What’s new in Internet Explorer 11 for Windows Phone

You may have been hearing bits and pieces of news about IE11 on Windows Phone 8.1, and we’re excited to share the full scoop on user experience improvements with you today! Our team has been laser focused on delivering a massive upgrade to four key areas of your browsing experience: quick site access, fast and fluid browsing, safety and privacy, and accessibility.

Look out for separate posts coming soon about what’s new for Web developers in the release.

Quick site access

Everyone always wants a faster browser, which is a fun challenge to work on - and our team breaks this down into two pieces. First, you need to tell the browser where you want to go, and second, the browser needs to get there as fast as possible. The second piece usually gets most of the attention, with browser performance benchmarks (like SunSpider, Acid3, Octane, and other muscular names) driving the discussion. While we have made progress on the benchmarks, a big focus this time was making serious progress on the first piece, telling the browser where you want to go. And here’s how we did it.

Frequent sites + URL predictions

When you tap the address bar, we know you likely want to go to a different site than the one you are looking at. We all have a few sites that we like to visit frequently, and those are now a quick tap of the address bar away. As you browse, these will update to reflect the sites you visit most on your phone. Here is a screenshot of mine.

Frequently visited sites on IE11 for Windows Phone

If you decide to type in the address bar, we now predict the site you would like to go to (the highlighted part below). Instead of typing out the entire URL, you can just tap enter and be on your way faster. It is one of those things you can’t imagine living without once you have it. The result is a browser that just feels snappier, since it requires less work from you to get to your sites.

Inline auto complete

Unlimited (and easy to access) tabs + One IE, Everywhere

As more Web browsing shifts to mobile devices, we want to be able to complete more complex tasks on these devices. One example is multi-tabbed browsing. Previously, we only allowed up to six tabs and there was a small speed bump to access your tabs in the “…” menu (unless you used the setting to change the address bar button).

So we decided to remove this limit - seriously, you can open as many tabs as you like - and now the button next to the address bar accesses your tabs by default. Making tabs easy to access was a welcome change, yet we still heard requests for easy access to refresh. So we’re going to have our cake and eat it too. You’ll notice that the tabs button and refresh button are both immediately accessible.

Tabs and refresh button visible by default  Unlimited and roamed tabs

If you’re an astute observer, you noticed the “other” pivot in the screenshot above. We are excited to announce that Internet Explorer 11 will sync your browsing data across phone, tablet, and PC. This includes your favorites, history, passwords, and open tabs. You can now quickly pick up where you left off when you switch devices, and finally say goodbye to emailing yourself links!

Heads up: if you are concerned about data use, we’ve got your back. Just enter your data limit in the DataSense app, and we’ll be smart about when to sync this data to help avoid data overage charges.

Live pinned sites

I love having quick access to my favorite blogs right on my start screen with pinned sites, but honestly, pinned sites have been super lame less than stellar thus far on Windows Phone. With just a static screenshot, they were second-class citizens next to the beautiful and dynamic live tiles from my favorite apps. That all changes now. If you have used Windows 8.1, pinned sites will now feel very familiar.

Pinned sites now show rich site icons and even update in the background, with the latest headlines and images from your favorite blog for example, just like other live tiles. If you own a Web site, you can find instructions on how to light this up for your site here (hint: exact same markup as Windows 8.1). If your favorite sites don’t support live pinned sites, point them at those instructions and let them know all the cool kids are doing it. We’ll be posting more details for developers but in the meantime check out this start screen made exclusively with live pinned sites.

Pinned sites

Fast and fluid browsing

So now we’ve got you on your way to sites much faster. We also want it to be wicked fast to get and consume the content you care about. So we also made strides on speeding up your experience after you arrive at the site, with in-line video playback, Reading View, remembering passwords, swipe to go back and forward, and saving downloaded files.

In-line video playback

How many times have you been watching a YouTube video and thought to yourself, “I wonder what the Internet thinks about this”? Well now you can watch that video AND view the high-quality comments below it from within your browser. To sweeten the deal, we’ll even keep the video playing under the lock screen. We’ll be posting more information to help developers provide great support for in-line video playback soon.

Inline video on YouTube.com

Reading View

Do you love reading celebrity gossip and Cosmo news articles while on the go? Just like on your tablet or PC, tap the Reading View icon in the address bar for a great reading experience. This will remove the clutter and stitch all pages of the article together. Here’s what an article looks like on a site and in Reading View.

