Surprise: Internet Explorer 11 Has Matured Into A Modern Browser

Chris Hoffman 10-07-2013

internet-explorer-tileRemember Internet Explorer 6 If You're Still Using IE6 You Are A Problem [Opinion] IE6 was the best of the best when it came freshly squeezed out of Microsoft's software factory. Because of that it was able to achieve the record 95% browser market share at the height of... Read More , and how we had to tell all our friends and relatives to download Firefox and replace that horrible, outdated browser? Well, Internet Explorer isn’t horrible anymore. Whether you like IE or not, you can’t deny that it’s improved dramatically and is now worthy of taking its place alongside other modern browsers — especially with the new Internet Explorer 11.


Internet Explorer 11 is part of Windows 8.1 How To Upgrade To Windows 8.1 Preview & What To Expect Anyone using Windows 8 can now upgrade to a preview version of Windows 8.1 for free. This update refines Windows 8, giving keyboard and mouse users important interface improvements and making the Modern interface more... Read More , which is a free update for Windows 8 users that will launch later this year. Windows 7 users will eventually be able to upgrade to Internet Explorer 11, too. It’s currently available as part of the Windows 8.1 preview release.

The Modern App

Microsoft has been polishing nearly every Modern app included with Windows 8, and Internet Explorer is no exception. Internet Explorer 11’s Modern interface has seen a large number of updates and improvements. Windows 8.1 is Windows 8 as it originally should have shipped, and Internet Explorer 11 is the browser it should have shipped with.

  • More Tabs: The Modern version of Internet Explorer 10 Internet Explorer 10 Tips and Tricks: It Can Do More Than You Think When Microsoft unveiled Windows 8, one of the most interesting things about it was the new iteration of Internet Explorer. If viewed via the Start screen, the slimmed-down browser offers maximum space for viewing web... Read More only allows you to have 10 tabs open at a time, but Internet Explorer 11 supports an unlimited amount of tabs. Microsoft says IE won’t slow down with 100 tabs open, as it will automatically unload tabs that aren’t in use and restore them when you access them again.
  • Live Tiles: Internet Explorer 10 allows you to pin websites to your start screen, giving you a tile that opens the website directly. Internet Explorer 11 allows these pinned websites to function as live tiles. Websites you pin can display live content just as if they were an installed app.
  • Touch for Hover Menus: Many websites still use menus that require you to hover your mouse cursor over something. This isn’t possible on touch devices. With Internet Explorer 11, you can touch-and-hold on a web page to simulate a hover event. In other words, you can use touch to interact with legacy websites that require hovering.
  • Tab Sync: In addition to syncing favorites, history, and settings, Internet Explorer can also use Windows 8.1’s integrated sync features to sync your open tabs across Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone devices.
  • Permanent Navigation Elements: IE 11 allows you to keep your browser tabs and the navigation bar on screen at all times. If you find IE 10 too awkward because these elements are always disappearing, you can choose to keep them visible. Tabs are smaller in this view so they take up less space on screen.


  • Favorites Center: Internet Explorer 11 has a new favorites interface, so you can view and edit your favorites without heading to the desktop.
  • More Interface Tweaks: Other aspects of the Modern app have also been redesigned. For example, browser tabs are now on the bottom along with the navigation bar instead of at the top.
  • Side-by-Side Browsing: The Modern interface allows you to snap applications with flexible widths, including a 50/50 view that allows you to have applications each take up half of your screen. You can also launch multiple copies of an app. This means that you could have two Modern Internet Explorer apps next to each other for side-by-side browsing. With a large enough screen resolution, you can have up to four apps — so you could have four websites side-by-side in the Modern interface.


The Modern version of Internet Explorer will also work with the vast majority of Flash sites, just as Internet Explorer 10 does today. At release, Flash content was restricted from running in Modern IE, but Microsoft rolled out a patch to change this several months ago.


