Microsoft confirmed with Engadget that Internet Explorer 11 won't be just a Windows 8.1 exclusive. The browser will eventually make its way to Windows 7 just like Internet Explorer 10. The company was reluctant to provide any kind of time frame, thus it's likely that users won't see the latest browser on Windows 7 until long after Windows 8.1 lands on PCs and tablets later this year.
It took quite a while for Internet Explorer 10 to reach Windows 7. The browser first appeared in preview form in April 2011 and then again in June 2011 for Windows 7 and beyond. However, the browser became a Windows 8 exclusive starting with the Windows 8 Developer Preview launched in September 2011, and then didn't reappear on Windows 7 (SP1) again until the Release Preview in November 2012. The final version for Windows 7 finally went gold in February 2013.
That said, the official launch of Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 7 lagged about four months behind Windows 8's final release despite the overall long development period. The big boost users will reportedly see when the browser finally arrives will be in the graphics department, as Internet Explorer 11 adds support for WebGL 3D rendering and MPEG Dash hardware acceleration for video streaming. There will also be improvements in the overall speed and battery life for mobile devices, but nothing major in the interface.
Of course, that's for the desktop version. Microsoft has poured a lot of time and money into the Modern UI version which, unlike the desktop browser, hijacks the entire screen by default. New to Internet Explorer 11 will be side-by-side windowing, tab sync across all Windows 8-based devices, means to permanently show the address bar and open tabs, and a way to reopen closed tabs. Websites will also be able to create animated Live Tiles for the browser.
Internet Explorer 11 will be available alongside Windows 8.1 when it's released as a final version later this year. However, customers can check out a preview version of the browser after installing Windows 8.1 Preview which was launched this week.