March 15, 2012
If you consider that the browser is the heart of any device experience these days, it should come as no surprise that Microsoft has put forth 110 percent when it comes to building out Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 8 Metro. In fact, there’s so much work involved, the Building Windows 8 blog did an overview of the feature set of IE 10 Metro for Windows 8. Here’s what you should know …
IE10 for Metro is a full-screen browsing experience — but you already knew that. But what you might not know is that Microsoft has made every effort to make the Metro browsing experience as pleasing as possible. For instance, there are fun features such as …
Integration with the [Windows app] Store [which] makes it easy to discover and launch Metro style apps for the sites you visit in IE. The navigation bar shows if the site has an application available. One tap (or click) takes you to the app in the Store. Once an app is installed, you can launch it directly from the site.
The example given is CutTheRope.IE, an IE-specific version of the popular iOS and Android game. Like iOS before it, Windows 8 Metro allows the game to load fully, and then run like a local app. This opens up a world of possibilities for developers who want to build HTML5 apps, or cross-develop for Android, iOS and Windows 8.
Another new function of IE is “charms,” popular activities located on a sidebar activated by a swiping gesture. Charms include activities such as site-sharing via e-mail or social media, searching for text on the page, adjusting settings or heading back to the Metro Start Screen. A Devices charm allows you to print, play and push whatever media you’re looking at to a smart TV (think AirPlay for Windows). Every time a charm is used, a time, date and battery indicator automatically hovers over the page you’re visiting.
If you’re a browsing junkie, your favorite web pages can be pinned to your Start Screen, and with activeX integration, can actually provide live-tile updates and notifications (though I don’t think many sites will use this).
The Building Windows 8 team also toiled under the hood to rework the “fluid behavior” of IE10, including scrolling, swiping, and new touch gestures for zooming and navigating. You can’t underestimate the power and appeal of responsiveness, so I commend the Windows 8 team on its efforts to ensure it.
Of course, Microsoft stresses it’s still not done, but it’s clear Microsoft now has considerable mobile development chops. According to the Building Windows 8 blog, IE10 delivers “no compromises,” meaning that the web as you know can be easily and quickly navigated without a keyboard and mouse, without the abstraction of a “mobile” site layer. This all seems a little old-hat, considering Apple and Google’s respective tablets, but for Microsoft, this is somewhat fresh and new, and for a whole world of users who never saw the appeal in the iPad or Android tablets, Windows 8 with IE10 could capture a considerable market, one that might include your grandma.
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