Microsoft offers touchscreen improvements for IE11 on Windows 8.1

Microsoft launched the first public version of Internet Explorer 11 as part of the Windows 8.1 preview release in June, and the new version of the browser contains a number of changes and improvements that have been made specifically for users who interact with it via a touchscreen, as touted in a blog post Thursday.

In the new blog post, Microsoft said that one of the changes concerns the use of hover menus on some websites, which have been designed to be used by a mouse. IE11 lets users with a touchscreen hover a finger over the menu to show its selections and tap on one of those choices to go to the designed site. You can see how this works in the video above.

The blog adds:

In addition to touch hover support, a new context menu command bar now appears at the bottom of the screen when you press and hold on a link. This allows for the command bar to display without interfering with the site’s hover menu if there is one. You can also quickly open pages in a new tab or window by accessing the buttons in the command bar.

IE11 also has put in better highlights to web URL links when a finger is pressed on them in a touchscreen PC or tablet, so users can better see the interaction with that link.

The new version also improves on navigation between webpages compared to IE10, where swiping a finger across the page would take the site to the previous or next page. IE11 suspends and caches the previous page in memory so when a user goes back to that page, it should resume instantaneously. In the cases where some pages cannot be put into memory, IE11 uses pre-render technology to speed up the loading process.

IE11 is also the first browser that natively supports touchscreens for the HTML 5 drag-and-drop specification. The support allows IE11 users to press and hold elements in a website that uses the HTML 5 drag-and-drop code with their finger. It also supports Microsoft's Pointer Events specifications, which allow for sites to support a number of different pointing devices, including multi-touch, pen and mouse hardware.

Source: Microsoft | Images via Microsoft

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38 Comments

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I use Chrome but if IE11 supported the Adblock add-in and allowed you to sync your bookmarks, saved passwords, form entry data etc the same way Chrome does, I might just convert. Oh, and a import your Chrome account to IE would be pretty sweet.

Has anyone seen someone use Internet explorer on a desktop touch screen? I have and they look ridiculous. You can tell its not ergonomic as they have to raise their arms while bending forward unnaturally. Works fine on a tablet and phone however.

If they're on a desktop why arent they using a keyboard and mouse, since according to desktop users that is the only way to use a PC?

JHBrown said,
Has anyone seen someone use Internet explorer on a desktop touch screen? I have and they look ridiculous. You can tell its not ergonomic as they have to raise their arms while bending forward unnaturally. Works fine on a tablet and phone however.
Nice try.

DBrandUSA said,
Nice try.
Nice try at what? A buddy's wife has a touch monitor desktop thingy from HP I believe. Windows 8 is still not polished enough for the touch screen. It was like she was confused. Going from the screen to the keyboard to the mouse. It was an ugly picture!

Lol... hey at least it's an option, boot straight to desktop.


JHBrown said,
Nice try at what? A buddy's wife has a touch monitor desktop thingy from HP I believe. Windows 8 is still not polished enough for the touch screen. It was like she was confused. Going from the screen to the keyboard to the mouse. It was an ugly picture!

As a Windows Phone user (on a Lumia 920), I'm glad they are being proactive about fixing hover menu usage. This has been a problem for a while, on many websites.

Needs an option to remove the desktop. (turn off/on windows features in the add/remove programs prompt)

It'd be interesting to have the desktop system go fully metro. I definitely don't want the kids to go about installing exe files, so I create a limited account. Plus all their favorite games are available on metro apps. It'd be a great thing for the kiddies.

Izlude said,
Needs an option to remove the desktop. (turn off/on windows features in the add/remove programs prompt)

It'd be interesting to have the desktop system go fully metro. I definitely don't want the kids to go about installing exe files, so I create a limited account. Plus all their favorite games are available on metro apps. It'd be a great thing for the kiddies.

Un-pin the tile.

MrHumpty said,
Un-pin the tile.
Yeah, but if one of the users didn't know about the Desktop and accidentally got there, he'd be really confused on how to get back. I suppose a wallpaper describing to click the Start button would help with this.

Mulsivaas said,
Yeah, but if one of the users didn't know about the Desktop and accidentally got there, he'd be really confused on how to get back. I suppose a wallpaper describing to click the Start button would help with this.
While I agree to a point... after the first time they'd have no problem getting back. Aside from that a user is prompted on first log in to swipe from any side... adding the start "button" back may help with your issue though. I agree the "tutorial" aspect of this new UI was completely ignored by MS. Every desktop and Start Menu should have a "learn how to use Windows 8" tutorial.

Tom Chapman said,
You got a problem with something on the desktop?

