MICROSOFT’S INTERNET EXPLORER 11 for Windows 7 provides a nominal speed boost over IE 10, and includes performance-enhancing technologies such as prerendering and prefetching. Although users can download a copy of IE 11 for Windows 7 from the Microsoft website (go.pcworld.com/iedownload). the company is also sending out the upgrade through automatic updates.
Overall, Microsoft claims, users will see a 9 percent performance improvement versus IE 10, and performance that’s about 30 percent faster than rival browsers. IE 11 ships with the new Chakra just-in-time Java compiler, which is designed to improve the performance of websites, plus support for components of the ECMAScript6 standard.
IE 11 offloads WebGL graphics processing onto the GPU, reducing CPU power consumption and improving performance. Microsoft has improved the browser’s compliance with Web standards, too, including support for processing HTML5 video without the need for plug-ins.
If you’re not running Windows 8.1, you’re missing out on touch-specific IE li features.
The performance improvements are also partly attributable to the browser’s technique of prefetching the first or primary link on the page, downloading and constructing the page before you even click the link. Background elements are downloaded and stored ahead of time, as well. Finally, the previous page is stored and cached for a smooth transition if you decide to back out of a page.
Nevertheless, if you’re not running Windows 8.1 on a touch-enabled PC, you’re missing out on a number of touch-specific IE 11 features.
One of the most subtle, yet most convenient, of these is “flip ahead,” a simple way to avoid the “pixel hunt” at the end of a lengthy page of items. For example, imagine that you’re shopping for a laptop on Amazon.com, and you’re looking for a middle-of-the-road model, so ordering the list of results by price or screen size still forces you to navigate through a few pages. While Amazon’s site allows you to navigate by clicking a page link, “flip ahead” allows a touchscreen IE 11 user to advance one page simply by flipping the page left with a finger gesture.
Such a feature might have been a curiosity at one time. But developers are adding “flip ahead” to major sites, bringing it not only to Amazon but also to Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, and NewEgg. (“Flip ahead” is not enabled at the Costco, Target, or Walmart sites, however.)
IE 11 also taps into other Windows 8.1 features such as the ability to pin websites to the Start screen, to snap a window, and to save articles to Reading List, an app within Windows 8 and 8.1.
Thanks to collaboration between Microsoft and partners, projects such as the popular game Contre lour (qo.pcworld.com/contrejour) and the Everest: Rivers of Ice (go.pcworld.com/everest) experience are both optimized for Windows 8. And developers can visit Microsoft’s
In Windows 8, you can snap a couple of Internet Explorer windows and run them in parallel. Not so for Windows 7.
Build My Pinned Site tool (www.buildmypinnedsite.en. com) for help in constructing a site that will appear as a dynamically updating live tile on the Start screen.
Such efforts transform a website into something that looks much like an app, a feat that Google and other browser rivals haven’t been able to match so far. But Microsoft hasn’t done a great job of showing off these capabilities, something that Roger Capriotti, director of marketing for Internet Explorer, says the company might explore further.
To date, Microsoft’s unofficial mantra for the latest versions of IE has been “Touch is the new fast.” With the release of IE 11 for Windows 7, Internet Explorer is simply faster. But users who run IE 11 on Windows 8 or 8.1 will see noticeable improvements beyond that.
Fortunately, users of either IE 10 or IE 11 can view Microsoft’s frankly awesome Internet Explorer anime.