Microsoft's Internet Explorer 10 is now available for Windows 7, bringing with it all the features of the Windows 8 version bar the in-built Flash Player.
If you're still running the last-generation Windows 7 - either out of a desire to avoid the divisive tile-based Modern UI introduced in Windows 8 or just because you're loath to fix something that isn't broken - and you're an Internet Explorer user, you'll be pleased to hear that Microsoft has finally brought Internet Explorer 10 to its last-generation operating system.
Previously a Windows 8 exclusive, Internet Explorer 10 includes a raft of improvements to the web browsing world including - and most importantly - better adherence to established web standards, helping to minimise the tweaks needed to get sites to operate correctly in Microsoft's traditionally somewhat esoteric browser. IE10 also includes an Enhanced Protected Mode sandbox feature for improved security, a better anti-phishing and download-filtering engine dubbed SmartScreen, and Do Not Track support - enabled by default - to improve privacy. A new touch-centric application programming interface and DirectX acceleration to speed up rendering complete the feature set.
Launched back in October alongside Windows 8, Microsoft has been slow to port Internet Explorer 10 back to Windows 7 - despite the many improvements it brings. The release, sent live on Microsoft's servers late last night, brings the wait to an end - and pushing the software out through Windows Update in the 'Important' category, meaning that users of earlier versions should receive the upgrade automatically.
While most of the functionality of Windows 8's version of Internet Explorer 10 has made the transition intact, there's one change to the software between platforms: running on Windows 7, Internet Explorer 10 will use the same Adobe-provided Flash Player ActiveX plugin as previous Internet Explorer releases; the Windows 8 version, meanwhile, shifted to using an integrated Flash Player plugin which is automatically updated through Windows Update, in a similar manner to the Flash support in Google's Chrome browser.
Other than that, the two browsers are functionally identical - and, given the improved security promised with IE10's Enhanced Protected Mode, a recommended install even for those who prefer a third-party browser on their Microsoft-provided operating system.
For Windows 8 users, an update to Internet Explorer 10 has been released alongside the Windows 7 version to address yet another security flaw in Adobe's Flash Player. The update is available now for all Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 and Windows RT systems, and should be installed as soon as possible to keep your systems secure from attack.
Thus far, Microsoft has not indicated whether it plans to bring Internet Explorer 10 to Windows Vista or earlier platforms.