Microsoft trumpets IE 11 for Win Phone 8.1, but reviews are mixed

Some users commenting about Windows Phone 8.1's browser complain about how it handles tabs

By , IDG News Service |  Software

Microsoft crowed about advances in Internet Explorer 11 for Windows Phone 8.1 earlier this week, but so far reviews from users are mixed.

Microsoft detailed in a blog various security, privacy, speed and interface enhancements to the browser, but people aren't completely happy with the way it works on the upcoming version of the smartphone OS.

Windows Phone 8.1 is available in a developer's preview version and is due to ship in final form in the coming months. Non-developers can install it as well by following these steps.

There are several recurring complaints from commenters, many focused on the way IE 11 handles Web page tabs, which unhappy users described as erratic, confusing and inconvenient.

Some found that the browser opens and closes tabs too slowly, and that it often arranges them in arbitrary order, making it hard for people to find specific ones when a bunch of them are open.

Several users also complained that tabs and Web pages reload too frequently and without the user prompting the action, which at times can be inconvenient and make navigating open pages confusing and slow.

Overall, the consensus from those complaining about the browser's handling of tabs is that this worked better in previous versions, where it was clearer to users how many tabs were open and in what order, and without them being automatically reloaded.

Another complaint mentioned by some users is difficulty in using Web page menus that respond to "hovering over" by a mouse in a desktop browser, an action that can be replicated in IE 11 in Windows 8.1's "Modern" touch interface by pressing and holding those links.

A user also commented that he reported a bug in the way the browser deals with Web forms, which he said makes it impossible for him to submit forms on the sites he frequents. The user said he's been waiting several weeks for Microsoft to respond to his report.

Asked for comment, a Microsoft spokesman said via email that "a fix is coming" for this Web forms bug, and he also confirmed that the browser lacks a "badge" that in previous versions let users know how many tabs were open.

He also said that the menu "hovering" capability exists in IE 11 for Windows Phone 8.1 but that it may sometimes require that users hit the "back" button to make it work properly. "We will continue to look at improving this scenario in the future," he said.

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