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Build 2013: Internet Explorer 11 Preview Embraces Touch-First Browsing

Related: "Microsoft Build 2013: More Development Opportunities with Windows 8.1"

At Microsoft's Build 2013 developer conference in San Francisco, the company announced that the Internet Explorer (IE) 11 Preview is now available in conjunction with the availability of Windows 8.1. The latest version of IE focuses on creating better touch optimization and an improved browsing experience.

Arguing that today's web browsing is an underwhelming experience for users, Microsoft stated that the company saw the need to address consumer's increasing demands for a better UX with their touch devices.

"They want an experience on the web that is rich, easy, and lets them get done what they need to do fast and without frustration," Microsoft explained. With this said, the company developed IE 11 in hopes that its touch-friendly features will cater toward improved tablet browsing and development.

Microsoft noted that today's users prefer apps over a smartphone browser because the current browsing experience for most devices is limited and not fully developed for the user's needs.

"Touch is the new fast," the company wrote to urge developers to think carefully about the UX when developing for web applications. IE 11's UI uses new, innovative features such as flip ahead (a tool that guesses the full text being input to allow faster browsing) and multi-touch support to create a "touch-first" experience.

Furthermore, IE 11 addresses a growing concern among developers. "Developers are increasingly frustrated by the app platform fragmentation occurring across devices, as they now have to support many different platforms," Microsoft said. IE 11 fixes this problem because it works across multiple platforms, supporting a standards-based web.

"Consumer demand bears out that people want touch screens and expect things such as browsing to work well on these devices," Microsoft said. "We want both the web and apps to be truly first-class citizens, not forcing users to download an app but giving them the full web they expect."

With Microsoft's focus for this release in mind, here are our top features that are in the IE 11 Preview:

Better browser touch responsiveness and battery life on Windows devices. IE 11 provides "stick to your finger" touch responsiveness by using the GPU to process gestures such as panning, zooming, and swiping to navigate through different browser pages. GPU-offloaded image decoding enhances battery life and lets the CPU process dynamic page content.

Tabs bar located at bottom of screen. Designed to be more easily accessible for your thumbs, the tabs bar has been moved to the bottom of the UI. The tabs bar shows a sneak peek of the web pages that you already have open and lets users swipe the tabs in and out. The new location also makes sure that your hands don't cover up important parts of the page such as search boxes or menus.

New tab functionality. IE 11 lets users have up to 100 tabs opened per browser window that won't slow down your connection speed. IE manages tabs so that tabs that haven't been used in a while don't eat up battery life or clog your system's processing power. Thumbnail previews let users switch between tabs with greater confidence and accuracy.

Create live site tiles in the Windows 8.1 Start screen. Pinned sites can be posted on to the start screen in tiles that actively pull data from your website. IE 11 uses background notifications for new messages, updates, and other activities from the website straight to the tile on your Start screen.

High quality video production on the web. Your video content can look as good as the professionals because IE 11 supports plugin-free HTML5 video with the latest standards for closed captioning and streaming that adapts to available network bandwidth and rights management.  Using power-efficient video streaming, Windows 8.1 extends battery life for web videos.

See Microsoft's IE 11 announcement to learn more about the latest version of IE.  To stay up-to-date on the latest development news, be sure to check out Dev Pro on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+. Do you have something in mind for me to cover or want to talk about the latest dev trends? Be sure to reach out to me on Twitter by using the handle @SeanMeedsPenton!

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