As we noted in our 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. And there’s plenty to like even on Windows 7 where Microsoft claims users should see a 20 percent increase in performance over IE 9, as well as better battery life on Windows 7 laptops.
While web developers should be happy to see IE 10 gaining some ground given its vastly superior web standards support and speed compared to previous releases, looking at the bigger browser share picture is still disheartening. While IE 10 use may have doubled last month, it still trails IE 6 use worldwide.
The most widely used version of IE on the web remains IE 8, which, while much better than IE 6, still has next to no support for modern web development tools like HTML5 and CSS 3.
Now Microsoft is reversing the whitelist, blacklisting “the small number of sites that are still incompatible with the Windows experience for touch or that depend on other plug-ins.” According to the IEBlog that’s fewer than 4 percent of sites using Flash.
According to web survey company W3Techs, around 20 percent of all websites still use Flash in some fashion. The HTTPArchive puts that number somewhat higher at 35 percent in general, but 42 percent for the top 1,000 sites on the web. Unfortunately neither of those sources track whether or not Flash is an integral part of the sites that use it, or just used in advertisements on the site.
Whatever the case, despite the fact that the number of sites using Flash is declining, it’s clearly still a big part of the web.
Whitelisting every site on a site-by-site basis was cumbersome at best and often frustrating since sites that might have worked just fine could not simply because they had not made the list. Today’s change of heart for IE10 eliminates that problem and makes Windows 8 a bit more consistent, offering nearly the same Flash experience whether you’re in desktop or Metro mode.
The proposed Pointer Events spec makes it easier to handle input from fingers, pens. Image: W3C.
The W3C recently moved Microsoft’s proposed Pointer Events spec to Last Call Working Draft. To help developers get up to speed, the IEBlog has published an overview of Pointer Events.
Microsoft has even helped to create a build of WebKit with experimental support for Pointer Events (for those not using Windows 8 or who’d prefer not to test in IE 10).
The goal of the Pointer Events spec is to provide a unified model for dealing with all the various input devices on today’s web, namely, the mouse, the stylus and the finger.
Pointer Events handle the various ways a user might be interacting with your site without requiring you to write unique code for each input method.
Currently most browsers register any input as a mouse event, even when it obviously is not (as is the case for most mobile browsers). It works, but it’s what you might call a blunt approach. Pointer Events adds some finesse to the equation, including details like the touch contact geometry size, the pressure applied or the tilt angle of a pen.
If you’d like to get your hands dirty with Pointer Events, either fire up IE 10 or download the experimental WebKit build and head on over to the W3C’s Web Platform docs. Microsoft’s Rob Dolin has a great overview tutorial with basic examples on how to get started. Also be sure to watch the video below from the recent W3Conf; Jacob Rossi, IE Program Manager gives a nice overview of Pointer Events and what you can do with them.
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.
IE 10 for Windows 8 has been out for months and there’s a preview version available for Windows 7, but so far Microsoft has not officially released an IE upgrade for Windows 7 users.
That’s likely to change in the very near future given that the company has released an IE 10 Automatic Update Blocker Toolkit for businesses and organizations that don’t want to upgrade to IE 10. Naturally the only reason you’d need to block IE 10 is if it is in fact finally coming to Windows 7.
There’s a second piece of good news for web developers in this announcement, namely that Microsoft is planning to automatically upgrade IE 9 users to the much more web standards-friendly IE 10 (except of course for those users who download the newly released blocking toolkit).
While IE 10 is a fine web browser, Microsoft’s track record for getting customers to actually update to the latest versions of its software is, well, terrible. And that’s the real problem most developers have with IE 10: It’s not that it isn’t a good browser with impressive support for web standards, what worries web developers is that there’s always the chance that it will be left to rot for 10 years like IE 6.
Hopefully, given Microsoft’s push to automatically upgrade Windows 7 users to the latest IE release, that won’t be the case.