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IE 11 for Windows 7 Now Available

Microsoft released Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 7 systems today.

The browser was last available as a "release preview" test version in September, but, as of today, Microsoft will start to deliver IE 11 for those using Windows 7 via Automatic Update. It's also available for download here in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, but it requires having Windows 7 Service Pack 1 installed.

Once installed, IE 11 replaces the previous Internet Explorer browser. It's possible to block IE 11 delivery through a management tool. Alternatively, Microsoft has a blocker tool that will stop the delivery of the bits, if that's wanted.

IE 11 is also available for Windows 8 systems, and that browser release arrived earlier, back in October with Windows 8.1. While, it would seem that IE 11 might be functionally the same on both Windows 7 and Windows 8 systems, there are more limitations on the Windows 7 side. For instance, IE 11 on Windows 7 lacks "TCP Connection Sharing (SPDY)" support, drag-and-drop touch support, hover touch support, syncing across devices and Encrypted Media Extensions -- which are supported on Windows 8 systems. Microsoft provides a list of the features that are not supported by IE 11 on Windows 7 systems at this page.

IE 11 on Windows 7 currently lacks spelling dictionaries add-ons. However, they can be downloaded via the Microsoft Download Center and will be available later (at an unspecified time) via IE 11's "Manage Add-ons" function, according to Microsoft.

Developers get some improvements that keep up with standards, such as the HTML "pointer-event" property, which is a Worldwide Web Consortium effort to handle device input from pen, finger and mouse in a way that's "hardware agnostic." The WebGL protocol is supported for creating two- and three-dimensional graphics while tapping the speed of a system's graphics processing unit. IE 11 for Windows 7 supports some emerging ECMAScript 6 standards, too, according to Microsoft.

All told, there are "over 25 new or improved modern Web standards beyond IE10" in the new IE 11 browser, according to Microsoft's announcement. A complete list of developer improvements in the new browser, as well as standards improvements, can be found at this page.

Microsoft claims that it "rebuilt the F12 tools from the ground up in IE11," making debugging easier. A UI Responsiveness tool captures a Web page's frame rate and CPU use to gauge potential performance issues. There's also a Memory tool to gauge a Web page's memory use. Microsoft houses a lot of its IE developer resources at its "modern.ie" page. Features demos are at located its Internet Explorer Test Drive site.

As with the release preview, Microsoft is claiming that its IE 11 for Windows 7 release beats its own IE 10 browser in terms of JavaScript processing speed by nine percent. Microsoft used the WebKit SunSpider test for its assessment, and claims that IE 11 leads in JavaScript processing other browsers, including Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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