IE 10 'Release Preview' for Windows 7 Now Available
Microsoft on Tuesday announced that a "release preview" test version of Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7 can now be downloaded.
The beta version of Microsoft's newest browser for Windows 7 can be downloaded at this page. The timing of this test release may seem a bit odd, since the finished "release-to-Web" version of IE 10 for Windows 8 is already out, having been released on October 26.
IE 10 for Windows 7 has taken a great leap forward after many months in which Microsoft reported little about its progress. Last month, the company indicated it would issue this test release, but the details up to that time have been sparse. The last release of IE 10 for Windows 7 apparently was an alpha release called "platform preview build 2" on June 29, 2011.
Installing the release preview of IE 10 on Windows 7 will replace IE 9, according to Microsoft's FAQ, so organizations and individuals may want to consider running it on test equipment where that's not important. Also, it's required to have Windows 7 "Service Pack 1 (SP1) or higher" to use the IE 10 release preview. So far, the latest service pack for Windows 7 is SP1. While Microsoft's FAQ seems to suggest that another service pack might be coming, an October Register article claimed to have inside knowledge that Microsoft will not issue a second service pack for Windows 7. A Microsoft spokesperson had no comment on the Register story's claim when asked about it at the time.
IE 10 on Windows 7 uses the same Chakra engine as its Windows 8 cousin, and Microsoft is claiming in its announcement that the same native HTML 5 graphics rendering capabilities are available across both Windows versions. The Windows 7 version supports Cascading Style Sheet 3 visual effects and layouts, Web Sockets, Web Workers, IndexedDB, HTML 5 drag-and-drop, and sandboxing.
Microsoft is also claiming in its announcement that IE 10 on Windows 7 blows past Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox browsers on some speed tests, in particular, on Mandelbrot graphics rendering tests. And while Microsoft has sometimes backed away from its browser speed claims, it is once more asserting first place. According to a blog post by Roger Capriotti, director of Internet Explorer marketing at Microsoft, IE 10 and IE 9 "have the fastest browser response time on Windows."
While the Windows 8 version of the browser comes with a preinstalled Adobe Flash Player, it's not clear from Microsoft's announcement if the Adobe Flash Player is also built into the Windows 7-based IE 10 release preview. Plug-ins were supposed to be forbidden for IE 10 on Windows 8, but apparently they are still OK to use if the browser is used on the "desktop" side of Windows 8, rather than on the "Windows Store app" side (formerly known as the "Metro" side). Presumably, that circumstance may imply that plug-ins are OK to use with the IE 10 release preview on Windows 7, although Microsoft hasn't explicitly said as much.
Microsoft did what it said it would do and turned on the "do not track" function by default in its IE 10 release preview for Windows 7, just as it did for the Windows 8 version of the browser. This decision has been opposed by some Web advertisers, as well as some stakeholders and browser makers at the World Wide Web Consortium. However, Microsoft officials have said that its customers want this privacy protection.
IE 10 users will get a notification that the do-not-track feature is on when the browser first starts up, as well as instructions on how to turn it off, if wanted. The privacy protection is entirely based on the honor system. Browsers with the do-not-track feature turned on send out a header message indicating a preference that third-party advertisers should not track the user's clicks, but nothing prevents advertisers from ignoring the request.
Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.