This blog is closed as of 2/2015. @EricLaw left Microsoft in 2012, but was named an IE MVP in '13 & an IE userAgent ( in '14.

Download Speed in the IE9 Download Manager

Download Speed in the IE9 Download Manager

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One of the common questions we’ve received about IE9’s new download manager is “Where’s the download speed"?”

The answer is that the download speed is shown in a tooltip over the download completion percentage, like so:


Upon hearing this, some  subset of beta testers have requested that we move this information out to the top-level. The download manager team is considering that feedback and other suggestions from the community.

I’m interested, however, in why this information is so important that it should appear on the top level? Is it because users want to benchmark their network connection? Or is it because the percentage-completion and time-remaining numbers aren’t enough to indicate that the download is still proceeding well? Is it because the old IE8 download dialog showed this information and it would be comforting to see it in IE9 as well? Or is the reason for this request something else entirely? Please let us know!

Update: Thanks for all of the feedback. In the IE9 Release Candidate build, download speed information was returned to the top-level UI.



  • I agree with this decision, why you wanna see download speed if your download is minimized all the time ?

  • Things we download are often distributed among many mirrors.  If I see "15 minutes left", it doesn't tell me how well the download is using my connection.  If I see "15 minutes left, 80KB/s", I might cancel the download and try another mirror to get a nice 3MB/s download.

  • For me, the "Why" is a combination of everything you said. I sometimes download a large file for the sake of benchmarking internet speed to a certain server. Speed is almost never a constant, so a constantly present indicator is a must. Also, I know that if the speed suddenly drops to a few bytes per second, the download may be about to fail, and so I want to prepare myself mentally for the disappointment and reinitiation of it.

    A download speed indicator is like a guide as to what my mood should be - Blazingly fast (excited), faster than usual (happy), normal (bored), slower than usual (annoyed, but not disappointed), really slow (angry and disappointed), nearly dead (at which point, I'd be the one asking out loud "WHYY?!?! OH WHYYYYY?!?!"). Therefore - taking away the speed is like taking away the humanity side of it.

  • It's all about feedback quality. When downloading a big file (or using a slow connection), going from xx.1MB to xx.2MB or from x% to x+1% could take a long time. By comparison, the download speed offers near-instant gratification. A tooltip isn't good enough, because it's static.

  • Very interesting points, thanks!  Any others?

  • Could you fix the bug with the download time/speed estimate?  The download has begun when IE starts getting the response stream from the server, but it doesn't start calculating elapsed time until you close the filename dialog.  Say you get one meg downloaded while the dialog is up, IE will think it got that meg instantly and the speed and time remaining estimates will be screwed up and stay screwed up.  Of course they converge fairly quickly on the real values, but they will still be a bit skewed.

  • it is sort-of-benchmarking - it's so people get a good idea of how fast the file is downloading relative to how fast they know their line is, so they know if there's issues (like needing to choose another mirror, for example)

    my main complaint with the download manager, however, is how hard it is to bring it up once a download is complete.  I really don't like how the yellow bar disappears when the download finishes, it makes it really difficult to manage short downloads.  This is compounded by the fact that you can't make it appear on the command-bar either.  agreed there's a shortcut command for it, but still...

    on that subject, the command bar a) looks ugly when juxtaposed with the new style, and b) is something I wish wasn't necessary.  however, it's also the only way to get the RSS autodiscovery icon.  Sure, almost all sites with feeds have a link to them on the site (though finding the link can be challenging), but if they're using a feed proxy, quite often clicking on the RSS link takes to to an html-web-ifised version of the feed, not the feed itself... so the subscription option isn't there.

    not happening, but for me I'd like address bar and tabs on two levels, then have the ability to add options for RSS and download manager to the "home,favorites, settings" buttons at the top-right (with suitably IE-9-alised style icons, of course)

  • It's simple. The download speed tells me if I'm maxing out my connection, or how close I to the max I am. If I'm not close enough, I'll go find another mirror.

  • 1) Tooltips are a bad place to put dynamic data, because tooltips make me scrub. To find out the speed of each download I have to hover the mouse over each file in turn (long enough for the tip to appear) and inspect each one in turn. I can't just glance at the list.

    2) I often want to know if it's worth, for example, switching to another mirror. I know more or less how fast my Internet connection should be; if a download isn't approaching that speed, and has an alternative, I am going to try that alternative.

    3) Not every download has a known length.

  • Reference:

    Because historically, Windows' estimation algorithms have been terribly unreliable. I *never* trust Windows when it says it will be done doing something in X minutes; I take it as a wild, ballpark guesstimation at best.

    Thus, I don't want your approximations....just let me consume the raw data.

  • Of course, Ken, you realize that consuming the "raw data" will lead to exactly the same problem, right? It's like looking at the "Instant MPG" in a Prius-- either you think it's the most fuel efficient car ever (200 MPG, I rule!) or the least (14 MPG??? What is this, a bus?!?).

  • I didn't even notice it's not there. The information is only interesting when comparing how fast the download is currently against how fast it could be as of your internet line's speed. Beside that I don't find it particularly important. However, a tooltip is perhaps not the best way to display this. I like it how the Windows file dialog does it in Vista and 7. You click on details and can see the values. Maybe some details button makes sense, considering this is mainly interesting for technically more advanced users.


    That has been fixed with Vista onwards, the values are pretty exact since then. Secondly, the values won't help you to guess a better ETA; simply because all you can do is taking the avg. speed and dividing the remaining file size with it; the very same as the download manager will do.

  • @Tino,

    I may just be lucky, but on my systems, the tooltip is not static. It dynamically shows the download speed as long a I hover over the download in the manager.

    However, I definitely feel that the download speed should be included in the download manager UI by default.


    Here's what I might do with the Download Manager UI, which would also reduce the row height to 2 lines :-D:

    Name Location Actions


    file.exe Downloads [Pause] [Cancel]

    2 minutes remaining 1.1MB/sec (49%)

    I have to say, I'm very pleased with MS' openness and interest in customers' wishes.

  • I am with one of the first commentors, knowing the downlaod speed could lead me to look at a diffrent mirror or another download site especialy if the download is more that 50 megs.

  • There are a lot of points, for example:

    - The download speed allows me to judge the quality of the Internet connection when I'm connected to a public network (airport WLAN or similar).

    - At home or work (where I know my usual download rates) I can see instantly if the server I'm downloading from is slow (maybe overcrowded), and I can then quickly make the decision whether to cancel and find a better mirror.

    - Helps me detecting a sudden drop in download speed. For example, recently, I had a chat with a colleague while a big download was running. I took a glance at the download window from time to time the check its status and whether the download was still as fast as before (hands off the mouse, a ToolTip would not help). Suddenly, there was a sharp drop in the download speed, and after a few seconds, I decided to cancel the download. I guess I wouldn't have noticed this so quickly without the constant display of the download rate. I've seen this behavior so many times before with colleagues and friends: You go away from the PC while downloading a big game trial or similar to make some coffee, and from time to time you come back (without touching the mouse or keyboard)  just to take a look at the download speed.

    - The download speed is the only real-time information about how fast things are going on. If it's high, it implies satisfaction, a feeling of "all is going well". Think of the ground speed information on aircraft monitors above passenger's seats. Passengers find it helpful and not confusing despite the arrival time is also displayed.

    In general, the *current* speed is vital information to judge the *present* situation and whether all is OK while the information about how long it will still take points to the future, which is a different register in my brain. For me, having the current download speed available only in a ToolTip would be the same if I had to put my index finger on the windshield of my car each time I want to find out how fast I'm driving.  :-)

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