This week saw the beginning of Microsoft’s long awaited Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7. That’s software that has technically been around for quite a while now, having shipped with Windows 8 back in October of last year, but that was being held back for assorted reasons. Now that they have gotten around to releasing it, the big question is whether or not it is worth your time and attention.
If you’re on your own as far as a personal browser choice goes, the answer is finally “Maybe”. With this release Internet Explorer has gone from a nuisance that we’re stuck with thanks to bundling which will never be willingly opened by many to a decent piece of software. Some are going to find that appealing.
The biggest draw will probably be the speed improvements. As with everything that Microsoft has put out lately, this release is noticeably snappier in daily use.
It also has greatly improved HTML5 support which blows away its predecessor. That doesn’t mean it’s quite on par with Chrome or Firefox yet in that regard, but they’re getting closer. If you’re using a touchscreen, it might actually be slightly better than those alternatives in some respects assuming you’re in a position to take advantage of Touch Events.
Security has been a big concern, of course, and it is no longer worth laughing at the idea of IE and security in the same thought together. Taking cues from Google, Microsoft has taken over Flash updating. They have also started releasing urgent patches as needed even when it disrupts the normal monthly schedule. Add all that to the underlying improvements and you’ve got a much tighter product.
Just about everything that could be done to update things has been done. It still isn’t a complete replacement for Chrome or Firefox for people heavily invested in those systems. There is no ecosystem of add-ons to draw from to bring additional features to your browser. There is actually little personalization possible at all, which is probably the biggest point against the new release. There just isn’t any need to immediately rush to the competing browsers the moment you start up a new installation of Windows anymore.
Give it a try and you might even find that you like it, especially if you’re plagued by some of the not-uncommon slowdown issues caused by quirks in Chrome.
There are a number of groups that probably don’t need to give this much thought.
Many business users are not given any choice in their internet browsing, for example. Either internal considerations make Internet Explorer the only choice, Google Apps integration makes Chrome the only real option, or some other situational concern becomes overwhelmingly important.
Web designers are similarly ruled out. The demands of the activity will provide anybody with plenty of experience with the new browser in short order.
If you’re not constrained in some way, however, the situation changes. I won’t be moving off of Chrome for now, but I’m glad I gave it a fair shot. If things keep going in this direction then it’s easy to imagine Internet Explorer 11 being more than competitive later this year.