The Desktop App

Unfortunately, Modern IE and desktop IE still don’t get along properly. While you can sync tabs across your devices, you can’t keep tabs in sync between the Modern browser and the desktop version of IE — they’re separate applications with their own separate states. The desktop version of Internet Explorer has not been updated much. You’ll get the benefits of all the low-level rendering engine improvements and sync features also work, but the desktop app’s interface hasn’t been dramatically changed like the Modern app’s has.

Developers will find that IE’s developer tools have been massively updated. In IE, press the F12 key on your keyboard to open the developer tools. Although they’re part of the desktop version of Internet Explorer, they fit Microsoft’s new “Windows 8-style UI” aesthetic.


Under the Hood

There’s a lot of catching up going on under IE’s hood. Internet Explorer has long been seen as the outdated browser that’s slowly catching up. Microsoft made huge strides with both Internet Explorer 9 7 Useful Tips & Tricks For Internet Explorer 9 Users Tech websites write a lot about Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, so it’s easy to feel a bit left out if you use Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer 9 is easily the best version of Internet... Read More and Internet Explorer 10. However, there were still some missing features, and many of them have been added:



Should You Try IE 11?

Once again, Microsoft has made some huge improvements in Internet Explorer with IE 11. IE has changed so much that Microsoft has removed the “MSIE” string from its user agent. Existing websites will look at Internet Explorer’s user agent and see it as a browser more like Firefox. Microsoft wants websites to serve web pages designed for modern browsers, not web pages designed for ancient versions of Internet Explorer like IE 6.

If you’re already using Internet Explorer on the desktop, you’ll be happy to know that you can continue to use IE without missing out on the modern web. If you’re currently using Chrome The Better Browser With Great Features - Google Chrome Google Chrome presently is the most popular browser on the planet. It took Chrome less than 4 years to rise from barely 1% market share to where it is now. Globally, more than one out... Read More or Firefox, it’s hard to recommend the desktop version of IE — Internet Explorer still doesn’t have the extensions other browsers have, and it also only syncs with other Windows devices, whereas Chrome can sync your browser data with Android and iOS devices.

If you’re using a touch-enabled Windows device, Internet Explorer 11 offers the interface most designed around touch. Chrome’s Modern interface is the same as its desktop version, while Firefox still doesn’t offer a Modern interface. However, some people will prefer Chrome’s more classic interface, especially because it offers extensions and syncs with other devices that Internet Explorer can’t sync with — Android, iOS, older versions of Windows, Mac, and Linux.


If you’re using Windows 8.1, you should give IE 11 a try to see just how far Microsoft has come. You’ll find IE 11 most compelling if you use touch-based Windows 8.1 devices, a Windows Phone, and don’t need access to any browser extensions.

Have you tried Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 8.1 yet? If you have touch-enabled Windows 8 hardware 5 Ways to Add Touch to a Windows 8 Computer Windows 8's Start screen and "Modern" apps can feel awkward to use on a non-touch PC, but they really start to make sense when paired with a touch PC. If you're not ready to go... Read More , which browser do you prefer? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. JOE
    May 25, 2015 at 12:38 am


  2. ray
    April 1, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    i cant find where to download windowers 8

  3. ray
    April 1, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    i cant find where to download windowers 8

  4. Marian
    March 26, 2015 at 8:47 am

    Have updated PC to IE11 using Windows 7 home premium
    and still getting message:

    You are using an obsolete browser
    that will not display this site correctly.
    Please update to a modern browser
    like Chrome, Firefox, or IE11

    Can somebody help me out?

  5. Vic
    January 1, 2014 at 7:40 am

    IE 11 BITES BIGTIME!!!! I have windows 7 home prem and I've had more problems than it's worth!! I will be looking into Firefox or Chrome for my browser!!

  6. Bob Davis
    December 17, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    IE11 on multiple forums does not allow the use of copy and paste. Yet another step backwards.

  7. Anonymous
    November 19, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Just by looking at it u can feel Microsoft have come a long way but it still isn't as good as the other browsers

  8. amen
    November 9, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Recipe for browser disaster : Club your browser to OS

  9. Mark H
    November 8, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I hate tabbed browsing. Has anybody yet found a hack to disable it in IE11? Thanks!

