The touch-first environment of Windows 8 (later 8.1) is such a big leap from previous versions of Windows that many PC users chose to stick with Windows 7 (according to Net Applications, Windows 7 is installed on almost half of all PCs in operation today). Microsoft isn’t leaving those holdouts behind, though: Windows 7 users will enjoy the benefits of Internet Explorer 11, starting on Thursday.
Microsoft also says IE11 has more effective security tools, citing statistics from NSS Labs. In a recent study, the information security company said IE blocks 92% of malware and phishing attacks. Google Chrome was the next highest at 71%, with Safari and Firefox way behind at 37% and 35%, respectively.
Internet Explorer users on Windows 7 will now also benefit from the expanded standards of version 11. Notably, webGL is supported, giving developers more flexibility to create highly visual sites. IE11 also supports HTML5 drag-and-drop as well as device awareness — so a web developer can create a site that knows the orientation of the device it’s running on.
Microsoft has created an IE11 test site, a hub of links to web pages that showcase the new abilities of its most recent browser. It’s even created an new webGL version of Hover, a capture-the-flag-style game that originally shipped with Windows 95.
“We were approached by a man named Dan Church who was looking to bring Hover back,” Capriotti said. “Dan was a child in the ’90s, and the game was one of the things that drove him to be a software developer. He had worked to re-create the gameplay for the web.”
Users who are already running the IE11 release preview will get the update automatically in the next few weeks, although anyone can manually download and start running it today. For more on what’s behind the version, watch the video below.