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When you’re using your Windows 8.1 device as a tablet — or just touching your laptop’s screen — the last thing you want is a desktop browser that hasn’t been properly designed for touch screens. Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome all have different interfaces specifically for Windows 8. There are even other browsers to choose from in the Windows Store.

Note that you can only access the “Windows 8-style” version of a browser if it’s your default browser. In other words, if you want to use the touch version of Firefox, Firefox has to be your default browser. You won’t be able to use the touch version of Internet Explorer until you set Internet Explorer as your default browser again.

Internet Explorer 11

Internet Explorer 11 is included with Windows 8.1 8 Super Windows 8.1 Tweaks For Power Users 8 Super Windows 8.1 Tweaks For Power Users With Windows 8.1 came many changes. Some options are completely new, others were changed or moved. Whether you're using Windows 8.1 on a desktop, tablet, or something in between, these tweaks will come in handy! Read More . Internet Explorer 11 has come a long way Surprise: Internet Explorer 11 Has Matured Into A Modern Browser Surprise: Internet Explorer 11 Has Matured Into A Modern Browser Remember Internet Explorer 6? Well, Internet Explorer isn't horrible anymore. Whether you like IE or not, you can't deny that it has improved dramatically and is now worthy of taking its place alongside other modern... Read More since the days of Internet Explorer 6 on Windows XP. It’s also come a long way from the Internet Explorer 10 included with the original release of Windows 8. For example, IE 11 now allows you to have a near unlimited amount of tabs, while IE 10 limited you to ten tabs.

Like most of Microsoft’s new interface, IE 11 is designed for touch screens and full-screen, immersive content. That’s why no interface bits are shown on screen while you browse. To view the tab bar, you can swipe up from the bottom and you’ll see thumbnails representing your open tabs. You can also opt to always show a traditional tab bar from the settings charm, which is ideal if you regularly switch between tabs.

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Internet Explorer 11 is a capable touch browser Make Internet Explorer 11 Work for You With These Tips Make Internet Explorer 11 Work for You With These Tips Internet Explorer 11 isn't terrible! In fact, if you've got a Windows tablet and have bought into the whole Metro -- sorry, "Modern" -- interface, it's probably the best touch-based browser out there. Read More . It allows you to swipe right and go back a page or swipe left and go forward a page. IE even attempts to automatically guess the next page so you can swipe forward to it. For example, if you’re reading a multiple-page article online, swiping the page to the left will load the second page in the article. On MakeUseOf’s home page, this swipe will take you to the next page of articles.

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If you come across a page that requires you hover your mouse cursor over something, you just have to long-press it with your finger and IE 11 will simulate a hover event. It’s ideal for old pages that were designed for mice, not touch screens.

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Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla now provides a touch-first, Windows 8-style version of Firefox. This new interface isn’t stable yet, so you won’t find it on the default version of Firefox. Currently you have to install the beta version of Firefox, launch it, click the Firefox menu button, and select Relaunch in Firefox for Windows 8 Touch.

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Firefox offers a start page with links to your bookmarks and recently visited sites. Like Internet Explorer, it displays web pages in full-screen mode with no interface by default. You can swipe down from the top or up from the bottom to access the tab bar and navigation bar, which are separate in Firefox. The interface feels awfully similar to Internet Explorer 11, but it is Firefox. It’s especially useful if you use Firefox on other computers or Android devices, as you can use Firefox Sync to sync your browser data between your devices.

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Google Chrome

Google provides their own Windows 8-style version of Chrome Google Updates Chrome For Windows 8, Adds Noisy Tab Feature And Desktop-like UI Google Updates Chrome For Windows 8, Adds Noisy Tab Feature And Desktop-like UI Chrome users on Windows 8 can expect an update rolling out to their browser today that includes a "Noisy Tabs" feature and Chrome OS-like desktop environment. Read More , but it’s not what you might expect. It’s a full, Chrome OS-style desktop that allows you to use multiple Chrome windows and run Chrome apps, just as you would on a Chromebook Everything You Need To Know About Switching To A Chromebook Everything You Need To Know About Switching To A Chromebook Chromebooks run a slimmed-down operating system optimized for getting on the web with just the Chrome browser and Chrome apps. Can you switch to a Chromebook? Read More . It’s a different approach, but it may be worth a try. This interface gives you a way to run multiple Chrome browser windows and Chrome apps without the rest of the Windows desktop getting in the way.  To use this feature, just click Chrome’s menu button and select Relaunch Chrome in Windows 8 mode. If you don’t see this option, Chrome currently doesn’t support your device. For example, Chrome currently doesn’t support the Surface Pro 2 and other devices with high-DPI displays.

Unlike Internet Explorer and Firefox, Google Chrome allows you to run browser add-ons in its Windows 8 interface. Chrome for Windows 8 actually doesn’t feel as touch-optimized as Internet Explorer and Firefox do. Instead, Google has first transplanted their Chrome OS desktop How To Try Google Chrome OS On Your PC How To Try Google Chrome OS On Your PC How many times have you been approached by a friend or family member who says that they really have very little use for a big, powerful computer, since all they do with it is check... Read More onto Windows and will work on optimizing it for touch devices as they improve the experience for touch-enabled Chromebooks. If you just want a full-screen browser to use on a tablet, Chrome may not be ideal.

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Skip the Other Browsers

As on Apple’s iOS, some developers have chosen to make their own browsers by providing a different interface around the Internet Explorer web-page-rendering engine. Microsoft’s Windows Store policies prohibited this when Windows 8 was released, but this rule appears to have been removed. Nevertheless, while there are many other browsers in the Windows Store — UC Browser HD UC Browser HD: A Competent Web Browser For Windows 8 Computers UC Browser HD: A Competent Web Browser For Windows 8 Computers Read More , for example — none of them stand out. They render web pages using the same engine Internet Explorer 11 uses and have similar interfaces. We don’t see any reason to choose them over the other browsers here yet.

If you don’t have a favorite browser, you’ll probably want to use Internet Explorer as Microsoft put a lot of effort into making it work well on touch-based Windows 8 devices. If you already use Firefox or Chrome and want your Firefox browser data or Chrome apps and add-ons, Firefox and Chrome are both solid alternatives.

Image Credit: Dell Inc. on Flickr

  1. goof
    May 10, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    of all the browers firefox is the best

  2. Mike
    March 8, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    OMG, switching to Chrome in Windows 8 mode was a horrible experience, and was hard to revert back. I am using Surface Pro 3, and the touch experience with Chrome is less than desirable.

    When I switched to Windows 8 mode, the screen was reduced in size and the touch was suddenly not properly calibrated to the screen. Took a lot of experimenting to finally guess the offset touch position necessary to bring up the Chrome menu, and then use the keyboard to scroll down to the "switch to desktop" mode.

  3. hans
    December 22, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    I prefer chrome over the others since when i tap on a text box the virtual keyboard pops up automatically. With the others I have tap in the text box then tap the keybosrd icon on the taskbar to mske it appear.

  4. Mandy Puniya
    June 5, 2014 at 11:00 am

    For me, chome is best for my touch laptop as it has extra feature than firefox and I don't like ie frpm beginning, don't know why???????

  5. Candy Gariepy
    March 5, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    I really wish to win one day. I have been trying and trying

  6. Candy Gariepy
    March 5, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    I hope to win one day

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