Launch Options for Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8


Internet Explorer Team Blog

Launch Options for Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8

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IE10 is a new browsing experience built in lockstep with Windows 8 to give you all the advantages that Metro style applications offer. We built that experience by extending IE’s underlying architecture to provide a fast, fully hardware accelerated browsing engine with strong security and support for HTML5 and other Web standards. IE10 also includes a desktop experience for when you are using desktop tools and wish to continue using them in your existing workflows.

Following last September’s release of the Windows 8 Developer Preview, we heard a lot about giving you the option to control which experience of Internet Explorer—Metro style or on the desktop —to launch when clicking a link in another application. In the Windows Consumer Preview, IE10 offers you that control.

By default, Windows 8 Consumer Preview opens links using the flavor of Internet Explorer that matches your current environment: if you’re running a Metro style application, following a link launches Metro style IE10; if you’re running a desktop application, following a link launches IE10 on the desktop. You can override this default behavior using the Programs tab of the Internet Properties dialog.

Screen shot of the Programs tab of the Windows 8 Internet Properties dialog showing the option for choosing how Internet Explorer opens links.

You can locate these settings quickly by using the Start screen’s search capability and searching for terms such as “links,” “launch,” or “open links.” Show below is the result of search for the term “launch.”

Screen shot of a Settings section of the Windows 8 Start search results page when "launch" is searched for. "Choose how you open Internet Explorer" is selected in the search results.

The following sections describe the available settings.

Opening Links

The first setting of the Browser Launch Settings (labeled “Choose how you open links”) controls what happens when you click a link in another program. Your choices include:

Options for Opening Links Behavior
Let Internet Explorer decide Launch links based on the environment you are in
Always in Internet Explorer Launch links in the Windows 8 (Metro style) environment
Always in Internet Explorer on the desktop Launch links in the desktop environment

The default for this setting is “Let Internet Explorer decide.” In other words, links will launch into the appropriate experience based on the invoking context—desktop or Metro style. Links will open in the desktop IE10 when a link is clicked from a desktop application, for example, Microsoft Word, and in Metro style IE10 when a link is opened from a Metro style application.

Opening Internet Explorer from the Start Screen

In addition to controlling how Windows opens links, the Browser Launch Settings also provide users with options on how Internet Explorer application tiles launch from the Start screen. Internet Explorer’s application tile is the default launching point for the browser on the Start screen. You create pinned site tiles when you pin sites to the Start screen. The setting “Open Internet Explorer tiles on the desktop” controls what happens when you click the Internet Explorer or pinned site tile.

Options for opening Internet Explorer Tiles Expected behavior
(unchecked) Launch in the Windows 8 (Metro style) environment
(checked) Launch in the desktop environment

Launch Options and Browser Defaults

IE10 is available in both Metro style and desktop experiences when it is the default browser. If Internet Explorer is not your default browser, only desktop IE is available and you cannot change IE’s Browser Launch Settings. The “Choose how you open links” option on the Programs tab of the Internet Properties dialog will be disabled (“grayed out”) when IE is not the default browser:

Screen shot of the Programs tab of the Windows 8 Internet Properties dialog showing the option for choosing how Internet Explorer opens links disabled because IE10 is not the default browser.

To change the default browser, type “default” on the Windows 8 Start screen. The Start screen will search apps, settings, and files for this term. The Apps results will include Default Programs. Touch or click it to bring up the Default Programs control panel item. From its list of options, select “Set your default programs” to display a page containing a list of programs on the left.

Screen shot of the Set Default Programs control panel item showing "Internet Explorer" selected in the list of programs and "Set this program as default" being selected.

Select “Internet Explorer” and then click or touch “Set this program as default.” This will set IE10 as the default browser on Windows 8 and enable its Metro style experience.


IE10 offers you a full-screen, immersive site experience. We’ve found that many people – even those with the most enthusiastic and intense browsing patterns – prefer Metro style browsing because it’s less manual and more focused on what you browse than on how you browse. That said, for some browsing, IE on the desktop continues to play an important role. The Browser Launch Settings allow you to change the default settings for a “no compromises” experience.

Try out these settings, and let us know what you think. We look forward to your feedback here and on Connect.

—Kevin Luu, Program Manager, Internet Explorer

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