Microsoft continues courting Web devs with IE 11 for Windows 7

Internet Explorer logoMicrosoft today released a beta of Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 7. This version is essentially equivalent to the browser that's built in to the Windows 8.1 preview release.

Internet Explorer 11 brings with it greater GPU acceleration—using the GPU for both text and WebGL 3D graphics—greater standards compliance, and better performance. Perhaps contentiously, the Windows 8.1 version includes support for the emerging DRM support specification that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the Web standards body, is developing. This means that Internet Explorer 11 will join Chrome in being able to support plugin-free Netflix.

Internet Explorer 11 completely reworks the browser's F12 developer tools. The development and debugging experience is designed to be a lot closer to that found in Visual Studio. The profiling tools have been extended to include not just processor profiling but also GPU and memory usage profiling. For example, you can take snapshots of a page at different points in its execution, compare the set of objects that scripts have created, and see what's using the memory.

This kind of capability may be relatively unimportant for desktop browsing, but it continues to be an important issue for memory-constrained mobile environments. The work that Microsoft has done in Internet Explorer 11 should prove to be a welcome addition to the Web developer's toolbox.

Recognizing that not all Web developers use Windows as their primary platform, Microsoft launched modern.ie in January. modern.ie includes a scanner that examines sites to detect compatibility issues and a whole bunch of virtual machines to let people test various versions of Internet Explorer. VMs are provided for Microsoft's virtualization tools, of course, but also VMware, Parallels, and Virtual Box.

The set of VMs has been updated to include Windows 7 with Internet Explorer 11 and Windows 8.1. Microsoft is also offering a discount for OS X users: for a limited time only, they can save 25 percent on Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac.

The scanning tool has been released as an open source project on GitHub. This means it can now be used on intranet and other private sites. It tests for a bunch of common issues, such as using old versions of common libraries, certain kinds of improper coding, and correct use of cross-browser CSS.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: browsers, Internet Explorer, Microsoft, Windows 7, Windows 8.1

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