Microsoft today released a preview of Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) for Windows 7, making good on a June promise to add Windows' most popular edition to the browser's run list.
Last month, Microsoft confirmed that it would create a Windows 7 version of IE11, but at the time declined to set a timetable.
Today's release was labeled "Developer Preview" by Microsoft, implying that IE11 on Windows 7 is rougher around the edges than on Windows 8.1. A beta of IE11 was included in the latter's public preview that launched in late June.
The appearance of the IE11 preview on Windows 7 beat the timing of IE10 on that OS by several months, hinting that Microsoft took to heart complaints by Windows 7 customers last year that they'd been neglected. Microsoft finally shipped IE10 for Windows 7 on Feb. 26, four months after that browser's debut on Windows 8.
Today, Microsoft pledged that IE11 on Windows 7 would offer most of the functionality and features of the browser on Windows 8. "IE11 on Windows 7 offers the same improved performance, faster page load times [and] new standards support for next generation sites," said Sandeep Singhal and Rob Mauceri, a pair of group program managers for IE, in a blog post.
Among IE11's enhancements and additions, Singhal and Mauceri trumpeted the browser's support for WebGL, the open-source 3-D and 2-D graphics acceleration standard. Getting behind WebGL in IE11 was a turn-about for Microsoft, which in 2011 scorned the standard as unsafe.
"WebGL is now a vital component of the Web developers' toolkit, as real-world sites are now using WebGL to create interactive visualization experiences in shopping, real estate, and social networking," Singhal and Mauceri wrote today.
IE11 on Windows 7, however, will not support SPDY, the Google-designed page load acceleration protocol.
The developer preview of IE11 for Windows 7 can be downloaded from Microsoft's website in 13 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish.
IE11 on Windows 7 is tagged 'Developer Preview' but it appears very stable.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.
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