The Internet Explorer 10 Experiment: Days 4 & 5

On 16 January 2013, I posted the introduction to this new experiment of mine: give Internet Explorer another chance by using Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8 as my primary browser for fourteen days, documenting what I love, what I hate, and what makes me generally say "meh". These are my thoughts from days four and five of my experience.

I Can Really Put My Finger on It

The past couple days have been primarily focused on the touch experience and the Modern UI version of Internet Explorer as a whole. I have to say, the Modern UI version of Internet Explorer 10 has been by far my best experience with any tablet web browser.

Is the Modern UI version of Internet Explorer 10 perfect? No. Definitely not—it still has some odd quirks, but the fact that I’d rather stream Internet Explorer 10 to my Motorola Xoom via Splashtop Remote rather than use Chrome, Firefox, or the default browser on Android certainly says something. It could say that my Xoom is a decrepit dinosaur in desperate need of replacement—it could say that Internet Explorer 10 is mind-blowingly fast—and it could say both.

One thing is for sure: Unless Google makes some substantial improvements to their Modern UI version of Chrome—I’ll be using Internet Explorer 10 on my upcoming Surface Pro purchase—and without hesitation.

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While your experience may vary, Internet Explorer 10 has been by far the fastest tablet browser I’ve had the pleasure of using. YouTuber Armando Ferreira—one of my favourite tech YouTubers—has a piece in which he compares the web browsing experience on the Google Nexus 10 and the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT. While in many regards the video focuses heavily on how the tablets themselves handle the web browsing experience, you can get a clear picture of just how zippy Modern UI Internet Explorer 10 truly is.

Everything in regard to speed and fluidity Internet Explorer 10 in the Modern UI really is smooth sailing. A feature I discovered accidentally was the ability to flick right or left to go forward and backward in a tab. This makes activities like reading through the forums here on The Verge much easier compared to using Google Chrome for Android.

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Favourites Are a Mess in the Modern UI

Not all is smooth sailing, however. As with the desktop version of Internet Explorer 10, the Modern UI version has a couple of interesting quirks. Admittedly, they are far fewer in number, but a couple really stand out.

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Favourites in Internet Explorer are generally not as clean and organized as they can be in other browsers. The best (worst) example of this is perhaps the fact that Internet Explorer 10 in the Modern UI doesn’t know how to handle folders. Instead of keeping them grouped together or making them tap-to-expand-enabled, the browser simply dumps all of the bookmarks into one large chain. When you’re like me, you have a tendency to keep a couple of different folders in a cluster on your favourites bar, stuffed to the brim with articles you need to read for school, stuff you need to read later, and things you need to check-up on fairly regularly.

This, for me, is probably the biggest strike against Internet Explorer 10 in the Modern UI. Surely Microsoft’s obviously talented design team could have come-up with a more effective, user-friendly means of handling "foldered" favourites?

Where Have All My Good Tabs Gone—and Where are All the Goods?

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While the handling of "foldered favourites" is certainly bothersome, another thing almost as offensive to me is how Internet Explorer 10 handles tabs when you exceed ten.

It closes them. Silently. Without telling you.

Had a big response typed-up in a tab? Poof. Gone. Aren’t you lucky that’s the tab that Internet Explorer decided to close. I understand the need (or desire) to keep the tabs "bar" as clutter-free as possible whilst still remaining some semblance of touch- and user-friendliness, but this is just a joke.

Now, I’m no expert, but I have to say, surely there could be some way to handle these tabs better. Perhaps create a "frozen tabs" cluster that allows users to see that they have other tabs available. Every ten tabs could create a cluster until the tab bar has say—five clusters (that would leave space for five tabs still)—or something—tell the user that a tab will be closed because they have too many open—but do not just make the older tabs "automagically" disappear.

Flash – A Worm-Ridden Apple

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Speaking of things that "automagically" disappear. Flash. Yeah, there is a good handful of sites on which Internet Explorer 10 will permit you to view Flash content—but where is the toggle setting that will allow me to enable Flash for all websites? Why cannot not switch between "Always enable Flash content", "Limit Flash content", and "Never allow Flash content" in the settings pane for Internet Explorer 10 in Metro?

Yeah, it’s true that when Internet Explorer encounters Flash content, it handles it remarkably well, but the imposed limits on what is viewable are frustrating to say the least.

Sites on the Start Screen – Still Clumsy

I thought that maybe—just maybe I was being overly critical of pinning sites to start in one of my previous reports. What use is that? I thought. Really, once you’re past that initial jump into the browser, why should you ever be going back to the Start Screen except to actually launch another application. Internet Explorer 10 in the Modern UI still has a favourites bar—even if it’s not perfect. Additionally—and this is a bit silly, too—pinning websites to the Start Screen also pins them to your favourites bar in Modern UI Internet Explorer 10. Why? Why can’t I just choose a few select sites or pages to pin without them needed to be pinned to the Start Screen, too?

Yes, I realise that technically, adding and page to the favourites bar is basically the same as pinning it—but it really isn’t—not when you have hundreds of favourites to rummage through.

Final Thoughts for Days Four and Five

Internet Explorer 10 in the Modern UI is still the best browser I’ve ever used on a tablet to date—even with its oddities. With a few small changes, it would basically be perfect.

What Should I Focus on for Tomorrow?

I've focused pretty heavily on the touch experience with Internet Explorer 10 in the Modern UI. What are other aspects of browser usage at which I should take a closer look for tomorrow’s report?

Also in this Series

The Internet Explorer 10 Experiment: Day 0

The Internet Explorer 10 Experiment: Day 1

The Internet Explorer 10 Experiment: Day 2

The Internet Explorer 10 Experiment: Day 3

The Internet Explorer 10 Experiment: Days 6 & 7