Reading view button  Reading view

Remembering passwords

This should make logging in WAY easier. ‘nuff said.
PS – passwords now sync to IE across phone, tablet, and PC.

Prompt to remember passwords

Swipe to go back and forward

Similar to your PC or tablet (noticing a trend? ) you can now swipe to go back and forward. Yes, forward makes its long-awaited return to IE on Windows Phone! Below is a screenshot of going back while reading an article.

Swipe to navigate backwards and forwards

Saving downloaded files

You can now choose to save files downloaded from the Web, huzzah!

Save or open downloaded files

Safety and privacy

We were the first mobile browser to introduce anti-phishing protection with SmartScreen Filter and we also added the DoNotTrack signal to address growing privacy concerns. We’re at it again with a few features to keep you protected while browsing.


Don’t want your friends to know about your fascination with unicorns? You can now open InPrivate tabs and know that all the data associated with that tab is deleted when the tab is closed. Just open the menu on the tabs screen and select “Open InPrivate tab.”

DataSense High Savings Mode

We brought DataSense to IE on Windows Phone 8 to enable up to 40% more browsing with the same amount of data, and no noticeable difference in the browsing experience. This time, we are introducing High Savings Mode, which downloads only the most important pieces of the Web site and heavily compresses images. Here’s an example with (left) and without (right) High Savings Mode turned on.

High Savings Mode  High Savings Mode off

The site definitely looks different, and this is tremendously useful if you have a small data plan or are running low on your data plan for the month. In Internet Explorer settings, you can choose to always enable High Savings Mode, never enable it, or keep it set to automatic, which will turn it on automatically when you are nearing your data plan limit (as configured in your DataSense app). To view the full version of a site while in High Savings Mode, just tap the icon in the address bar.


At Microsoft, we take an inclusive approach to product design – ensuring we understand the needs of all our users. I’m pleased that IE11 supports high contrast mode, Narrator, and an override switch to allow zooming into all Web pages. Look out for a future post on the Windows Phone blog covering system-wide accessibility for details.

Wrap Up

Phew! That was a lot to cover! We’re excited for you to get these great updates to your browser, and as always we look forward to your thoughts and feedback. Leave comments below, or tweet @IE.

— Amin Lakhani, Program Manager, Internet Explorer

Thanks to Dhruv Chadha, Derek Liddell, and Oren Freiberg for contributing to this post.

Comments (46)

  1. CvP says:

    1. Closing last tab is laggy. It was smooth in WP8.

    2. Tab view should not move current tab to first position. If you have a few tabs open and switching around a bit, the tab order keeps changing and switching becomes a pain. Tabs should be *ordered* (just like desktop browsers) and when you go to tab view, current tab should be marked in a prominent way (glowing border? different color? etc).

    3. Really need a open new tab option that is not as time consuming as click tab button, click +

    The best suggestion that comes to my mind is this:

    press tab button and swipe to address bar. Simple gesture to open a new blank tab.

    4. There is no open tab in background option which is really important! On top of that, in wp8, I used to do this:

    open in new tab, quickly press back so I'm back to current tab. Then visit the "background" tab later.

    In wp8.1, this is not working. If I press back after opening a link in new tab, the new tab gets "unloaded."

    Another option is to "split" the open in new tab menu element.

    open in new tab ➚

    copy link

    share link

    So if someone wants to open in background, they press the 20% width arrow (or whatever icon suits this more) button.

    I'd also highly appreciate if the open in background tab (or the wp8 style: open and press back) is properly implemented AND the tab loads properly in the background. If I switch to that new tab after and minute and see it is loading now, it defeats the purpose.

    Other than these, great work. Reading view is just too good!

  2. Steffen says:

    Windows Phone 8.1 supports transparent tiles. How can I make the background of my Live Pinned Site tile transparent? The "msapplication-TileColor" meta tag seems to only support Hex colors, or am I missing something?

  3. CvP says:

    #3 Actually, a better option would be swipe from tab button to content box instead of address bar.

  4. Yannick says:

    I didn't test it, but what happens if you don't add a "msapplication-TileColor" meta tag?

  5. Jeff P. says:

    My issue is that the browser is fundamentally breaking the Web by doing a GET instead of a POST…


  6. Jeff Putz says:

    My issue is that the browser is fundamentally breaking the Web by doing a GET instead of a POST…


  7. Joe says:

    I'm sorry, but the WP IE user interface is still absolutely terrible.  I'm very glad for the performance improvements, and many of the new features, but the UI is just plain bad (and not really any better in 8.1).

