Microsoft courts developers and enterprises with Internet Explorer 11 updates

New updates for Internet Explorer 11 are included with the Windows 8.1 Update and will be pushed out to Windows 7 users next week as well. A key change is Enterprise Mode IE, which eases compatibility hassles with old internal web apps. And there's good news on the HTML 5 front.

The new IE Platform Status page offers detailed information on standards support for Microsoft's browser

Almost lost in the flurry of announcements from Microsoft today are some interesting details about updates to Internet Explorer 11.

The Windows 8.1 Update, available for MSDN and TechNet subscribers today and rolling out next week via Windows Update, includes significant changes to the Internet Explorer 11 interface, including making the address bar and tabs visible persistently in the modern (Metro) flavor of IE. The new browser bits also contain improved support for HTML 5 features and (according to Microsoft) better performance. Developers will also find improvements in the F12 debugging tools.

Windows 7 users will also get these IE 11 updates via Windows Update, beginning next week.

One of the most important changes in Internet Explorer 11 won’t be visible immediately after you install or deploy the Windows 8.1 Update. Enterprise Mode IE has to be turned on by an administrator, typically by enabling a Group Policy setting and providing a list of URLs to be handled differently. When Enterprise Mode is on, sites on that list are rendered as if the user were viewing them in Internet Explorer 8.

As the name suggests, Enterprise Mode is mostly intended for use on corporate networks with internal web apps that were developed years ago and choke on modern browsers. Those sites should have fewer problems with this option enabled.

And effective today, Microsoft is also introducing an addition to its website, designed to address concerns from Web developers who are skeptical of the company’s commitment to modern web standards.

The new IE Platform Status page lists current Web technologies and standards and allows curious developers to filter the list and see whether the standard is complete or in progress, and more importantly whether Microsoft is currently supporting the standard, has committed to support, or is still evaluating. The site’s in beta now, with a final release expected in a couple months.


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