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IE 11 'Release Preview' for Windows 7 Now Available

Microsoft today rolled out a "release preview" test version of Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 7.

This preview, which can be downloaded here, is the last test version that Microsoft will release before issuing the final "general release" of IE 11 for Windows 7, which is expected to appear "later this fall," according to a blog post by Roger Capriotti, senior director of Internet Explorer marketing. IE 11 also will ship with Windows 8.1, and, in that case, its general availability date is already set for Oct. 18.

Installing the preview will replace IE 10 on a user's machine, according to Microsoft's FAQ. Consequently, it's best to try it out on test equipment.

For those developers testing the browser using other platforms than Windows, Microsoft plans to release virtual machine images of IE 11 release preview for Windows 7 at its modern.ie site sometime this week. Announcements of those virtual machine images (for Android, Mac and Windows) will be made at the @IEDevChat Twitter feed, Microsoft indicated.

Microsoft's Windows 7 version of this browser has tended to lag the release of its Windows 8 cousin. The last release of IE 11 for Windows was called a "developer preview," and it was released in late July. There are differences in the features supported on IE 11 for Windows 7 vs. IE 11 for Windows 8. For instance, there's no SPDY support, or support for the Media Source Extensions and Encrypted Media Extensions standards in IE 11 for Windows 7, although those protocols are supported by IE 11 for Windows 8.

Microsoft's announcement of IE 11 for Windows 7 release preview indicated that some new developing standards are supported with this release. For instance, the release preview adds support for the Pointer Events draft of the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C), which is working on interfaces for touch, mouse, keyboard and pen that are "hardware agnostic." There's also support for W3C's recommendations on closed captioning in the browser, which lets users change how captions appear in video sources. The W3C's "do not track" draft protocol is supported, which is a method of telling third-party Web advertisers that the user doesn't want his or her clickstream activity monitored (although it's entirely voluntary for advertisers to honor the request or not).

Microsoft is claiming that this release preview of IE 11 on Windows 7 comes with speed improvements, beating its IE 10 browser by nine percent on the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark tests. The release preview of IE 11 on Windows 7 also beats other browsers in speed by 30 percent, based on SunSpider testing, Microsoft claims.

Developers will get updated tools with the release preview, which are accessed via the F12 key. Microsoft claims that it's easier to debug WebGL content with the updated tools. It's faster to find Web content files via an improved file picker in the debugger. Memory leak sources can be better tracked and CSS property edits can be seen "in the Live DOM without having to press the enter key," according to Microsoft.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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