Windows 7 users, the wait is over. Microsoft has finally released Internet Explorer 10 — which debuted with Windows 8 four months ago — for Windows 7.
For now IE 10 is an optional update, though Microsoft will be adding it as a silent background update for IE 9 users in the next few weeks. If you’ve been using the preview version released late last year, Windows Update should give you an “Important Update” message, prompting you to install the final version.
As we noted in our earlier review, IE 10 is a huge step forward for Microsoft’s oft-maligned browser, bringing much better web standards support and considerable speed improvements over IE 9. Microsoft claims Windows 7 users should see a 20 percent increase in performance over IE 9, as well as better battery life on Windows 7 laptops.
IE 10 also brings better support for modern web tools like CSS 3, HTML5 and related APIs, making life considerably easier for web developers everywhere.
Of course, while IE 10 is launching strong, Microsoft’s browser typically has a very lengthy release cycle compared to Chrome or Firefox, which both release smaller updates more frequently. Indeed, both IE alternatives are likely to see dozens of updates and improved web standards support before IE sees anything similar.
The good news is that Microsoft seems as anxious as anyone to get IE 9 users updated to IE 10 as soon as possible. Gone are the days when browser updates required active participation on the part of users. These days IE 10 will just slide into the background without so much as an EULA pop up (unless of course you want to stop the update process, which is possible). It’s a start, but until IE begins updating more frequently it will likely always be behind when it comes to web standards support.
For complete details on everything that’s new in IE 10 for Windows 7, check out the Windows blog post.