Microsoft releases for download IE11 for Windows 7

Microsoft is starting to push the release-to-Web version of IE11 for Windows 7 to users as of November 7.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is making available for download the release-to-Web (RTW) version of its Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) browser for Windows 7.


The final bits will be downloadable from Microsoft's IE site.

Microsoft made a developer preview of IE11 for Windows 7 available in late July, followed by a consumer preview in mid-September. IE11 already is available as a bundled part of Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1.

November 7 marks the start of the push of IE11 to those Windows 7 users with auto-update turned on. Those with the preview builds will get the final bits first. Others will get them over a matter of weeks.

"Between Windows 7 and Windows 8, 55 percent of desktops can now run IE11," said Rob Mauceri, Partner Group Program Manager for IE.

IE11 for Windows 7 includes many, but not all, of the same features that are in the Windows 8.1 version. Here's what's different:

  • In the Windows 7 version of IE11, the URL bar remains at the top of the browser (like it is with IE10 on Windows 7). IE11 for Windows 8.1 puts the URL bar at the bottom.
  • The new tab view in Windows 8.1 isn't part of the IE11 for Windows 7 release.
  • IE11 on Windows 7 won't support for premium video extensions like the 8.1 version does. "There are many solutions available for Windows 7 customers to stream and view protected content online, those methods will continue to function for customers," a spokesperson confirmed. (Read: Silverlight and Flash.)
  • No support for Google's SPDY protocol (the precursor to HTTP 2.0) in IE11 on Windows 7. IE11 on Windows 8.1 does support SPDY.
  • IE11 on Windows 7 will not support Enhanced Protected Mode browser security enhancements. (IE10 on Windows 7 didn't, either.)

Beyond this, IE11 for Windows 7 and IE 11 for Windows 8.1 are largely the same, according to Microsoft officials.

Like IE11 on Windows 8.1, IE11 on Windows 7 includes support for WebGL. It will natively decode JPG images in real-time on the GPU so that pages load faster, use less memory and help improve battery life and support HTML5 link prefetching and pre-rendering, officials said. IE11 on Windows 7 also It incorporates the same changes to the "Chakra" JavaScript engine, including changes to garbage collection and just-in-time (JIT) compilation as IE11 for Windows 8.1 does, they said.

Microsoft officials declined to comment as to when IE11 will be available on Windows Phone. Windows Phone 8 includes IE10.

Administrators who don't want IE11 to be pushed automatically to users running Windows 7 SP1 and/or Windows Server 2008 R2 and later can download Microsoft's blocking tool to prevent this action. The blocking tool has no expiration date.

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