Four months after debuting on Windows 8, Internet Explorer 10 has finally come to Windows 7. Here are the five essential facts users should know.

Michael Endler, Associate Editor,

February 26, 2013

4 Min Read
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Four months after debuting as part of Windows 8, Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) is finally available for Windows 7. A preview version of the new browser has been available for Windows 7 since November, but Tuesday's release will be the first taste for the majority of the operating system's 700 million users, the largest user base of any Microsoft platform.

Available in 95 languages, IE10 continues Redmond's efforts to reclaim its status as the top Web-surfing option. Over the years, IE has slowly ceded ground to competitors such as Chrome and Firefox. Estimates vary, however, regarding how much damage has been inflicted. The most recent findings from Net Applications, for example, suggest that Microsoft continues to lead the field, with IE's various versions aggregately accounting for 55.14% of worldwide market share.

The findings also show IE making modest gains in recent months, with chief rivals Firefox and Chrome receding slightly over the same period. Recent StatCounter figures, in contrast, show that Chrome has held the top spot worldwide since last spring. They also show that IE, though comfortably ahead of Firefox, has continued to trend downward.

Whatever Microsoft's actual market penetration, IE10 is the company's most competitive and modern browser. Should you give it a look if you've already migrated to an IE alternative? Here are five facts you need to know.

1. Most Of Changes Are Under The Hood.

If you've run IE9 on Windows 7, IE10 probably won't look much different at first glance. Whereas the Windows 8 version of IE10 moves the address bar to the bottom of each page and features a stripped-down, rakish aesthetic, the Windows 7 variant retains its predecessor's major design cues. There are tweaks, such as a change that allows users to close multiple tabs in succession without moving the mouse. Microsoft also has integrated spellcheck and autocorrect functions. But most of the changes are subtle.

2. Focus Is On Speed, Modern Web Development.

Any similarities to IE9 should slip away once IE10 loads a few pages. Microsoft claims the browser loads Web pages 20% faster than before thanks to better hardware acceleration and an enhanced JavaScript engine. As an added bonus for laptop users, IE10 is supposed to improve battery life, too. The browser also handles HTML5 particularly well by including support for 30 additional standards.

3. IE10 Is Microsoft's Most Secure Browser.

IE10 boasts a number of security and privacy enhancements, headlined by the fact that websites are barred by default from collecting user information. That feature got the lion's share of attention after it annoyed advertisers, but IE10 offers security improvements all around. AppContainer, for example, approximates the sandboxing approach used in mobile operating systems, essentially segmenting processes so that an infected program cannot easily spread malicious code elsewhere.

4. IE Supports Touch.

Like the preview version launched four months ago, the official IE10 release supports touchscreen capabilities. Sadly, most Windows 7 hardware isn't equipped to take advantage. For the few who have touchscreen-enabled Windows 7 laptops, a new world of haptic web-browsing awaits. For everyone else, the touch-powering APIs mostly serve to simplify matters for developers.

5. Most Windows 7 PCs Will Automatically Install IE10.

As long as it's running Service Pack 1, any Windows 7 machine on which auto-update is enabled will download IE10 over the next few weeks. Microsoft is beginning with customers running the preview release. Those who don't want to wait can download the new browser directly.

Microsoft previously released a toolkit that blocks the automatic delivery of IE10, a helpful option for IT admins who aren't quite ready.

Vista and XP users are still limited to Internet Explorer 9 and Internet Explorer 8, respectively.

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About the Author(s)

Michael Endler

Associate Editor,

Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 and, pending the completion of a long-gestating thesis, will hold an MA in Cinema Studies from San Francisco State.

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