Using the Desktop Version of Internet Explorer 10


The Metro‑style version of Internet Explorer 10 is obviously big news because it’s a key component of converting users over to the new Metro environment and its touch‑first apps. For the majority of Windows users, however, or those with traditional desktop PCs and laptops, Internet Explorer 10 Metro is decidedly less well‑optimized for the input devices they’re using and are comfortable with.

More to the point, it’s also lacking some key functionality, such as the ability to run in a floating window alongside other applications on the desktop. It can’t run add‑ons or browser extensions, including ActiveX controls. And while it supports pinning favorite sites to the Start screen, those pinned sites don’t take on their own app‑like identity, as do sites you pin (to the taskbar) with the desktop version of Internet Explorer.

So it’s no surprise that IE Metro’s less adventurous cousin is going to get the nod from a very large number of Windows 8 users. But that said, there’s just aren’t many new features in this version of IE. If you’re used to Internet Explorer 9 already, IE 10 will be very familiar.

Under the hood, Microsoft has been thoroughly overhauling the engines that drive the browser’s HTML, CSS (cascading style sheet), and JavaScript rendering: the three core technologies that enable today’s more standards‑compliant web. Where IE was once the laughing stock of the web standards world, IE 9, and now to an even greater degree, IE 10, is not only performing well, but it’s leading the way.

Without getting too deep into the technical miasma that are web standards, this leadership takes two forms. The first is an ability to accurately render the various features that web standards bodies recognize as being key parts of the most relevant building blocks of modern web standards–those HTML, CSS, and JavaScript bits. A web developer should be able to target these standards–and not be forced to write to individual browsers and browser versions–and know that what they create will simply work.

The second form of Internet Explorer leadership over competing browsers is performance. One of the most amazing transitions we’ve witnessed in recent years is the methodical remaking of Internet Explorer’s rendering capabilities from being software driven to being pervasively hardware accelerated. This means that any modern PC can offload the rendering of virtually any o‑screen element in the browser from the PC’s microprocessor to its graphics processing unit, or GPU. The result is better performance, better battery life, and less general overhead for the system. It’s not just a win‑win. It’s a win‑win‑win.




What’s a “modern” PC? Basically, any PC that was manufactured to run Windows Vista or newer. So any PC that was made since 2006 qualifies for purposes of this discussion.


As far as you and other Windows 8 users are concerned, what really matters is that the browser starts up quickly, runs reliably and with good performance, and renders the sites you visit accurately.


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