updated 08:15 pm EDT, Mon June 16, 2014
Developer version looks at features in testing, runs separate from existing browser
Developers and enthusiasts can now download a developer version of Internet Explorer to see what Microsoft's team is working on according to the official IE Blog. Microsoft has launched the Internet Explorer Developer Channel, allowing access to fully-functional developer versions of the browser that can run "alongside and independently" of Internet Explorer 11. The program is aimed at providing an open dialogue between the Internet Explorer teams and web developers.
In the past, Microsoft would release preview or beta versions of the browser, but would never provide transparency as it worked on new features. Now, developers will be able to get ahold of features as the company is working on them. The initiation of the program follows some new insight into the development process of the software, spurred on by Microsoft's changing view on being open. Two weeks ago, the desire to open up Internet Explorer development started when the browser team outlined some new features that were being worked on or at least thinking about.
According to a statement made to TechCrunch, new versions of the development browser will be released "when there are meaningful changes," a possible dig at the never-ending release schedule for competitor Firefox. The idea of the development being open to the public treads close to the details Firefox and Chrome offers. However, Microsoft hasn't said if the updates would be automatic, or if it would be an entire new build to be downloaded.
The developer version of Internet Explorer will be able to run next to existing copies of Internet Explorer 11 without interfering with standard use. The new version will be virtualized, allowing it to exist in its own sandbox without having an effect on existing installs and profiles. Microsoft does say that the virtualization will create a small performance hit in the dev version. The version available through the Developer Channel is currently only offered for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1
The first developer version of Internet Explorer offers a number of updates and new features. Enhancements have been made to F12 developer tools and WebGL performance. New features include WebDriver browser automation testing, and a gamepad API that allows use of Xbox controllers.
Internet Explorer has been regaining market share recently, after a long number of issues turned users to other browsers. Chrome, Firefox and Safari were able to garner larger followings for a number of years while Microsoft worked out vulnerabilities. Net Applications data from May indicates that Internet Explorer (all versions combined) has over a 58 percent share of the market. Chrome, Firefox and Safari trail behind at 40 percent combined.