Building Internet Explorer 10: a Browser that is Perfect for Touch

When you consider that browsing the web remains one of the most popular activities on a tablet, it’s surprising the experience isn’t better. People should expect more from the browsing experience on a tablet. Browsing speedhas been important to web users, but with the emergence of new form factors like tablets, browsing needs are more diverse than ever before. Page load time is now table stakes. For smaller, touch-enabled devices, the ability to browse the web quickly and effortlessly through an interface that is built for touch has become increasingly important to users. For these tablet users, the new browser performance benchmark is touch. Touch has become the new fast.

While most tablet browsers work with touch, they aren’t touch-first browsers. Simply adapting a desktop browser or smartphone browser to a touch device doesn’t create a great experience. When we started building IE10 we recognized that browsing on tablets had been relegated to second-class status, useable but in an underwhelming way when compared with apps. A recent study by Penn Schoen Berland showed that 8 out of 10 iPad users experienced an issue with the web – including broken functionality and difficulty navigating the page. These iPad users actually preferred using an app for the majority of common Web scenarios because they found the web browsing experience to be lacking.

As we built IE10, we were determined to bring a solution to users who were unhappy with their tablet browsing experience. We designed IE10 from the ground up to be the best browser for tablets, and most importantly, the best browser for touch. Touch is an area of technology that is ripe for innovation, and one that we invested heavily in for IE10 on Windows 8. We worked with partners to build sites like Contre Jour and The Hunger Games Explorerto showcase what a browser designed for touch can do. Take a look at the video below to hear directly from our engineering team about how they worked to set the new standard for touch browsing (and see the cool “magic fingers robot” that they use to test touch on tablets).

When we launched Windows 8 with IE10 on tablets, we believed we had built an entirely new Windows browser designed for touch. Some folks noticed how different Internet Explorer 10 on a Windows 8 tablet is.

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In fact, a study by Mozaic Group showed that more than 8 out of 10 iPad users say they would be very likely to consider swapping their iPad for a Windows 8 tablet running Internet Explorer 10, if it meant having a better browsing experience.

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Source: Mozaic Group’s study reports Internet Explorer 10 on a Windows 8 tablet improves the browsing and overall tablet experience enough to drive iPad users to consider switching (November 2012).

By looking at the IE user interface in a new light, we built features that make browsing with touch fast and fluid on Windows 8. We added features like flip ahead and multi-finger touch support, providing an amazing touch experience that rivals anything anyone has ever done with a browser on new devices. A performance study by Principled Technologies demonstrates how touch became the new fast for browsing as users could more quickly hit their favorite sites or do the most common web tasks with IE10 on a Windows 8 tablet.

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Source: Principled Technologies reports that Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8 is faster than Chrome on Android and Safari on iPad on common Web tasks (November 2012).

And while we believe that IE10 on Windows 8 is the best tablet browsing experience available today, we’re ever dedicated to ensuring that users can enjoy the Web on any browser they choose. Knowing how important web experiences and touch capabilities are to consumers, we continue to help developers create sites built for touch but that also work great with mouse, keyboard and pen. We are actively contributing to the standard work in this area, submitting Pointer Events to the W3Cto allow developers to write to one set of input mechanisms across mouse, pen and touch to ensure they work across all browsers and operating systems. From this, we’re really pleased to see how quickly Pointers has progressed towards a web standard, showing the value of IE’s support to help developers build innovative, touch-optimized sites.

IE10’s fast and fluid, touch browsing experience is different than anything that has been done with a browser on a tablet before, and different than any other browser on Windows. People who have used IE10 on Windows 8 agree and are voicing their enthusiasm for the entirely new Windows 8 browser. Try IE10 on your favorite Windows device today and see the difference, and if you are a developer check out some of the tools we’ve made available on GitHub, or Pointer Events samples available at WebPlatformto give your site the best touch interaction available on the web.

Roger Capriotti
Director, Internet Explorer Marketing