A Sneak Peek at Internet Explorer 11

DevToolsGuy / Friday, May 31, 2013

Microsoft recently made an official announcement about Windows Blue, officially and formally renaming the product as Windows 8.1. This announcement also included what is basically a minor service pack update. It will be made available free of charge, and is set for release ‘late in 2013’.

One of the more interesting features included in leaked betas of ‘Blue’ is Internet Explorer 11. However, it is still early days, and we don’t know for sure if IE11 will be included in the final release of Windows 8.1. Here is the lowdown on what we do know:

IE11 is Hiding Out on the Web as Firefox

Well… almost. The build most people have seen identifies itself to websites (via its user agent string) as ‘Mozilla.. like Gecko’. Speculation reasons that IE11 might be trying to start fresh, and that by telling websites to treat it as Firefox, it can avoid legacy CSS code written to deal with the various non-standard ‘features’ of its previous incarnations (IE 6, 7, and 8). It’s a bit sneaky, but entirely legitimate way of cutting ties with the past. Blackberry actually followed a very similar trajectory with their latest mobile browser.

Improvements to IE11 ‘Metro’

The ability to save tabs was not previously available in the ‘Metro’ version of IE. This feature will now work across the board (Metro and desktop) in version 11. Metro IE11 will also support a full download manager (which annoyingly takes you back into Windows proper, but that is an operating system thing), which is a huge plus. Additionally, the ever useful developer tools should also find their way into the new version of Metro IE.

Touch Support for the Desktop

The desktop version of IE11 now sports touch navigation controls, bringing it into line with the Metro version.

WebGL Support

WebGL is a JavaScript graphics API that can be used to render 2D and 3D graphics within a web browser. IE11 seems to be receiving native support for the standard, which will bring it up to speed with most of the other major browsers. Chrome had support from version 9, which was released way back in 2011.