  10. nullifidian
    November 6, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Dear, oh dear, oh dear. IE 11 fails to load so many websites correctly that I have given up. I don't need to mess around with extra clicks for compatibility all the time. MS seem to have forgotten that I want websites to load quickly and to work properly. Gone back to Chrome which works fine in Windows 8.1.

  11. Jonathan Adams
    October 27, 2013 at 2:36 am

    Now its time for this site to mature to a modern site. Terrible design.

  12. Rich
    July 23, 2013 at 11:00 am

    This article's comments on IE are amusing. Perhaps the author is revealing his age? I remember being a die-hard user of Netscape, and not wanting to switch to Internet Explorer. Finally, after a long time of Netscape failing to handle normal browsing pages and their JavaScript and IE consistently doing a far superior job as THE modern browser. I switched.

    The lead in sentence refers to a 2012 article telling people to switch from IE6 because it is antiquated. Ya! IE6 was 2001. At eleven years old they should have upgraded several times over. The problem there is not the browser but the user who is 11 years and three computer generations out of date.

    While I know why some have switched to Chrome, it is for features I do not use. I see no compelling reason to leave what has been the best browser since it destroyed Netscape due to its superiority.

  13. Chuck Etheridge
    July 20, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    I've found IE10 to be an unmitigated disaster. A great deal of the time it posts a notice that something is wrong with it and M/S will investigate the problem. I had no trouble at all with IE9, but have been forced to use Chrome as my default browser. The IE10 is only taking up apace. Bing generally works and has been good about providing daily fresh desktops, with very good imaging and interesting.They must have a huge storage capacity if stores images. From what I can tell from my readings, those would be lost with W8 as its desktop is covered by those awful rectangles.

  14. Tom W
    July 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    In my view, all of these features are already available in other browsers.
    Yes, Microsoft is starting to catch up but I've said it before, both here and other places, that the biggest flaw in IE is the fact that it only does major updates spaced far apart, whereas the other browsers have a much quicker release schedule.
    No matter how much IE catches up in the latest release, it will always be outdated within 3-6 months. This, combined with the fact that so many people are tied to IE8 because they are still using XP, means that websites that want to cater to IE users must still use hacks and legacy code.

  15. Henrique Miraldo
    July 11, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I own a regular desktop computer and a Surface Pro, both running Windows 8. On the desktop I rarely even see the Modern interface, it's not intuitive at all to use with mouse+keyboard combination (although I got used to it) so obviously I use Chrome instead of IE and I have a wonderful experience. However, on my Surface Pro, the Modern interface works flawlessly as it was originally intended to, so I see myself trying to stick to it most of the time. I can (and am) using Chrome as well, but because the Surface screen is 1080p reduced to a 10.6'' screen size, elements end up being really small and hard to hit with a finger. You can't pinch to zoom neither. With this in mind I'm willing to try the new Modern IE, as I think I'll have a better experience on the touch-enabled Surface Pro. Of course I'll miss some extensions and plug-ins but in the end I think I'll be more productive. Google must start improving it's Chrome experience on touch-enabled devices to at least have an option to increase screen elements. I'm not talking about zoom features here, but rather Chrome elements itself. It's frustrating to try to open a new tab and end up hitting the close button of the last one.

  16. Anomaly
    July 11, 2013 at 4:05 am

    I find it amusing that you slam IE 6. Yeah IE 6 sucks but so does IE 10 and 11. In fact I could argue that IE10 and 11 in the modern UI is worse than IE6. These modern UI apps are crippled in comparison to desktop apps.

    Wow, it can have more than 10 tabs open at one time, ha ha that's an advanced browser right there. Total joke this modern UI from Microcrap.

    • blah
      October 30, 2013 at 3:53 am

      the article poster is incorrect about the claimed limitation of 10 tabs open at one time... did they even bother to check or just recycling the crap they read/heard elsewhere?

