Microsoft Pushes IE10 Updates to Windows 7

By Craig Buckler
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If you’re one of the 50% of PC users with Windows 7, be prepared for an essential update coming your way. Internet Explorer 9 has been officially retired to make way for IE10. The new browser will be installed as part of the standard Windows Update unless you explicitly prevent it (please don’t!)

It’s an important milestone for web developers. While IE9 was a radical step up from IE8, it was missing features we take for granted in Safari, Firefox, Chrome and Opera: CSS3 gradients, text shadows, animations, transitions, column layouts, flexbox, ECMAScript strict mode, media query listeners, the file API, web workers, local storage, etc. IE10 plugs many of the HTML5 gaps.

There’s another vital feature in IE10: automated updates. While Microsoft are yet to use it, IE10 can receive smaller incremental tweaks over time. I’m not expecting a Chrome or Firefox-like six-week delivery schedule, but two or three times per year would be significantly better than the current 18-24 month delay.

IE9 is likely to die rapidly especially since system administrators will not experience the upgrade issues which dogged previous versions. It will remain the default browser on Vista but the OS currently holds 6% of the PC market and is dropping fast.

IE6 and IE7 are dead. They still roam zombie-like across certain sectors of the web but, for most of us, the days of IE-specific hacks and fixes are long gone.

The IE8 Problem

Which leaves us with IE8. The browser holds 10% of the market and is the only version available for Windows XP which is used by one quarter of PC users. Many have stated that IE8 is the next IE6 (including me), but I’ve recently revised my pessimistic opinion…

  • It depends on the statistics you believe, but competition from Google has changed the market. Chrome can be installed on XP, is advertised throughout Google’s ecosystem and light years ahead of IE8.
  • IE8 usage is dropping by 0.5% per month. If the trend continues, it will hold just 5-6% of the market by the end of 2013.
  • IE8 may not support HTML5, CSS3, SVG or media queries but it has few of issues we had to deal with in IE6 and 7. Your site will be missing rounded corners and drop-shadows, but the HTML5 shim will fix the majority of layout problems. It may not be pretty, but your site should work.
  • IE8 is two versions old. Version numbers rarely matter to developers but it’s an important psychological gap for your clients.

It would have been great had Microsoft released a version of IE10 for XP and Vista but it’s probably not worth the effort. IE8 will die a natural death regardless of Microsoft’s aging OS platforms.

But let’s look at the positives: IE10 does much to catch up with the competition. It’s taken too long to arrive but I hope it becomes the most dominant version of IE within a few short months.

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  • IE8’s lifetime is tied to that of Windows XP, which will (finally) get buried next spring. Until then, IE8 numbers (on my sites) are still a little too high to ignore (>10%). All the same, still hoping that the IE8 numbers take a dive this year as more Windows 8 systems come into play. Even IE9 would be a good baseline, 10 better yet.

  • Great news, that MS finally changes over to automatic (or almost automatic) updates. This is really great leap forward for web-developers.

    Apart from that I don’t think that IE8 is that bad – actually it’s pretty good in my eyes. It has pseudo-elements, many advanced selectors and there aren’t many things that need to be fixed explicitly for IE8 – to be exact just opacity, everything else works just fine or can be progressively enhanced pretty easy.

    • I agree — I’ve not experienced major issues in IE8. The trouble only starts if you add dozens of shims to try and implement missing functionality such as rounded corners or SVGs. Don’t bother: the HTML5 shim and decent fallback solutions are all you should need.

  • Bob

    Latest Windows 7 updates broke the internet in a lot of ways. Rolling it back. Fail.

    • “Broke the internet”?! It seems fine to me! What happened?

      • Susan Bellomo

        The latest Windows 7 update included an optional update for Internet Exploder 10. I had to uninstall IE10, and it wasn’t in the Control Panel. Update History and Delete got rid of the nasty little bugger.

  • Kevin

    Latest update has destroyed our access to email (including hotmail account!), on-line banking, virus update sites (as I thought it was a virus to start with) and many other regular sites – a total disaster by Microsoft. I can see possible massive legal action to follow, certainly won’t be great for Microsofts reputation and share price – as already seems to be the case.

    Anybody remember the X-Box lock out fiasco of millions of users that they initially tried to deny until BBC Watchdog got on the case?

    • Hotmail has changed to — is that the issue? As for banking sites, well, there’s a strong possibility they’re browser sniffing and rejecting an “unknown” browser. They shouldn’t but many do. Are other sites OK?

  • Chris Dennick

    The IE 10 Roll Out is a disaster. It’s listed as an important update, instead of as an optional update, which is ridiculous. Of course, in Microsoft’s infinite wisdom, they find it necessary to reset security settings when their new browser installs, which breaks tons of things, including the ability to use Microsoft’s own tech support system. Oh the irony, Microsoft has removed the ability to open support ticket over the phone, requiring the use of their web interface to open these tickets, yet even with the help of a Microsoft tech on the phone the web interface does not work in IE.

    Also, as a web developer, trying to make changes to a web site and testing on the live site to see if the changes pushed down properly, is an exercise in futility with IE 10. IE 10 does not let go of cached pages no matter how many times you click the refresh button, press F5, or go into IE settings and manually clear the cache.

