Having made its debut on Windows 8, Microsoft's latest browser is now available for Windows 7 users to test, with a final release promised soon.
Browsers Continue to Battle
The browser wars seem to have died off in recent times. While the makers tout speed and security, most users are happy with the one they currently use and there seems little incentive to switch. A new OS provides a chance for a change though and Microsoft has made a big play out of IE10 in Windows 8.
However, Windows 7 users won't be left behind as the browser is making its way to the PC's dominant OS too. It offers a united entry box for address and search entries, but that's found in rivals. SmartScreen technology is there to protect against tricky social malware and the Do Not Track option (a bit of a sticking point for advertisers) is built-in to protect your privacy.
There are some differences between the version for Windows 7 and 8 though. The W7 versions lacks built-in Flash, relying on the Adobe plugin. And there's no start screen with your favorites up front, as that was a feature for tablets and touchscreens. But you do get the faster rendering engine and improved standards support.
The trouble (in a good way) with most browsers now is they update regularly and quietly in the background. That means you're better protected and supported with the latest code. There is no need for shouting about new features, frills and so on. Mature browsers don't need them, and there is little do divert users from the business of browsing, running web services and so on.
To that end, Microsoft might struggle to replace Firefox or Chrome as the "cool" browsers to go to, but a recent tide in usability has seen recent versions of I.E. move back into second place in the browser usage charts. That surge might continue as Windows 8 takes off, but now Windows 7 is getting the browser too, at least in this preview form, and might encourage great adoption as users notice the change.
There's no word on a final release date for Windows 7 users. As for Windows XP users, Microsoft won't be offering the browser for this OS, so look elsewhere for your modern browser needs.