Internet Explorer 10 Preview available for Windows 7 users

IE 10 won't be a major upgrade over IE 9 for Windows 7 users

Although Windows 8 users have been enjoying IE10 since the new OS launched, this is the first time Windows 7 users can give the new browser a try.

For Windows 7 users, Internet Explorer 10 won't be a major upgrade over IE9. Microsoft mainly focused on Windows 8 for this version, building a new Modern-style interface with optimizations for touch and support for Windows 8 features, such as sharing and search from the Charms bar and Start screen app pinning. Aesthetically, the desktop version of IE10 looks nearly identical to IE9.

Still, there are a few reasons to check out Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 7 devices. Let's take a look at the main new features.

Flip ahead

Internet Explorer 10 can detect when an article on the Web has multiple pages, and offers a "Flip Ahead" function to turn to the next page. It's useful if you're reading through an article and can't find the "next page" button on the website; just hit the "Forward" button in IE10's navigation bar to flip the page. This feature is disabled by default because it sends your browsing history to Microsoft. To enable it, go to Internet Properties > Advanced > Browsing and check "Enable Flip Ahead."

Security enhancements

Microsoft says Internet Explorer10 builds on the security features of its predecessor, with improvements such as full support for HTML5 Sandbox technology.

The main new feature, however, is an optional " Enhanced Protected Mode," which locks down parts of the operating system that the browser typically doesn't need to access. For instance, with this mode enabled, the browser can't access your Documents folder unless you're performing a specific action, such as choosing a file through Explorer dialog. The idea is to keep documents safe even if an attacker has exploited a vulnerability in the browser or an add-on. This feature can be enabled through Internet Options > Advanced > "Enabled Enhanced Protected Mode."

Default Do Not Track

Do Not Track is enabled by default in Internet Explorer 10. This setting asks websites not to track the user's browsing behavior for the purpose of serving targeted ads, but it's still up to those sites to actually comply with the request. Microsoft's decision to enable Do Not Track has caused a controversy, since advertisers believe users should have to opt out of tracking. As a result, some companies have said they'll ignore Internet Explorer 10's Do Not Track settings .

Under-the-hood improvements

Internet Explorer 10 is largely about performance improvements rather than big features. The browser has support for more standards-based features, such as 3D transforms, transitions and animations in CSS, and HTML5 spell-checking. Microsoft has also worked on improving JavaScript performance. Lately Microsoft has shown off its browser's performance chops with Web-based games like Atari Arcade and Contre Jour (though, to be fair, the games work well in other browsers).

To download the preview of Internet Explorer 9, head to Microsoft's website.

This story, "Internet Explorer 10 Preview available for Windows 7 users" was originally published by PCWorld.

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