Following the launch of a developers-only Windows 8 preview on Tuesday, Microsoft delved deeper into the future of its popular web browser. Internet Explorer 10’s third platform preview was also included in the aforementioned build, allowing developers more hands-on time with its unique Metro-style layout. The ultimate goal for IE10, said Stephen Sinofsky, Windows Live president, is a “a truly chromeless browsing experience.”
Dean Hachamovitch, Corporate Vice President of Internet Explorer, detailed the inclusion of a Metro-style browser (seen above) in IE10. The design famously takes its inspiration (.pdf) from the signs and symbols found in modern metro stations.
“Our approach in Windows 8 starts with one great HTML5 browsing engine that powers two different experiences,” wrote Hachamovitch at the Building Windows 8 blog. “The single engine provides strong support for web standards, hardware-accelerated performance, security, privacy, and more. Then, we built two experiences on top of that engine.”
Those two experiences are the newfangled touch-first Metro-style interface, and “a more traditional, current-generation desktop browser with tabs.” The former’s bold typography and strong visual flair is a step towards increased immersion (.PDF) said Microsoft:
The Metro style UI that fuels the clean aesthetic and experience of Internet Explorer puts the emphasis on your favorite sites, not the browser. The navigation bar appears only when you ask for it, and the touch keyboard is intelligently integrated into the browsing experience, with Snap and charms just a swipe away offering quick access to the most common tasks.
Hachamovitch said performance, HTML5 support and safety are the three key factors that define the Metro-style experience.
“Because great HTML5 support on both desktop IE and the Metro style IE is so important, we adapted the IE10 engine’s architecture to power both experiences,” he said. “The two experiences share browsing history, typed addresses, settings, and more. The common engine delivers a consistently fast, safe, and powerful experience for today’s sites as well as Metro style applications.”
Windows 8’s Metro-style browser will also boast website pinning, “charm”-based search and sharing, touch-panning and pinch-to-zoom.
Dismissing potential criticism that the company’s decision to include both browsing options is a mistake, Hachamovitch argued that choice isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “Pessimists may criticize what they will call ‘two browsers,'” he explained. “There’s only one browsing engine, which you can use with two different ‘skins.'”
Hachamovitch believes Metro-style will become the go-to choice for most users, but that people who preferred traditional browsing were certainly not being left in a lurch. “You can set your default to either style, seamlessly switch between them, or use any other browser you choose on Windows 8,” he said.
Do you prefer standard browsers, or love the Metro-themed alternative? Let us know in the comment section.