Internet Explorer 10 Stable (for Windows 7) - Review

very good
key review info
application features
  • Improved SmartScreen Filter
  • (8 more, see all...)

The stable build for Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7 has been released this week after spending a few months as a preview for developers.

The new browser from Microsoft is offered through Automatic Updates system to users with local administrator accounts, being automatically downloaded and installed without any notification.

Non-administrative accounts are not offered the download. As usual, a computer restart is required to finish the installation procedure.

At first launch, you are presented with the “welcome page”, which provides the same information as in the case of Internet Explorer 9, but with updated graphics.

As such, it still promotes the Do Not Track privacy component and informs that the settings for SmartScreen Filter, Suggested Sites and Compatibility Lists Updates have remained unchanged.

Turned on by default, sending the Do Not Track header can be disabled from “Advanced” tab of Internet options, under Security. Microsoft is the first to introduce this request activated by default, against all criticizing voices. In Chrome and Firefox, the signal is turned off.

In terms of looks, Internet Explorer 10 is not much different from the previous major release and maintains the clean interface with hidden menu toolbar (press Alt key to reveal it) that’s been around for a few version now.

The most essential options are available under the gear icon, which grants access to the add-on management panel, Internet options and safety features (ActiveX Filtering, Tracking Protection, SmatScreen Filter or InPrivate Browsing).

Version 10 of Internet Explorer is the first one to offer Windows users the possibility to automatically load the last browsing session at startup, a feature that has been standard in all other major browser for years.

Up until this revision, this could be done only from the new tab page, where Microsoft bundled the menu for opening closed tabs and the InPrivate option. It is deactivated by default but you can enable it from the General tab of Internet options.

Also fresh in this build is the Spelling Correction feature, available in the add-on management panel. It is activated by default; it automatically marks misspelled text and corrects commonly misspelled words.

Performance-wise, Internet Explorer 10 moves faster than version 9 and we noticed that it uses fewer resources. Comparing the RAM required for the same amount of tabs opened in the two revisions, we noticed a 23% difference in favor of the newer revision.

Furthermore, IE10 proved to be less hungry even compared to competition, as it used significantly less RAM, especially compared to Google Chrome.

As far as HTML5 support is concerned, the score for Microsoft’s web navigator has not changed at all, remaining at 320 and 6 bonus points. On the other hand, Chrome (v.25) has progressed with each new major release, accumulating 463 and 13 bonus points with the latest build.

Firefox (v.19.0.1) is smack between the two with 393 and 10 bonus points. The maximum for the HTML5 test is 500 points.

We also subjected Internet Explorer 10 to JavaScript testing using Mozilla’s Kraken test, which has been created to reflect realist workloads. We ran the test three times and the average score for IE 10 was 15,153.7 milliseconds, which is quite a lot compared to the average time Chrome (5,167.5) and Firefox (5,724) needed to run all the tests.

IE 10 went through Google’s suite of tests for browsers, Octane, as well. This is an improved version of V8 benchmark suite as it adds five new tests to the original eight, in order to cover most real-world browsing scenarios.

In this case a higher score is better. Unfortunately, IE averaged the lowest score (2,206.7). Firefox came on top with 4,299.7, while Chrome recorded an average of 5,976.7.

Our own real-world browsing tests reflected these results as Internet Explorer 10 was the slowest to load up pages, while Firefox maintained the runner up position and Chrome kept the lead.

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Minesweeper Benchmark (assesses hardware acceleration performance) is the latest addition to Microsoft’s gallery of browser tests. On our regular, lower-specced, test machine, IE 10 did not do too well; in fact, it came last and the browser chart remained unchanged, with Chrome in the lead.

However, on our average-specced test station, it managed to take the lead at a significant difference, completing the test in 1.13 seconds, while Chrome came in second with an average of 6.3 seconds, and Firefox took an average of 9.03 seconds to finish the job and did not support sound playing.

The difference between the two results could prompt the impression that, with Internet Explorer 10, Microsoft focused mainly on more powerful machines, while Google caters for a wider audience in this respect.

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In other hardware acceleration performance tests, Google’s browser was almost on equal footing with Microsoft’s.

All our tests were carried out and came out consistent on both machines.

At the moment, there is no rapid-release cycle for Internet Explorer, and word on the web has it that Microsoft is not going to choose in favor of rapid releases because new IE version are driven by innovation and its readiness to hit the market.

Without rapid development, the browser will keep lagging behind competition as far as support for HTML5 standards is concerned, but not limited to this alone. Options that might look insignificant are also important as they contribute to improved usability and functionality of a web browser.

“Paste and go,” tab pinning or stacking/grouping, and keeping tabs the same size when closing until the mouse moves from the bar are details that most users have grown accustomed to and feel natural.

On the same note, some users work with multiple browser profiles and require synchronization options to unify the entire browsing experience on multiple computers. These are not, however, present in Internet Explorer. Syncing can be done but only for favorites/bookmarks, by sharing them using synchronization services such as SkyDrive or Dropbox, so it is not built-in functionality.

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The Good

It is the best Internet Explorer yet. There is the possibility to start browsing from the last session and it brings to the table spell-check and auto-correct option. Do Not Track header sending is turned on by default.

It offers excellent protection against phishing.

The Bad

Much of the options considered standard by most users are lacking. Usability still needs improvements, especially in the context-menu department, which is not as light as it could be.

The Truth

Internet Explorer 10 insists in remaining antiquated in terms of options and usability, but it does make the jump to better performance and faster navigation. However, it still has a lot of catching up to do and, in the absence of a rapid release cycle, leapfrogging becomes difficult.

It is faster compared to Internet Explorer 9 but the competition is clearly dominated by Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

user interface 5
features 3
ease of use 4
pricing / value 4

final rating 4
Editor's review
very good

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