Microsoft: Don't Hate on IE 10

Microsoft says its latest version of Internet Explorer clears out a lot of clutter and creates a more immersive browser experience when paired with Windows 8's touch environment, and that it can be navigated by mouse and keyboard as well, although from the sounds of it not as elegantly.

In the company's most recent Building Windows 8 blog, the company explains the features new in IE 10, which comes with the download of Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

The browser adapts many of the features of Metro style, the term Microsoft uses for the Windows 8 user interface that relies on monochromatic squares and rectangles branded with words rather than icons to move around the system.

The overhaul from IE 9 is major and requires some learning on the part of users, particularly those familiar with the older browser and how to get around.

For example, the new browser has no visible address or task bars, giving the site being visited top-to-bottom, side-to-side real estate that makes for more immersive viewing. Microsoft says this was inspired by versions of browsers used on mobile phones which feature less "chrome" - hiding tools until they are needed.

These commands can be accessed via "charms," which are icons that pop in from the edges when called up with either taps or mouse clicks, depending on whether the device has a touchscreen. The charms include Search, Share, Devices (printer, projector, etc.) and Settings (clear history, etc.).

The browser has its own Start screen similar to the one for the operating system. It includes a set of brightly colored tiles that show popular sites, frequently visited sites and favorites that get filtered out as users type in URLs in the address bar that appears across the bottom of the screen.

Windows 8 also supports pinning favorite sites to the main Windows Start page, so users can click on a tile for a Web site there and the browser will call it up, rather than launching the browser and seeking it via a tile on the IE Start screen.

Tabs are gone. Rather than a string of them across the top of the screen, a mini image of the last 10 tabs used can be drawn from the top or bottom with a finger swipe, typing Windows Key/Z or a mouse click.

For touchscreen devices, a touch keyboard is customized for browsing, including a "/" key to the left of the spacebar and a ".com" key to the right. Similarly, when users are filling in email forms, the "/" key becomes an "@" key.

Web sites that offer a Metro style app can put a box on their sites that when clicked, bring users to that app in the Windows Store where they can download it.

Internet Explorer 10 bumps up security and privacy by extending InPrivate browsing to be run per-tab to block cookies, history and cached data rather than blanket for all tabs.

While it's not a how-to, the blog does point up important features for trailers of Windows 8 to check out. It does compare and contrast how to perform some functions both by touch and by keyboard and mouse, which reveals the comparative simplicity of touch.

Users familiar with using mouse and keyboard for older versions of IE will find that there are new and often unintuitive ways of getting around the new browser, a possible source of frustration.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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