    Avoid IE at all costs. Microsoft will never get this browser right and they need to leave the browser market completely. With as much as a disaster as Windows 8 is for the business world, they could definitely use the extra man power gained by dissolving the IE team and merging it with the Windows team.

  • Steve Kibbey

    Since the automatic update I am experiencing problems with many websites, including at times Xfinity email. I will definitely get rid of IE 10 as soon as I find time. For now, I simply switch to Chrome when Xfinity email gets stuck, and then it loads immediately.

  • Ken McInnes

    Problems already with IE10: img height=”auto” is treated as height=”0″ img does not show :-(

  • rJack

    I think liking IE10 was a little premature. I just built a couple new sites that look good on Firefox, Chrome, IE9 using WIndows7. I had my client say yesterday that she just bought a new computer which forces her to have Window 8 and IE10.
    They are both WordPress sites, one that has content and the other ( using a different site builder program) has nothing for content, just a slider on the homepage as I’m just starting to build it out.
    Both sites on her new computer are skewed and are missing content, sidebars and have odd colour combinations. They look great to me on IE9 windows 7.

    Honestly, IE has always been a nightmare browser for developers from the get go. Unfortunately, IE is a default browser when someone purchases a new computer and most inexperienced people stick with it until someone with knowledge tells them to smarten up and use some other browser.

    What a great world it would be if there the demise of IE.

  • Charles

    I spent the better part of a week trying to figure out why my wife suddenly couldn’t log on to her company’s SBS2008 RWW. She hadn’t installed any new software, it just stopped working. Turns out, IE 10 breaks this as well. It can be fixed by using “Compatibility Mode”, but it had been working fine for years and since I wasn’t notified about the upgraded browser, I would have no way of knowing that I should even try that. What a disaster. Why was this POS released as an important update?

  • Senequita

    After downloading IE10 for Windows & (replacing IE9), it was no longer possible to attach any files to Outlook/Hotmail emails – very ironic that Microsoft can’t design software that works with its own programs, but not surprising, given Microsoft’s disgraceful history of replacing old defects with new ones with each revision of its software. Trying to get rid of IE10 and put back a version of IE 9 that would work was quite a chore, no thanks to Microsoft’s dishonest and misleading “Support” web page. The best help I got was from Norton’s support chat that was able to fix problems created by the reinstallation of IE 9 with my Norton Internet Security software. I would stay away from IE 10 – who knows what other bugs lay waiting to ruin your day?

  • kenneth buslepp

    IE 10 does not allow me to open several of the sites that I log into, including my E-mail. I could open some of them by setting the compatibility view in tools but that did not work on all of the sites (seems like it should have). Go into the updates and uninstall it (everything is now fine as I’m back in IE9). Typical Microsoft validation process that lets the customer do all their testing.

  • Chris

    As many others above have discovered, IE10 is crawling with bugs. It’s off of my system now, and won’t get a sniff until it proves itself elsewhere.

    If web developers want IE10 on my desktop so badly, then you’d better use whatever suasion you have with Microsoft, to get them to deliver quality.

  • Olivia

    Most websites look fine when I use IE10 on Windows 7 but when I am using IE10 on Windows 8 some websites have big chunks of content missing. Microsoft is once again hard at work to break the Web. Shame on you Microsoft for pushing these buggy web browsers on people and continuing to make the web developers’ lives a nightmare. IE10 sucks.

  • Zambo

    Ditched it almost immediately. Blank page on calling up Facebook messages and on new tabs. I tried changing new tab to home page, but it went back to blank. Not sure if cooincidence but just after the update I was hijacked by the dreaded Claro search crap.

  • terryb

    Automatic update of Internet explorer last night on close down. Tried to go in to the internet today. No luck. IE wouldn’t start. Have ditched so called improved ie and gone back to IE9

  • Scott

    Not liking IE10 so far. It’s creating problems with my desktop. If I open a browser before I open the folder I want to work in it will not open off the desktop. Browsers work fine. Have to shut down and do a restart to open a folder off the desktop. Frustrating.

  • Hazel

    I hate IE 10 it has totally ruined my whole experience and use of my computer. I am trying to download IE9 but not sure it will work, I seem to have suddenly got a really really slow computer after the IE10 installation which I didn’t want. The taskbar at the bottom on IE10 is just blank and there’s not direct link to the desktop. In order to see my desktop taskbar items pinned there I have to minimise all my sites. There is no immediate view odf what tabs I have up. when I try to click on the up arrow to scroll up it disappears to allow the -minimise x bar to show. This is so frustrating and I’ve only had it one night. I hate IE10 what have you done MS giving me this rubbish and focing it onto my computer????

  • Bill Gordon

    Since the IE10 upgrade(?) I can no longer open files attachments (PPT. DOC, XLS, PDF, etc) from my email. I have to save them to disc first and then open them from the saved file. What a P.I.A.

  • Bill

    I could no longer use some web pages with IE10. I also found that I could no longer load attachments with Gmail. I did some research and found a possible workaround (it was a flash issue). But when I attempted to make the suggested change in Gmail, that account option no longer even existed once IE 10 was installed. I did a system restore and everything went back to normal. I turned off automatic updates and refuse to download IE 10.