Internet Explorer 11 Preview brings better browsing to Windows 7

first_imgUntil now, if you wanted to try out Internet Explorer 11 you needed to be running a copy of the Windows 8.1 Preview . That’s changed today: Microsoft has released a standalone download of the Internet Explorer 11 Preview that you can install on a Windows 7 system.It’s been about 8 months since Microsoft released Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7, so it’s about time for another big update. Don’t forget, Microsoft has accelerated the pace of its browser releases too — just not quite as much as Google, Mozilla, and Opera. There’s not going to be a 20-month lull like there was between IE9 and IE10.What’s new in IE11 for Windows 7? It’s faster, as new browser releases typically are. As it did with IE9 and IE10, Microsoft has continued improving hardware acceleration in IE11. JPEG decoding is now fully accelerated, as is text rendering — which makes many website load up more quickly.Standards support has also improved. IE11 supports SPDY, HTML5 prefetching, pre-rendering, and W3C Resource Priorities, all of which will contribute to better overall performance — once the websites and apps you use start taking advantage of them. HTML5 video has been enhanced, too, with support for captioning and full screen standards.Unfortunately, those HTML5 media extensions that enable plug-in-free Netflix playback on Windows 8.1 aren’t included in IE11 for Windows 7. They may arrive at some point, but they’re not part of the preview build.You may be wondering how IE11 benchmarks on Windows 7. Like most browsers, it does really well in some places and poorly in others.In a quick run through Sunspider 1.0 on my Core i7 test system, IE11 turned in an overall time of 85.5ms. Chrome 28 lags way, way behind  at 171.2ms. Chrome 30 doesn’t fare any better, posting a yawn-inducing 169ms.On Google’s updated Octane benchmark, however, IE11 can’t keep up. It does, however, come out on top on the Gameboy Emulator test — which seems to indicate that whatever Microsoft has done to IE11 has made it a very solid performer in terms of JavaScript-powered 3D.In general, sites load very fast in IE11. Microsoft has very clearly been hard at work squeezing every last drop of performance that it can out of the new browser. It’s another solid step in the right direction from the crew in Redmond, and confirmation that Microsoft isn’t about to sit idly by while Chrome and Firefox leave IE in the dust.last_img