's JavaScript performance but still portends meaningful boosts in everyday tasks. Singhal and Mauceri said IE 11 will be secure and compatible with existing sites yet also equipped for the latest Web standards and interactive experiences.

Past versions of IE developed a reputation for poor security and sluggish performance. Although the browser continues to face security risks, the most recent versions are substantial improvements. IE continues to dominate other browsers in market share and has modestly increased its share over the last year, according to Net Applications. In August, the Web-tracking company found that IE versions aggregately accounted for almost 58% of desktop browsers, with IE 8 and IE 10 each claiming around one-fifth of users.

Nevertheless, Microsoft recognizes that IE's image still need rehabilitating, especially as more browser usage shifts to mobile devices. To do so, the company is embracing IE's shaky reputation; it's launched not only a tongue-in-cheek website,, but also a video in which customers recount their negative perceptions of IE only to be impressed by IE 11's features.

The video focuses largely on touch functions, which matter more to potential Windows 8.1 customers than to Windows 7 users, who make up the biggest chunk of Microsoft's Windows business. Still, IE 11 promises non-touch users better performance and more extensive support of open standards, neither of which are insignificant upgrades.

Moreover, if Microsoft delivers IE 11 for Windows 7 this fall, it will have launched two major IE upgrades in less than a year. IE 10 had been on the market with Windows 8 for three months before Windows 7 users finally gained access, but with the newest version, Microsoft appears to be moving even faster. Retiring CEO Steve Ballmer has said a rapid release cycle will be central to the "One Microsoft" strategy around which the company is currently being reorganized, and IE 11 suggests Microsoft is becoming acclimated to the new pace.

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Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
9/19/2013 | 9:37:23 PM
re: Microsoft Releases IE 11 Preview For Windows 7
I was surprised to see that from July to August IE actually reclaimed market share and Chrome declined. Firefox rebounded a bit too. I wonder what that's about.
User Rank: Apprentice
9/19/2013 | 6:22:54 PM
re: Microsoft Releases IE 11 Preview For Windows 7
For the record, I was loving Firefox for years. Then, on my home PC, it started acting weird. I switched to Chrome, and I'm very happy with it. It's very zippy and responsive. (I still use Firefox, with zero problems, on work Mac.)
User Rank: Ninja
9/19/2013 | 4:49:00 PM
re: Microsoft Releases IE 11 Preview For Windows 7
As a developer, I just shake my head when I read these comments about "better browsers". Browsers are like o/s, worthless by themselves. You just want the sites you use to work. And that problem is old as internet itself, some applications work better in different browsers (or don't work at all) depending on how they were written, which HTML standards were used, and how much cross & legacy browser testing you do.
I develop for internal users, not public consumption. So it is much more sense to standardize browser use internally than spend enormous amounts of time making sure my app runs in every single browser out there. If your company uses Windows computers, then why spend the admin time putting Chrome or Firefox on these desktops. Just make sure your app works in the version of IE you have deployed.
That said, I have both IE and Chrome installed because the debugger in Chrome is far superior. So my apps end up working in both IE and Chrome. But is that an issue for anyone other than developer? No. Regular users just want sites to work.
I'm sure the IE, Chrome and Firefox fans can quote many statistics which support their view of what is best browser. But fact is, and will continue to be for some time, is that some sites will work in one browser (or even one version of one browser) but not in another. A perfect example is this new feature mentioned in article about developer being able to control what loads first. Good luck getting consistent implementation in cross browser environment. And that kind of stuff will never stop coming as long as the browser "space race" continues. Why so much work is put into a product no one pays for anyway is beyond my understanding.
Michael Endler
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
9/18/2013 | 10:45:00 PM
re: Microsoft Releases IE 11 Preview For Windows 7
Browser market share depends a lot on who you ask. In one of its blog posts today, Microsoft cited Net Applications, which tracks users to determine browser market share and shows IE ahead by a wide margin. On the other hand, Statcounter, which is also cited in a lot of articles, tracks page views instead of users. Its most recent data suggests Chrome is kicking IE's tail. The extent to which IE is winning or losing depends a lot on sampling methodology-- but however you slice it, a lot of people continue to use IE, regardless of other options. For what it's worth, I don't often use IE 10 on PCs, but I like it quite a bit on Windows tablets, and I think I'll like IE 11 more.
User Rank: Apprentice
9/18/2013 | 10:31:07 PM
re: Microsoft Releases IE 11 Preview For Windows 7
Wow--58% of desktop browsers are IE? That's WAY higher than I would have guessed. There are better options, people.
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