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Apple abandoned it, and so should you
The last time Apple updated its Safari browser for Windows desktops was in May 2012, and that was just a minor housekeeping patch. Apple left Windows users behind when it introduced Safari 6 for Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, and while the Cupertino outfit hasn’t explicitly stated Safari will never make a return to Microsoft’s OS, there’s little reason to believe it will. Safari was never able to carve out a significant share of the browser market anyhow, though both NetMarketShare and StatCounter agree that there are more web surfers on Safari than Opera, so leaving Windows users behind might not have been the best long-term decision.
Though Apple has turned a blind eye to Windows users, the latest version of Safari is still available to download. Prior to abandonment, Safari’s Reading List feature alone was reason to consider the browser. What it does is let you save web pages you don’t have time to read and return to them later, online or offline. Think of it as a temporary bookmarks feature that self-destructs once you’ve brought up a saved page.
Safari Reader is another element of the browser we liked. It strips web pages to the bare essentials, removing most ads and preventing pop-ups.
Safari blocks third-party cookies by default, a feature that’s found in the browser’s Privacy panel. It also contains an option to remove all website data with a couple of mouse clicks. In the same panel is an option to limit website access to location services. Some websites use information about your location to enable certain features and services, but if you’d rather keep that information private, you can disable it altogether or be prompted when a website requests your whereabouts.
Click the Reader button in the address bar to de-clutter noisy websites and side-step pop-up ads.
An old browser reborn and bred for Windows 8
It wouldn’t make sense for Microsoft to rebuild Windows without also revamping the parts that integrate with it, and so what we have in Internet Explorer 11 is a vastly different browser compared to previous releases. Yes, it will probably be available for Windows 7 by the time you read this, but it’s really intended to complement the vision Microsoft set out for Windows 8, which includes a heavy dose of touch interaction and interoperability across a range of Windows devices and screen sizes.
While the version we’re testing is a Preview release, it’s very close to what the final build will be like, unlike an early beta, which could be missing key features and/or suffer from stability issues.
When firing it up from the Start screen, IE11 looks and feels like a brand-new browser rather than an upgrade of an existing one. That’s not really surprising since the same could be said of Windows 8 compared to previous versions. The first thing you’ll notice is that Microsoft moved the address bar to the bottom of the browser. It hides out of view to give you a full-screen browsing experience, though you can bring it back up with a right-click or swipe up from the bottom. If you have a touchscreen, you’ll also use swiping gestures to navigate forward and backward.
Outside of touch controls, the feature we’re most excited about is side-by-side browsing. While Windows 8 insists on running applications in full-screen mode, the side-by-side feature in IE11 allows you to view multiple websites at the same time, and you can resize the width of each one. This is handy for comparison shopping, among other uses.
We’re only scratching the surface here. Microsoft lifted the limit of open tabs from 10 to 100 per window, which appear as scrollable tiles just above the address bar. Non-active tabs are suspended so they don’t drag down your PC’s performance or adversely affect battery life. Microsoft also implemented hardware-accelerated 3D web graphics through WebGL, plug-in-free HTML5 video support, and the ability to pin websites as live tiles on the Start screen—phew!
By default, IE11 turns on Enhanced Protected Mode (EPM), which only allows compatible add-ons like toolbars, browser helper objects (BHOs), and extensions to load. Furthermore, EPM shoves untrusted web content into a restricted environment sort of like a sandbox.
Instead of letting WebGL content run wild, it’s put through a pre-screening stage in IE11. It also runs on top of DirectX, so if malicious content bombards the GPU and takes it out, it will reset rather than crash the entire system.
InPrivate browsing mode is still available in IE11, though it’s not obvious when surfing from the Start screen. You can use the keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+Shift+P) or bring up the Tabs menu and press the Tab tools button on the right-hand side.
1. To add a website as a live tile, click the Star icon (Favorites) and then the Pin icon.
2. You can pin the address bar permanently to the bottom of the screen by bringing up the Charms menu (swipe or press Windows Key+C) and selecting Settings > Options. Under the Appearance heading, flip the dial to On.
3. Sites not showing up correctly? Fire up IE11 in Desktop and press Alt. Select Tools > Compatibility View settings.
1) Side-by-side allows you to view multiple pages in separate, resizable Windows.
2) It’s not the least bit obvious, but those three dots designate the Tab tools option. Click or tap to initiate an InPrivate browsing session.
3) You’re no longer limited to just 10 open tabs. In IE11, you can have as many as 100 per window. Equally cool is the preview view of each one, which you can scroll through.
4) Microsoft relocated the address bar to the bottom of the browser where it’s better optimized for touch. Just swipe up from the bottom (or right-click your mouse) to make it appear.
Click the next page to see what our overall pick for best web browser is!