Yes, the desktop needs a better way of finding programs. Something like a menu that should pop up when you press the start button.

startscreennope said,
MS should improve desktop functionality if they ever want Win 8 sales to take off. Seems like they're all fixated on touch instead.

Nice trolling.

spy beef said,

Yes, the desktop needs a better way of finding programs. Something like a menu that should pop up when you press the start button.

A menu does pop up. It's full screen, and has lively tiles that aggregate information for you.

amnesia- said,

Nice trolling.

Folks, here's a classic example of a member calling another member a troll just because he doesn't like Windows 8.

Note to all troll police officers: The world is allowed different opinions and this world does not rotate based on your taste or Microsofts taste.

Dot Matrix said,

A menu does pop up. It's full screen, and has lively tiles that aggregate information for you.

A fullscreen launcher is unproductive for a supposed multitasking desktop OS.

startscreennope said,
A fullscreen launcher is unproductive for a supposed multitasking desktop OS.
I find it more productive, now I have debunked your theory.

JHBrown said,
Folks, here's a classic example of a member calling another member a troll just because he doesn't like Windows 8.

Note to all troll police officers: The world is allowed different opinions and this world does not rotate based on your taste or Microsofts taste.

Folks here is a classic I'm calling you a troll police when in fact I am the comment police pointing things out.

It's so simple, just press the windows key and start typing, like windows 7. 8.1 removes the need to select what you are searching for.

JHBrown said,
Folks, here's a classic example of a member calling another member a troll just because he doesn't like Windows 8.

Note to all troll police officers: The world is allowed different opinions and this world does not rotate based on your taste or Microsofts taste.

What you say Is true 100%. However, this isn't an article on Windows 8 but on Ie11 that happens to run on Windows 8. And whether you like it or not, Microsoft has decided that Touch should be a fist class citizen in Windows. Now if you don't like it, walk with your feet.

Of course for me (somebody that actually likes the direction Windows 8 is going) I find it a bit strange that on each topic that addresses Windows 8 (or IE11 in this case) I see people (often the same people) complain about the lack of a start menu, or the inclusion of touch or some other gripes. I mean, I don't understand why these people continue to complain about something they don't like.

If I don't like say OSX, you don't see me complaining about it each chance I get, I would not even comment on it, as I don't care about it. Now if this constant complaining is done in hopes Microsoft will put the startmenu back (just an example), than it doesn't take a genius to realise this will never happen.

OSX and iOS are completely different OSes. Apple wasn't dumb or desperate enough to shoehorn them both together in some inefficient and unproductive touch amalgamation aka Windows 8.

Telling customers not to buy your product and insulting them. You must really want MS to fail hard, or even harder than they've already been failing.

startscreennope said,
OSX and iOS are completely different OSes. Apple wasn't dumb or desperate enough to shoehorn them both together in some inefficient and unproductive touch amalgamation aka Windows 8.

Just to be clear. Are you trying to say that you don't like Windows 8?

startscreennope said,
OSX and iOS are completely different OSes. Apple wasn't dumb or desperate enough to shoehorn them both together in some inefficient and unproductive touch amalgamation aka Windows 8.

Telling customers not to buy your product and insulting them. You must really want MS to fail hard, or even harder than they've already been failing.

So now I need to carry a laptop and a tablet to have both touch functionality and so I can use my business critical applications? That makes perfect sense from a sales point; you work for Apple?

spy beef said,

Something like a menu that should pop up when you press the start button.

WIN + S

Problem solved. Next problem please!

Its interesting that you mention osx & ios - I would argue that both are dumbed down. When compared to a Win7 or Win8 PC, web on ios is not even 2nd Class citizen. Many many sites are completely broken and navigation just does not work, and contents are not rendered. As for OSX, how is that any better than Win7. Some people sadly are bitching here because IE11 adds features and wants the web to be as good on tablet as it is on the desktop.

I just click Start and type the program I want to find immediately. Works fine for me. And I think you can make the Start menu show the complete menu of apps in 8.1?

You are correct, Microsoft is fixated on touch--to the almost total exclusion of all other attributes for a successful OS. Oh well, their loss.

TsarNikky said,
You are correct, Microsoft is fixated on touch--to the almost total exclusion of all other attributes for a successful OS. Oh well, their loss.
If you don't feel like using Windows 8, it's actually your loss. It's not their loss, because I and millions of others use and/or love Windows 8/8.1

spy beef said,

Yes, the desktop needs a better way of finding programs. Something like a menu that should pop up when you press the start button.

You mean like, the start menu?