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Some Thoughts About Web Browsing in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview with IE 10

Microsoft yesterday posted about web browsing in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview to the Building Windows 8 Blog. This was good timing for me since I had just finished, but not yet submitted, my chapter about Internet Explorer 10 for the forthcoming book Windows 8 Secrets. I was curious to see whether I had missed anything.

(Related: I just wrote a Feature Focus article about Internet Explorer 10 Metro.)

The fear, of course, is that Microsoft will change things at some point down the road, or announce some previously unknown new feature that isn't covered in the book. Our goal with Windows 8 Secrets--I'm writing the book with Rafael Rivera--is that it be the definitive guide to Microsoft's new operating system.

So. How did we do?

Really well, actually. I had previously written in Internet Explorer 10 Secrets about the weird interaction between Internet Explorer 10 Metro and other browsers, especially when you configure a different browser as the default. That isn't covered in Microsoft's post at all, which I find odd, though I've noticed since my original IE Secrets post that Microsoft later described this weirdness in Word document called Developing a Metro style enabled desktop browser.

The only glaring issue I noted in the post was that Microsoft had provided new, or at least different, names for a few UI elements. The tab bar is called tab switcher in the post, and the app bar is called the navigation bar.  The new Back and Forward widgets that appear on the app surface--only with a mouse--are referred to as "transport controls." So I made those changes in the chapter, in keeping with my desire to ensure the naming we use is consistent.

(With Windows 8, Microsoft annoyingly refuses to name certain things. And it then goes and renames other things differently down the road. I don't get it and suspect this will be an ongoing issue given the very new nature of Metro. Consider the browser itself. What exactly is the name of the Metro-style version of Internet Explorer? The desktop version? How can one easily differentiate between the two? Microsoft is little help here:"IE10 designed for a Metro style experience" is not a name, it's a description.)

Microsoft's post totally glosses over what I consider to be a very serious issue with IE 10 Metro: Favorites are hidden, with no clear UI for accessing them. We have a good discussion about this in the book. (To see what I mean, search the Microsoft post for the word favorites: According to the post, Favorites appear when you search for a site, which is true, and Favorites can be synced when you roam, also true. But there's no Favorites UI in IE 10 Metro at all. Not surprisingly, this topic comes up in the comments a lot.)

The post didn't answer a few questions I have about Internet Explorer 10. The biggest concerns pinned web sites. As I wrote in Windows 8 Feature Focus: Internet Explorer 10 (Metro), sites you pin to the Windows 7 taskbar (with IE 9) run in a specially colored and differentiated IE window, and not in a regular browser window. But with IE 10 Metro, pinned sites run inside the single IE 10 Metro instance, as tabs alongside whatever other tabs were already open. I suspect sandboxing/security is the reason. But I have to guess because Microsoft hasn't yet responded to my questions about this browser for some reason. I guess that's part of the reason why we have an edit cycle on the book.



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