    I mean, in 8.1, we lost the badge on the tabs button to see how many tabs you have open, plus we lost the option to open links from apps in the same tab. Worst is when you close an IE window the ‘tab’ stays open in the tabs list.  So the open tabs is kind of a mess.

    Besides that, the fundamental issue of having to switch to a new screen to see your open tabs or to view favorites is still there. And why exactly do we need to choose one or the other for easy access with a button on the toolbar? Really, I’m supposed to believe that there’s no other solution than that? Plus, you still haven’t fixed the issue of menus that require a hover on WP IE like you have on WinRT / Metro IE, where you can press and hold for that.

    Honestly?  Just port over the entire Metro IE user interface.  It's far better than this.

    And unrelated, but for what it's worth, Tumblr "Send Fan Mail" consistently breaks InPrivate mode.  Any fan mail that you send while in InPrivate mode still is recorded in your history.

  8. Joost says:

    Great improvements and I love IE11 on the WP8.1 developer preview. Good job IE team!

  9. Sams says:

    If "swipe"  to back or forward pages, WHY page REloaded!!!

  10. CvP says:

    > I mean, in 8.1, we lost the badge on the tabs button to see how many tabs you have open,

    > If "swipe"  to back or forward pages, WHY page REloaded!!!

    +1 to both.

  11. Asbjørn says:

    IE11 on WP8.1 is a massive improvement – especially the faster address entry. I don't have to wait for autocomplete any longer! And the password sync is wonderful.

    One gripe: I am not able to press any links on http://tv2.dk (large Danish news site). This worked fine on IE10 on WP80, but I am not sure if this is a site issue or an IE11 issue.

  12. Alex says:

    Two issues in comparison to WP8.0:

    1. IE 11 is constantly reloading the page. I've opened it, switched to another app like phone dialer, locked phone, unlocked phone and then back to IE via app switching up – page is being reloaded. Happens on short intervals – i.e. it's not tombstoning issue.

    2. it was several times when I opened link with no internet (from email or from cached people hub feed), page was not loaded (no internet – fine), I went to settings to enable the internet and back to IE – url is lost.

    And just wondering – why progress bar color in inline/fullscreen video player in IE has accent which is different to phone settings – it's actually accent from Windows 8 default theme, and not my current Windows Phone theme.

    Reading mode is really great thing on mobile!


  13. DannyBoy says:

    Question related to downloads.

    MP3 files get stored to the music folder but MP4 get stored to the generic downloads folder. Why is this and is there a way to change it?

  14. Kenzibit says:

    Thanks for this but I'm really having tough time with it.

    1. Why does back key pressing close the tabs? At least it should suspend them till I close them myself by using the "X"

    2. Pages refresh every time screen locks. Why? Kinda wastes data for us. Can't it be stable for a long time like it did in WP8.0?

    Please address these for us.


  15. temp says:

    IE for windows phone need tracking protection list support

  16. David Warner says:

    @Riasat: #4 is incredibly annoying and has made browsing much more painful in WP8.1. Previously I could open multiple new tabs knowing that I could come back to them later, but now I'm forced to wait for each tab to load before I go back to the original page.

    @Alex: I've noticed the constant reloading, too. Really slows things down.

    Apart from these (rather huge) issues, I'm liking the new browser.

  17. Mouse says:

    Will you introduce Tracking Protection for IE in Windows Phone? Considering that their (PC, tablet, mobile) features seem to be converging (as the article hinted), it would be nice for this to come over as well.

  18. Nimble fingers says:

    By "temp":

    > IE for windows phone need tracking protection list support

    Yes! Absolutely! Some features are just common sense and this is one of them.

  19. Norman says:

    > Plus, you still haven’t fixed the issue of menus that

    >require a hover on WP IE like you have on WinRT / Metro IE,

    > where you can press and hold for that.

    If that's indeed true, I am done with WP. I was waiting for that to be fixed to decide whether to stay or not. I am a heavy browser user in my Android phone can access all those menus. MS made it impossible with WP, and after all these years they have NOT fixed that?

    Can anyone else please confirm?

    P.S. Note to apologizing trolls: I don't care that you don't use such feature or that you want to blame websites that don't support it. I can use it in RT and want to use it in WP too

  20. Hilvl says:

    Visitors of my website http://windowsphone.by ask why not sync browser data through Onedrive? It would be very convenient.

