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Microsoft (news, site) was showing off some early code for IE10 and Windows 8, but you can actually go play with the in-development browser right now.

Exploring the Future?

No one really knows where technology will drive us, but the future for Microsoft is looking somewhat less certain than it was 10 years ago, when there was little else but Microsoft in our digital lives. But the company has the resources and the people to produce relevant and new products to remain a massive force.

One difference between now and a decade ago is that we get to see and play with the new stuff a lot earlier. So, Windows 7 users (Vista is already being abandoned by Microsoft) can already have a look at some of the technology going on inside Internet Explorer 10.

As with the IE9 pre-release program, Microsoft has made great efforts to highlight the speed and features, such as HTML 5 compatibiliity, of its latest browser and to demonstrate practical uses for its custom features. The same can't be said of Windows 8, which Microsoft is trying to keep under wraps.

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Test IE10's performance with a range of fun tools

Making Eight Great

We already know that Windows 8 will work on ARM processors and will be touchscreen-enabled, to get the OS working on those tablet devices that are sweeping the market. A milestone release of Windows 8 leaked recently, and eager coders have pored over it for clues (it looks rather like Windows 7 at the moment, don't expect to see any radical new interface design until a lot later).

But, there are some new things appearing. For a start, there will be the inevitable app marketplace to help sell games, applications and extras to users. There will also be a security filter called SmartScreen (already tested in Instant Messenger to keep dubious links from being clicked) to prevent malicious code from sneaking in through apps and sites.

Windows 8 (some leaked screens, here) should be due for release towards the end of 2012, leaving a lot of time for both it and the market to change. With enterprises now adopting Windows 7 at record levels, they won't want to look at another upgrade for some time, so Microsoft needs plenty of features to appeal to the broader user base, as well as ensuring that it works across a broad range of devices.