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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