  21. Symbian says:

    I just miss the good old Symbian days when one can start loading the page in the browser; switch back to parent app (Twitter / Facebook etc) and come back knowing page must have loaded! I understand this is not considered "battery friendly" anymore; but IE can / should load the page (its data) using some background approach and when user switches back; do the necessary rendering using the already loaded data (including images etc)

  22. sisqo88 says:

    On my phone it mostly opens the websites in mobile version even if I set it on desktop mode it's annoying me

  23. kxn84 says:

    Summary: Unlimited tabs is misguided. It's not necessary on a phone. It's not practical, and it appears that this constraint is causing usability issues in other areas. Too much tabs reloading. Musical chair with tabs.

    Long version: I really appreciate the improvements in IE 11 for WP8.1. It brings quiet a bit of improvement in rendering speed and compatibility. Webpages are now rendering more properly. I still have a few suggestions that will make IE 11 much better.

    1. As you have read from previous posts, the tabs within IE 11 reload too frequently and not predictably. Sometimes they refresh for no apparent reasons after simply viewing a video. Sometimes it reload with even just ONE open tab. The user experience is severely degraded compared to IE 9 and IE 10. In fact, the two previous versions ALMOST NEVER reloaded. With IE 11, it's a game of roulette although the user is on the losing end. I simply cannot trust IE 11 anymore with text entered into text boxes and then continue later. What to write something in a forum and continue later? Forget about it. Want to compose a web email? Forget about it. I know the tabs will get reloaded and I lose all the writing. This is terribly broken.

    2. I think the tabs reloading happens because of this idea of "unlimited tabs.," which is misguided. This is simply NOT good idea at all. The phone is simply too small to manage "unlimited tabs". It's simply not practical, and it actually hurts the user experience. Why? I sometimes forget that I have so many tabs opened, or the location of a specific tab. Seriously, I once suddenly realized that I had 20 tabs opened. It's simply too hard to manage this "unlimited tabs". How do you even know what tabs to select when there are 20+ of them? What's the point? I think a good compromise is 8 tabs. Personally, the 6 tabs that are viewable in one page was very efficient and no scrolling required. Instead of presenting the "other" from other devices as tabs, use links instead.

    3. The tabs in IE 11 move around a lot. How do they move?

    a) Adding a new tab will put it at first position, pushing all other tabs down. User spatial memory is lost. The old behavior was much more logical. Things DON'T move around for no reason. The old method adds to the last position, which is exactly the same behavior as the DESKTOP browser with Windows 8.1. I think this is due to "unlimited tabs."

    b) Select any tab, and that tab is moved to the first position. Again, that pushes all other tabs down. Again, the user loses spatial memory.

    c) Please stop the musical chair with IE 11 tabs. IE 10 tab management was very efficient, fluid and no scrolling.

    4) Why does the swipe left and swipe right to go back and forward REFRESH the previous pages? This is annoying. The page should not refresh unless the user presses "refresh". Back and forward should be INSTANT. This is the reason why I don't use this function on WP8.1 and Windows 8.1. It's actually sometimes slower than just pressing back.

  24. kxn84 says:

    5) Please allow an option to disable live tiles for pinned websites. I only want the thumbnail. Believe or not, I find this much more useful because I know EXACTLY why I pinned the thumbnail shortcut. The thumbnail has enough visual detail to show what the content is. I pinned two Amazon product listings and both just show the Amazon logo and the word "Amazon". I couldn't distinguish between the two product listings like WP7 and WP8. Again, pinning a website onto the home screen is another game of roulette.

    a) Is it a thumbnail the same as the onscreen?

    b) Is it just the logo of the website (maybe the fav icon, not sure)?

    c) Is it the live tiles?

    In fact, I can almost never tell which option a, b, or c when I pin a website to the home screen. This is not good user experience. Please just add an option to show thumbnail only. This is how I use the home screen to pin websites.

  25. When is it rolling out in India?

  26. Sam says:

    I noticed the improved autocompletion of URLs right away and am very thankful for it.

    I can not understand why in WP8 (pre-8.1) the autocomplete was so slow. I'd have a few dozen pages in history and it would take _seconds_ for it to do an autocomplete to my most visited sites, and even then usually get it wrong by suggesting specific pages rather than the top level site. Did you guys have an intern make a O(n^4) search algorithm and then ship it? Just having this one problem fixed has made the browser far more useful.

    Keep up the good work!

  27. Dennis says:

    Please fix the random reloading of Webpages.

  28. LMKz says:

    I've noticed a bug in IE11 on WP8.1; quite often when scrolling a page, the page will suddenly "jump" a few lines, which often makes if hard to figure out where you were up to when reading. Although I've got used to this now, it's still really annoying. Happens on all sites.

