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More on Internet Explorer 11

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Microsoft’s goal for Internet Explorer 11 is to closely tie it into the operating system. They don’t want it to be just a commodity that runs anywhere, they want to make one that takes full advantage of the operating system and underlying hardware.

A big focus is touch support. For example, most browsers are incompatible with sites that use hover menus. In Internet Explorer 11 you can use touch to active those same hover menus unchanged. The same goes for hover text (i.e. tooltip text) for images, a commonly used technique in web comics to slip in an extra joke. Microsoft is also claiming to have the first web browser that supports drag-and-drop for touch.

In order to improve battery life and overall performance tab that are not visible are suspended. Thumbnail images of the tabs are captured so that you can quickly find the one you want.

In order to be useful on larger screens, multiple window support is now being offered for IE in WinRT (i.e. tablet) mode. Again Microsoft is claiming to have the first tablet browser to offer this.

Browser sessions are synchronized across devices. Not only are the web pages you are currently viewing available on other machines, so is the back stack. An integrated reading list is also being featured. Reading lists are basically short term bookmarks for articles that someone wants to read later, but not permanently add to their reading list.

IE 11 is the first browser to cache textual glyphs in the GPU. Microsoft claims that this allows them to render text 30 times faster than any other browser. The entire JPEG decompression and rendering pipeline has also been moved into the GPU.

The W3C Resource Priority Spec has been implemented by IE. This allows the webpage to prioritize important content such as the main article over secondary content such as advertisements and user comments. As mentioned in our previous IE report, IE also support the SPDY standard to allow for faster downloads.

DRM and adaptive streaming for video is being backing into Internet Explorer 11. This allows premium content sites such as Netflix to operate without Flash or Silverlight-based plugins.

Some readers are undoubtedly concerned about Microsoft’s previous complaints about WebGL security. Since those statements were made, the WebGL specification has changed and the introduction of CORS prevents the WebGL hacks that affected Firefox on OS X. Additional scanning inside IE and the underlying DirectX drivers reduces significantly reduces the possibility of exploits. For example, if the GPU is overloaded, DirectX will simply reset it.

With Windows 8.1, websites should treated like applications. This starts with the start menu, which allows for live tiles all the tile sizes that are available to WinRT apps. Unfortunately just like WinRT apps, Windows 7 style jump lists are still not available in the start menu.

Microsoft implied, but did not confirm, that IE 11 will also run on Windows 7.

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