There are two versions of Internet Explorer 10 in Windows 8—a Metro app and a desktop app. Both share the same rendering engine and, unsurprisingly, perform identically on the same hardware. The only difference is UI, and the fact that Metro’s IE will not run plug-ins like Adobe Flash or Microsoft’s own Silverlight.

To reflect the distinction between the Metro version of IE and the desktop version, both Metro and the desktop retain separate default browser settings—you can run Firefox or Chrome as your default browser on the desktop and stick with IE in Metro, but you can also specify desktop browsers as the default Metro browser, meaning that links clicked in Metro apps like Mail will dump you to the desktop to open rather than stay in the Metro interface. Oddly, if you decide not to use IE as your default Metro browser, the IE completely disappears from Metro, and it takes a trip into the desktop Internet Settings control panel to re-enable it.

The Metro version of IE is a minimalist, touch-centric affair—the address bar is located at the bottom of the screen, and will disappear from view when it’s not being used. While typing in the address bar, IE will display a tiled list of your most frequently visited sites, as well as sites that you have “pinned” using the address bar’s pin button—these pinned sites will also show up on the Start screen. The address bar also has the requisite Back, Forward, and Refresh buttons, as well as a Tools button that will let you search the current page or open the page in the desktop version of IE (the desktop version contains no such button to open pages in Metro mode, at least for now).

The most consistent way to bring up the address bar on a PC is by using the Windows + Z keyboard shortcut that we discussed earlier, which will also bring up Metro IE’s tab interface, which displays big, clickable thumbnails of all your open tabs. You can also open new tabs, clean up your tabs (which closes all but the active tab), or open a new InPrivate browsing tab, which is clearly marked with a blue “InPrivate” icon.

The desktop version of IE looks more or less like IE9, though of course the UI hasn’t necessarily been finalized at this point. One of the only noticeable differences is the presence of a Metro-style scrollbar on pages that require one. Also new is an “Install new versions automatically” checkbox in the About Internet Explorer page, reinforcing Microsoft’s desire to get and keep Windows users on the most current IE version their operating system supports. There’s no evidence that Microsoft plans to move to the rapid-release cycle that Google and Mozilla have both adopted (such a decision would give enterprise IT managers apoplexy), but this sort of functionality would theoretically make it possible.

Benchmarks

Now, let’s peek under the hood and get a few performance numbers. According to these basic tests, IE10 is faster than IE9 by a noticeable margin, but it can’t quite catch up to the current versions of Firefox or Chrome. These benchmarks were all run on the Dell Latitude E6410 that served as my main Windows 8 machine for this review.

Kraken JavaScript Benchmark 1.1

v8 JavaScript Benchmark v6

Interestingly, all browsers performed the v8 benchmark slightly faster in Windows 8. The difference isn’t huge—just a few hundred points in both cases—but it is both consistent and measureable, and I thought it interesting that the OS update slightly improved the performance of these third-party programs. Kraken scores were consistent across Windows 7 and Windows 8.

The New Task Manager Windows Recovery Environment and Secure Boot
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  • Ryan Smith - Saturday, March 10, 2012 - link

    The 10.2 driver "should" work fine with Win8. Obviously AMD isn't going to support it, but the basic graphics system requirement for Win8 is a WDDM 1.0 (Vista era) driver, which is what the 10.2 driver supports for AMD's DX9 cards. Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, March 9, 2012 - link

    I installed 7 on an old desktop with a Radeon X1600 and it runs Aero fine. I think 8 has the same requirements, so in theory it should work. Reply
  • hadrons - Friday, March 9, 2012 - link

    Secure boot implementation in ARM is different from X86 architecture in windows 8.

    I can't believe anandtech got it wrong.

    please read this before you write about secure boot.

    http://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/10971.html
    Reply
  • Tuvok86 - Friday, March 9, 2012 - link

    no reason to drift into the amd vs intel topic, I'm sure he had his reasons to test it only on Intel, but then I wouldn't call that "representative of most machines that people will actually be thinking about upgrading to Windows 8" Reply
  • Andrew.a.cunningham - Friday, March 9, 2012 - link

    We're just talking about raw performance here - x86 is x86. Reply
  • silverblue - Saturday, March 10, 2012 - link

    Actually, it is. Most people even bothered with Windows 8 will have Intel systems, and I doubt we'll see a mass market penetration for the ARM version for a while. Reply
  • snoozemode - Friday, March 9, 2012 - link

    To me it's so obvious. Run Metro in "tablet mode", desktop in "PC mode". Reply
  • dubyadubya - Friday, March 9, 2012 - link

    Windows 8 should be renamed Tiles 1 since it is no longer Windows at all! Flame me if you want but MS employees have lost their fucking minds. Sure Tiles 1 will be nice on portable devices with touch screens but Tiles 1 has no fucking business existing on desktop PC's. What a bunch of dumb asses! Fuck! Reply
  • freedom4556 - Friday, March 9, 2012 - link

    "but Tiles 1 has no *redacted* business existing on desktop PC's."

    I would say that this is true for enterprise environments. While they point out that domain admins can deny access to the Windows Store and that's great, they'd be complete loons not to, most domain admins I know (and I am one, too) are going to want to disable Metro entirely because our user base is jittery and codependent already as it is and Windows 8 is going to give them all a heart attack. What were they thinking? Windows 8 enterprise better look like windows server
    Reply
  • R3MF - Friday, March 9, 2012 - link

    1. How does the Windows8 scheduler improve performance on AMD bulldozer/piledriver architecture?
    2. Will Windows 7 get DirectX 11.1?

    many thanks
    Reply

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