    Also, the tab thing is confusing, I always seem to end up with a mass of tabs, I don't understand the logic behind what is creating new tabs versus reusing existing. The only time I want a new tab is when I ask for one. Otherwise, re-use.

  29. aaaaaaa says:

    It seems that and the regular update in May corresponds to another brittleness of Internet Explorer again.

    That is like [ again ] an exception.

    Is Windows XP outside an object truly?

    I am sorry for the comment which is unrelated to a report.

  30. jhurley says:

    It seems that tabs are not tabs, just a history of links to sites you have been visiting. Like others have already stated, if you have to wait for the page to reload when switching to a different tab, it isn't a tab.

  31. adam says:

    Still no search on the website (the desktop equivalent of Ctrl + F). This would make jumping to relevant sections in long articles or reading an online manual much easier!

  32. Richter03 says:

    I hope an optional to use fullscreen video with native app like older IE version, it's really pain to watch video that smaller then phone screen (unless it large like tablet). I love this feature from older IE phone version, when I click to watch video I want to watch it, no reason for me to read other sector of page. (I use Windows phone 8.1 Development Preview)

  33. Richter03 says:

    Ps. I mean in desktop mode.

  34. riasat says:

    Totally agreed with Richter. This new puny video playback is annoying as hell. Need it to default to full screen! MUST!

    Agreed with jhurley too.

  35. Nargg says:

    @riasta @Richter, don't you just turn the phone sideways and it changes to full screen on video???

  36. Beck01 says:

    Please add an option to the quick IE settings to Force a Desktop version of the website if the mobile version is loaded, or force the mobile version of the website when the desktop version is loaded. The universal setting we currently have to force Mobile/Desktop versions is good but is not practical.

  37. Web Developer says:

    I'm disappointed that the words "html", "standards", and "compliance" do not appear in this article.

  38. stuart says:

    Shameless plug, but if you are interested in the Pocket-lint Cortana vs Siri article, here is the link – http://www.pocket-lint.com/…/128303-cortana-vs-google-now-vs-siri-battle-of-the-personal-assistants


    Pocket-lint founder

  39. @Web Developer says:

    Don't be disappointed and "ignorant".

    We already know how well IE11 is geared towards Web Standards. This blog is meant for Windows Phone version and mainly focused on UI/UX bits.


  40. Mike says:

    The whole point of opening a link in a new tab while reading a web page is to continue reading the page you're on and view the link later. This means that new tabs should open IN THE BACKGROUND! Don't switch me out of the page I was reading for Pete's sake! And now with IE11 it's even worse because I have wait for the page I was on to reload when I switch back to it. Honestly, this make IE11 all but unusable for anything but the most rudimentary web browsing.

  41. Tez says:

    I dislike the swipe back/forward. I tend to trigger it cleaning the screen to read an article. I would like one of the following changes

    1. Disable swipe option.

    2. No page auto-reload so that it is fast enough to switch back that it is not annoying.

    3. Better touch detection so that if you are wiping the screen with your palm you will not trigger the behaviour only if you swipe with a single finger.

  42. OT says:

    @stuart : my personal assistant is a girl, and she really sucks… in a good way 🙂

    Cortana, Google now or Siri may sucks, but probably not in the correct way.

  43. Demitrius Harris says:

    Is it possible to add the option to enable Compatibility View in IE11 Mobile just as we can in IE11 on Windows 8.x? IE11 is not compatible with certain websites, most importantly for our IT department, the Citrix websites that are used to access VDI and ctxapps. Even on the desktop, IE11 only renders a blank black page until we enable Compatibility View and then it works and we are able to log in.

    With IE11 Mobile, there currently isn't a Compatibility View and we simply cannot use Citrix anymore as we only get a black page instead of the login screen. Compatibility View Mobile would fix this.

    I plan on contacting Citrix but considering IE11 Mobile is sharing code with IE11 for Windows, Compatibility Mode should be included as now the mobile IE has inherited some of the same incompatibilities as the Windows IE.

  44. Martijn says:

    I remember you removed @font-face support in IE9 Mobile (that, or it never worked and you never fixed it).

    So is @font-face working again in this version?

  45. pelister says:


    my problem with tab syncing is that my phone displays very old tabs previously opened in my desktop IE. I hope this feature becomes instantaneous in the RTM version.

  46. __hAl__ says:

    It seems faster since the recent update of window phone 8.1

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