Microsoft continues improving its web browser software and in Windows 8.1 the software giant is introducing Internet Explorer 11, a new version that is notably faster than its predecessor and keeps the promise of delivering a fast and fluid experience optimized for touch.
New improvements include faster page load times, more responsiveness and productivity features, battery efficiency, and Microsoft is also revamping the F12 developer tools.
Although, Microsoft is improving the overall experience in the new version of IE, the most significant changes are in the Windows 8 app version of the web browser. Alight, here is what’s new:
Tabs in Internet Explorer 11
In Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 8.1/RT, you can use as many tabs as you want, in fact Microsoft has released an article stating that IE11 supports up to 100 tabs per window and manages them all very efficiently.
The best part, though, tabs that have not been used for a while won’t use system resources or drain the PC’s battery. And this is a good thing, Google Chrome, for example, will not release system resources such as memory as you leave tabs open.
One particular addition to the new version of IE is the ability to sync tabs across all your Windows 8 devices. But in order for sync to work, you need to have SkyDrive “Sync settings” turned-on, in particular the Web Browser option. So if tabs are not syncing, this is the first place to look. (Note that tabs and address bar are now unified and located at the bottom of the screen.)
I previously wrote the Windows 8.1 Guide: SkyDrive app, a seamless integration to the cloud, you can use this guide to configure sync tabs and other sync options in Internet Explorer 11.
Viewing your tabs is pretty simple, with the keyboard and mouse, just right-click on an empty space or use the +Z keyboard shortcut, with touch simply swipe from the bottom edge. Also you can always show open tabs and address bar at the bottom of the screen from the Options menu, accessible with the +i keyboard shortcut and clicking Options.
In the new version of the web browser, Microsoft incorporates a method of prediction to anticipate your next move. For example when clicking or tapping the address bar in Internet Explorer 11, the browser will present the most recent websites you’re likely to go. The interesting part is that the list is constantly being updated with your online behaviour using all your Windows 8 devices (e.g., tablet, desktop, laptop, etc.). So now you can start to see the reason why Microsoft is pushing users to get more dependant of the cloud with SkyDrive.
Also there is a new Suggestions feature, which returns relevant sites, deep links, Windows 8 apps recommendations, and search terms by typing a few keystrokes for faster browsing experience. As an extra bonus, you can also get instant answer by typing terms like: “New York weather” or “Microsoft stock price” without even having to leave the address bar making you more productive.
Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 8.1/RT includes a new “favorites center”, which is a better approach since Microsoft buried favorite sites until you open a new tab in IE10. To bookmark a web page simply right-click or tap the star button from the address bar, then click the star (+) button, and choose where to save the link. Also you can customize the look of the page you’re saving by adding a site image.
IE11 pinned sites live tiles
Now your favorite websites support live tile to show update information about the site when you pin a site to the Start screen. (Here is the Microsoft tool to build a pin site.)
Microsoft’s latest browser is more accurate and responsive than its predecessor with touch-enabled devices by using the graphics processor to handle gestures like zooming, swiping, and panning.
IE11 produces “stick to your finger”
Internet Explorer 11 has a new feature called “Tracking Protection” (keep in mind that this isn’t the actual Do Not Track (or DNT)). This is another similar way to guard your privacy by blocking web content from services that could track your browsing behaviour.
IE11 has the ability to scan for binary extensions such as ActiveX before the page loads, protecting users from malicious code.
“View downloads” is another addition that basically does what the name implies, it displays a list of all the downloaded content with a few options to manage the list.
A few other features in the new version of the browser include: a new option to highlight phone numbers (very similar to the Skype feature), flip ahead is enabled by default, which let you navigate to the next page faster and easily. Clicking a link from Reading List or Mail app will open Internet Explorer side-by-side. You can open multiple windows of IE11 to easily compare products, stories, or just because you want to read multiple things at once and tabs are also now grouped by window. (To open multiple windows, simply start a new tab, right-click or tap the tab, and choose Open in a new window.) Finally you can even set the homepage URL from the Windows 8 app version of IE.
WebGL is an open-graphics standard to render 3D graphics in the web browser. Now Internet Explorer supports this standard delivering a more immersive web experience.
HTML5 videos without plugins
IE11 can handle HTML5 video with closed captioning, smooth streaming, and right management without a plugin.
As I previously wrote, Microsoft has confirmed that this next version of IE will support SPDY, a protocol created by Google to speed up download speed for websites, by reducing the loading time by up to 64%.
New developer tool
For those wondering, the software giant has confirmed in the past that it has plans to make Internet Explorer 11 available in Windows 7, but the company has to announce a release date.