  17. Karl J. Gephart
    July 11, 2013 at 2:07 am

    Took ya long enough, MS! Where's all the add-ons? I want my browser to be fully customizable, like Firefox. How much memory resources are you sucking up? Still not sold.

  18. ReadandShare
    July 10, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    IE 11? Still a "NO" for me.

    While no OS can remain in use "forever" -- I do not wish to tie myself to Microsoft where I need to buy a new OS just to keep my browser up to date!

    Chrome and Firefox will support older OS' so long as the demand is there. In contrast, Microsoft has every incentive to push people toward its latest OS.

    • michel
      July 10, 2013 at 10:10 pm

      "I haven’t heard of Chrome users condemned to keep using an ancient version of Chrome or else suffer a break with webpages that they need to continue accessing? And same with Firefox. Why is that? Have you given this a thought?"

      So do the sites that, according to you only work in IE 6, work in Chrome and Firefox? or is it, as you yourself said, that they only work in specific versions of IE? How could that be MS's fault? How is MS keeping the site owners from making their sites compatible with other browsers?

      When I took web design, everyone complained of having to code for different browsers, but everyone recognized that it was part of the job. That's the way it is. If you want to code only for IE 6, you can, but nobody's forcing you. If you want to code for iOS, is it Apple's fault your app won't run on Android?

      Sure, MS made some crappy decisions. They've been working on getting over it. So should you.

      • ReadandShare
        July 11, 2013 at 12:52 am

        Stick to the issue at hand, Michel.

        The inability to upgrade one's browser because a newer version just will not work where an older version once did -- that seems to be peculiar to IE -- an IE problem not shared by other browsers.

        This IE phenomenon has nothing to do with whether Chrome or Firefox could read all the webpages in the universe. Whatever Chrome 1 can read, Chrome 27 can too -- and every other version in between.

  19. likefunbutnot
    July 10, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    I think IE actually turned the corner to "barely acceptable" when Tracking Protection List support was added with IE9. For me it is still just the browser used to install other browsers and on many of my personal machines it has never, ever been launched, but native and easy to use ad-blocking was my single biggest issue with IE and that issue has been resolved for quite some time now.

    Unfortunately, I still have customers dealing with vendor web sites that only work properly with IE6 or IE7 and absolutely no other browsers (including IE8+ in compatibility mode), so the question of when IE will stop sucking is really a hole with no bottom. At the point when I have to deploy a virtual machine so someone can use a web site, there's something deeply broken.

    IE deserves its crappy reputation.

    • michel
      July 10, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      so you don't think that's the fault of the website, when it's specifically coded only to work with IE 6?

      • likefunbutnot
        July 10, 2013 at 7:58 pm

        It's a combination of factors, obviously, but the root cause is ultimately a set of terrible design decisions inflicted on us by IE's developers.
        I don't blame "lazy web developers" because almost every working web developer I know is well aware of the work involved in configuring a site to work in multiple browsers and more than willing to make sure that their code and their designs work as intended.

        I don't blame site owners because in many cases the expense to fix the problems that stem from a largely incompatible, complex site are higher than the cost of continuing to support a site that does the work it needs to do.

        If Mozilla and to a lesser extent Opera and the KDE Project (Webkit is derived from KHTML, part of KDE) hadn't soldiered on and built modern web interfaces, we'd still be dealing with tab-less browsers and ActiveX controls and that's Microsoft's fault.

        • michel
          July 10, 2013 at 9:39 pm

          But the web developers aren't creating working sites, and you blame MS? And the companies don't spend the money on fixing the sites, and again you blame MS? It's really impossible to tell how the world would have worked out if in fact things were different, and that's MS's fault?

          Oh, I get it - blame MS. I guess they were responsible for the bad weather here this week, too.

        • ReadandShare
          July 10, 2013 at 9:51 pm

          Chrome is now at v27. I haven't heard of Chrome users condemned to keep using an ancient version of Chrome or else suffer a break with webpages that they need to continue accessing? And same with Firefox. Why is that? Have you given this a thought?

