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Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 Review
Technology should make our lives easier
• New tab features for easy browsing
• Notifications when add-ons slow the browser
• Pinned sites and jump lists to favorite sites
• Advanced anti-malware and anti-phishing protection
• Lack of add-on choice
• No advanced parental control features
Internet Explorer is an improvement on the previous release, just as 10 was an improvement on 9. The ease of browsing has been greatly improved but it still doesn’t offer a whole lot to tempt back those lured away by the likes of Chrome & Safari.
With the need to fend off competition from a faster-than-ever Firefox and heavily publicized Chrome from search engine giant Google, Internet Explorer hits back with version 11. Is the feature set up to scratch? We checked out IE’s latest innovation.
You need Windows 10, 8, 7 or Vista in order to install Internet Explorer 11. Unlike many other internet browsers, including Firefox, there is no progress bar upon installation and Internet Explorer also requires a reboot after installation.
On a more positive note, Internet Explorer allows you to import bookmarks and settings from other browsers including Firefox and Opera. We found IE to be pretty stable and did not experience any crashes or unexpected restarts. The latest version of IE is also much faster to load and takes less effort on your part.
Tab browsing – While Firefox has Panorama, Internet Explorer gives you the New Tab page, which sets out the sites you visit most often and colors each different type of site for easy identification. You can open closed tabs from here, restart your previous browser session or start an InPrivate browsing session.
If you need to view two websites at the same time, use the Tear-off Tab tool and the Snap tool to display them side-by-side. You can also drag tabs from the browser and pin them directly to the taskbar or to the Start menu. This way, the sites show up as a separate thumbnail and you don’t need to open Internet Explorer to get to them. These favorite sites are added to a Jump List, and you can add further sites to your pinned sites so they all open up together as homepages.
Opening tabs is intuitively done by Internet Explorer – opening one tab from another positions them next to each other and they are color-coded to match in a group. A right-click on the tab group allows you to open and close tabs within the group and see a list of recently closed tabs.
Search box – Address bar and search box are combined into one in this new version. According to Internet Explore, the One Box offers all you need to search and locate sites. AutoComplete suggests websites as you type, and keywords lead to a list of search results. Search suggestions, including visual suggestion, headlines and more, appear in a dropdown list.
Private browsing - This stops the browser from storing any websites you have visited to your history, it also prevents your computer from picking up temporary internet files, cookies, usernames and passwords. Starting an InPrivate browsing session will open up a new browser and closing it will end the private browsing.
Favorites – Organizing favorites is a little clunky compared to Firefox. You need to set up folders and open up the Favorites menu to arrange and delete sites. Adding a site to the Favorites list takes just a few clicks.
History – Delete your whole history or specific sites from the History menu. This is easy to do on Internet Explorer.
Phishing protection – The Internet Explorer SmartScreen Filter screens threats that come from fake websites designed to retrieve your personal information. Microsoft also provides a domain highlighting feature, which turns the URL of the domain name you’re looking at gray. This addition to the phishing set helps improve security.
Malware protection – Internet Explorer also has powerful anti-malware features to prevent potentially harmful software additions from affecting your computer. When a malicious site is detected, IE blocks the entire site. IE also blocks malware or phishing when it is located on pages on otherwise legitimate sites.
Pop-up blocker – The Internet Explorer browser blocks ActiveX controls for all sites, and you have the option to turn them on for sites you trust. There’s also a pop-up blocker function.
Download manager – The Download Manager in Internet Explorer is a handy tool to help manage the files you download from the web. The Download Manager keeps everything from security status to length of download time in the same place and you can easily access the information to check, pause or delete your downloads. The function also works with the SmartScreen Filter and blocks any risky downloads before they cause harm.
Add-ons – Internet Explorer doesn’t offer the range of add-ons that Firefox gives. The browser does help manage the add-ons you get from anywhere on the web. IE controls the add-ons you install by telling you which ones are slowing your browser down. This information is revealed in the notification bar and you can disable or use them as you see fit.
RSS Reader – You can subscribe to feeds directly from Internet Explorer, or use feed reader software.
Developer tools – Unlike some browsers, Internet Explorer comes with developer tools built in. These useful additions include showing pages in different rendering engines in order to show developers how to debug and understand browser differences.
Video & audio HTML 5 support - Internet Explorer provides a package of full hardware acceleration that works for text and graphics as well as video. This is provided by default.
Ease of use
We think Internet Explorer 11 is simple and intuitive to use, and there are some useful improvements on the older versions. Search and address bars are combined, menus are combined, and the Back button is bigger. All of the notifications you receive from Internet Explorer show up in the Notification Bar, so you’re not surprised by dialog boxes. The instructions are clearer, too.
Help & support
Support for Internet Explorer is pretty comprehensive. There is a free support telephone number for American and Canadian customers. Free support is however limited to installation, set-up and usage only. There is an excellent step-by-step user guide and an online discussion group where you can post questions or queries.
Microsoft has addressed just about all of the major concerns that users had with its previous version and despite the increased competition, it’s definitely done enough to earn its position as the world's most used internet browser.
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