Internet Explorer 11 review

Internet Explorer 11 review: The default Windows web browser is a solid update of an old classic

Internet Explorer 11 is the most used PC web browser in the world, but is it any good? We find out in our Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 review. (Also see: All software reviews.)

Just before the end of 2014, Internet Explorer 11 was crowned the most used PC browser in the world, taking over from the previous incumbent IE8. Whereas this might suggest it is also the most popular, that might not be the actual truth, as a good deal of its dominance can be put down to the fact that is the default application in current versions of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1. Of course it can’t be all that bad if so many people rely on it every day, and the current iteration of Microsoft’s long-standing platform is as polished as it’s ever been.

When you launch the browser you’re greeted with a short search/URL bar at the top left of the screen, any open tab to the right, and little else in terms of menus. This means the web content is afforded the vast majority of the space, which is a welcome refinement from the toolbar heavy designs in the past. If you prefer to add a little more functionality though, right-clicking on the top of the screen brings up a contextual menu from with you can select which toolbars to display – favourites, menu etc. It’s also easy to import your bookmarks from other browsers, such as Chrome, by clicking on the Star icon then selecting the dropdown menu and clicking on the import options. (Also see: How to delete cookies and browsing history.)

The process is quick and means you can switch between browsers with little interruption to your workflow. This can also be augmented by dragging an open tab to the Windows taskbar where it will be pinned, just like a normal application. So now you can go directly to your favourites without even launching IE. There are also several add-ons available, such as Flash and Google Maps, but the ecosystem lacks some of the helpful additions available on the likes of Firefox and Chrome.

Privacy is a hot topic at the moment, and IE11 has some useful built-in features to help you remain anonymous online. As has become standard on modern browsers, IE11 has a private browsing mode (InPrivate) that doesn’t store web history or cookies, although you should remember that your ISP can still see where you’re going. There is also a Do Not Track feature enabled by default, and a more powerful Tracking Protection List to ensure that advertisers keep their hands off your data. Smartscreen is another security feature that analyses sites you visit in order to warn you if they feature malware or could be phishing for data. It’s not fool proof, but a handy addition.

While this stripped down version of IE is solid and neat, it still lagged behind Chrome, Opera and Firefox in our benchmark tests, making it mid-level in terms of performance, but pleasant to use none the less.

Read next: Best browsers for Windows and best alternative web browsers

Internet Explorer 11: Specs

  • Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Phone
  • Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Phone

OUR VERDICT

With a few nips and tucks over previous versions, Internet Explorer is in fine fettle now with a clean design, robust performance, and ever improving security features.

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