          Web developers code in accordance with browser specs. They do not control browser changes. The browser makers themselves have control. Maybe it really is IE's fault -- at least in part?

        • likefunbutnot
          July 10, 2013 at 10:23 pm

          It was and still is well within Microsoft's not inconsiderable power to develop tools to help migrate sites away from broken or incompatible technology. They make the developer tools, they make the web server, they make the browser. With total control of the ecosystem, yes it could on some level build some kind of middleware (an IIS module, for example) to improve sites with IE-specific legacy code, something that is a monster of its own creation in the first place.

          Yes, developers built sites that ran on IE6. They did what they were paid to do using the tools that they were provided from Microsoft. In many cases they did it a decade ago on shoestring budgets or as side projects. The code still works but at this point it's unmaintainable and the cost to fix it is too high for small operations to bear. There's really no point fingers at any other party to this situation but Microsoft here.

        • Howard B
          August 9, 2013 at 9:21 pm

          No, blame MS for making IE6 the default browser before people even knew that other browsers (than an outdated Netscape) existed, and not making IE6 standards-compliant. As the EU's "browser ballot" decision proved, MS should have never embedded a web browser in the OS to begin with.

    • michel
      July 10, 2013 at 11:05 pm

      okay, I get that you're just stubbornly not going to give up this point, that's your story and you're sticking to it. You know, my grandfather bought a horse to deliver milk, and when all the other milkmen drove him out of business using trucks, he stubbornly still kept feeding that horse, and blamed the guy who sold it to him.

      • Isaac
        August 21, 2013 at 6:48 pm

        That's a very different analogy. That was due to stubbornness, much of people's use of older versions of IE came from a lack of knowledge that they weren't using the full web - they just click on the blue "e" and go to YouTube. If something breaks they phone their computer savvy nephew. It's quite common, and while you could blame them, you could blame MS for putting so much, yet so little into a browser that plainly sucks. There's no good reason why they couldn't have just stuck WebKit inside of IE, changed the about page to reflect the wonders of OSS and released it as a critical patch. Even so, us web devs are stuck. If we want out site to work well on large corporate networks, in schools, or to a large amount of the population, we've gotta either dumb down our code or configure 2 different front ends, enduring the hackish nature of UA parsing and dynamic serving.

    • Alex
      July 12, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      U are able 4 Ghostery,WOT etc...

  20. Mitchell
    July 10, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Chrome started off great but is awful now. Firefox and IE is the future.

    • Chris Hoffman
      July 31, 2013 at 1:27 am

      I don't know about that, I still love Chrome. Faster than Firefox and more extensions than IE.

      Maybe once Firefox becomes properly multi-process.

  21. Matthew U
    July 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    better than previous versions of ie but it still is too little too late
    chrome and firefox are still the best browsers unless microsoft makes a massive update

  22. CGA
    July 10, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Still no addons, unable to get nowadays basic functionality as mouse gestures.

    • Chris Hoffman
      July 31, 2013 at 1:26 am

      There are some add-ons, but very, very few.

      • Luis
        August 21, 2013 at 2:12 pm

        Some (if not all) of my favorite extensions aren't available on IE... so no!

  23. Jerome Indefenzo
    July 10, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    wow. good job microsoft. Maybe IE 12 should be enough to replace firefox or chrome.

    • Sandy
      July 10, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      never .. firefox and chrome are the best

      • Jerome Indefenzo
        July 11, 2013 at 7:05 am

        only if chrome or firefox implements the touch-to-hover feature. Soon enough, Windows 8 PCs will be widely used and touchscreen PCs will be highly available. When that time comes, people will realize that the touch-to-hover feature is really important. (it's really hard trying to open onhover menus with a touchscreen phone right now)

    • NameLess
      April 18, 2015 at 6:40 pm

      There's always Windows 10 and Project Spartan to look forward to! They're looking pretty cool!