Technologizer

Microsoft Previews Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 7, Continues Trying to Woo Back IE Haters

IE is a good browser these days, but its maker is still trying to overcome its not-so-good reputation.

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In the browser wars, Internet Explorer has been following a strategy that’s radically different from those of Chrome and Firefox, but which makes eminent sense for Microsoft: Instead of being a browser that runs well on all sorts of platforms, it’s one that’s optimized for one operating system. That OS would be Windows.

And given that plenty of folks are taking their own sweet time to move to Windows 8 (which will soon be Windows 8.1), Microsoft isn’t abandoning Windows 7 users. This week, in fact, it released a preview version of a Windows 7 edition of Internet Explorer 11, Windows 8.1’s browser.

IE 11 for Windows 7 isn’t about new features so much as speed, speed, speed. According to Microsoft’s benchmarks, it’s 9 percent faster than Internet Explorer 10, and 30 percent faster than Chrome and Firefox. It achieves its performance in part by performing feats specifically tailored to Windows PCs, such as decoding JPEG images using the computing muscle of a PC’s graphics processor, so it doesn’t tax the main processor. Microsoft also says that you can comfortably open a hundred browser tabs and wander between them without undue lag.

As part of IE 11’s rollout, the company created a video — you can watch it the top of this post — which urges people to reconsider their relationship with Internet Explorer. It involves a woman-in-the-street interviewer talking with real people who express contempt for (or at least disinterest in) IE — until she shows them the new version.

For a while now, Microsoft has been making these videos that reference IE’s iffy reputation: here’s another one. And this one doesn’t so much say that IE has bad associations as that people haven’t thought about it much at all since the 1990s. It’s an astounding situation for a product that once came as close to 100 percent market share as any major piece of software ever has.

I’m fascinated by advertising that takes any sort of an negative tone about the product in question. (I think of it as Price & Pride syndrome, because it makes me think of a self-flagellating ad campaign that fallen grocery giant A&P ran when I was a kid.) If people do have negative associations with something, it might be cathartic for an ad to acknowledge it. But if you keep doing it forever, the message might not sound like “we’ve changed” so much as “people still don’t believe we’ve changed.” Which is why I find it fascinating that Domino’s is still running commercials criticizing its own food two and half years after the campaign started.

Note, however, that Microsoft isn’t exactly conceding that Internet Explorer was ever bad. It’s saying that a lot of people weren’t crazy about it at one point in the distant past and stopped using it, and therefore have outdated perceptions.

Which is perfectly accurate. Internet Explorer 6 — Windows XP’s original version — was dreadful, and it festered for years, getting more and more laughably out of date as Firefox got better and better. But IE 7 and IE 8, though not fabulous, were steps in the right direction. And Internet Explorer 9, which debuted in 2011, is a good, solid modern browser. Today’s IE might or might not be your favorite browser, but Microsoft has nothing to apologize for: It’s already successfully turned a marginal product into a nice one.

Bottom line: If you think IE still stinks, it’s your own fault, not Microsoft’s. So I hope that IE’s we-know-you-don’t-like-us ads don’t last that much longer. If they do, it might be time for somebody to stage an intervention.

9 comments
Robert-ShakaKushner
Robert-ShakaKushner

Google and firefox still have superior browsers. They are simple for developers also 

MicroSoft has produced garbage for sometime. 

This puke Times journalist should actually talk to developers before publishing this rubbish

leidholmt
leidholmt

I agree that they are making steps in the right direction but they still do not support HTML5 as much as they should.  They score a mere 320 on HTML 5 compatibility. I am a software developer and can say first hand that microsoft has a lot of great products but IE is not one of them. They are doing great things with making it faster and using the graphics processor but that doesn't mean anything if the page still doesn't render the way it was intended. When writing web applications I constantly develop for the masses by starting with chrome. Then when i'm done I always have to go back and see what doesn't work on IE because they refuse to support common javascript commands and widely used HTML5 practices due to their decision to not support webkit. I know that they view webkit as being less secure but if you want the masses to use your product then you give them what they want and not what you think they want. I'm an XBOX  user and a I have windows and office on several of my home machines so I'm writing this post as unbiased as possible but IE is not ready to compete against chrome or safari until it embraces common coding practices so that all websites show up correctly to their customers. 

MichaelSummers
MichaelSummers

At lease IE 10 is better than Safari. If HTMLT5test.com gives IE 11 400+ points like Maxathon or Google Chome I would consider going back to IE.

The video I just watch is so un-real. The people that said that they do not know what IE is must be from planet Mars. If you ever had a window device or went to any school from grade school to College you had to use IE

ellak365
ellak365

I'll check it out, definitely! Gotta see if it's better than before, but probably not switching back from the torch browser, or whatever chromium based browser I'm into at the time.

gringoloco
gringoloco

At least MS got 1 thing right and that is to support Win 7. Win 8 is a joke and 8.1 only slightly less of a joke. IE 10 at least recently, still has problems displaying web content from porn site video to ebay and t-mobile. 11 is a lot better? Well I won't hold my breath.

It's pretty bad when you have trouble viewing your cell phone account online so you call technical support and they ask you to try Chrome. True story.

23aka23
23aka23

If it's from Microsoft, I'll avoid it like the plague. Open Office, Ubuntu, Playstation, Firefox... ABM (Anything But Microsoft). Microsoft is a disease.

worleyeoe
worleyeoe

Been running IE11 DE since it was released with PE just loaded up last night. IE11 continues the trend of a vastly improved browser and as you say, MS has nothing to apologize for. No major complaints from me. Looking forward to seeing if my Nokia 521 will get Windows Blue. It would be nice to get a major update to IE on WP.

MikeConners
MikeConners

@23aka23 -Such and idiotic response... Just say you hate Windows and be done with it - Troll. Look you say Microsoft is a disease? That is just plain stupid and ignorant at best. Thanks to Microsoft the PC industry is still alive today. Linux never would have gotten off the ground if it wasn't for Microsoft pushing the hardware manufacturers to make better, faster processors, etc. An entire industry was built around Windows, this includes manufacturers of mother boards, cases, power supplies, memory, Floppies, CD ROMs, DVD ROMs, you name it... Next time do some research before you post...

Jaytime
Jaytime

True and point! I hate how almost everyone is on Microsoft's casefor almost everything they produce or offer as if MS has no history of great contributions to the PC and IT industry in general. MS Office is a great collection of applications and is the business standard and has been for years... Windows as an OS is still the dominant OS worldwide despite less PCs being sold lately. The X-box is also another excellent product by Microsoft, these are but just a fe examples...

And the stupid troll above forgets that Linux runs on machines specifically produced by PC manufacturers to run on Windows so as you correctly pointed out, Linux would not be where it is today if MS had not pushed PC makers over the years to make better and better PCs. All those advances in PC hardware and technology also benefited Linux whether the LInux comminity would like to admit it or not.