While Microsoft has regularly touted the improvements in Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8, the company has said next to nothing about the browser and Windows 7, the operating system that powers 44 percent of all Windows PCs.
Last year, when Microsoft first introduced Internet Explorer 10, it promised that the new browser would run on not only the new Windows 8's desktop mode, but also on 2009's Windows 7.
Even though the company has updated the previews of IE10 for Windows 8 six times, most recently May 31 when it shipped Windows 8 Release Preview, it stopped serving sneak peeks for Windows 7 more than a year ago.
The last preview capable of running on Windows 7 was issued June 29, 2011.
A document aimed at developers continues to state that, "When it's released, Internet Explorer 10 will be available for Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Windows Server 2012."
A Microsoft spokeswoman today confirmed that the company is committed to producing a Windows 7 edition of IE10. But users want to know more, including when.
"I do have the latest Windows 8 Release Preview but I am wondering what is taking so long for IE10 to be available for testing on Windows 7," asked a user earlier this month on Microsoft's IE10 support forum.
Last November, Microsoft said it would ship beta and RC, or "release candidate," builds of IE10 for the current OS. "We will release an IE10 Beta and Release Candidate on Windows 7 prior to IE10's general availability," said a commenter labeled as "ieblog" -- presumably Microsoft itself -- in a Nov. 29, 2011, blog post by the team.
But it's not clear whether those plans are still in place: "General availability" of IE10, at least on Windows 8, is likely just four or fewer months away.
Today, Microsoft declined to comment on whether it will, in fact, deliver pre-release builds of IE10 for Windows 7 before it ships the final browser.
Users and Web developers chastised the company for not releasing previews of IE10 on Windows 7, arguing that silence hurts the browser's chances of adoption.
"You will not catch some of the bugs in IE10 that happen only on Windows 7 because no one tests it on Windows 7," said someone identified as "KS" last year in a comment on the November 2011 IE blog post. "You have been trying to not repeat your old mistakes. But that doesn't help if you make new mistakes with eyes wide open."
The biggest questions -- when does Microsoft plan to ship IE10 for Windows 7 and whether that edition will be identical, or merely similar, to the one for Windows 8's desktop -- also remain unanswered.
Some have speculated that IE10 won't appear on Windows 7 until Microsoft ships the second service pack, or SP2, for the operating system. Based on the track record of Windows XP and Vista, Windows 7 SP2 is nearly overdue: Microsoft delivered SP2 for Windows XP just over three years after that edition's launch, and Vista SP2 two years and three months after Vista's debut. Windows 7 launched in October 2009.
Microsoft today also declined to comment when asked how IE10 would be issued to Windows 7 customers.