For developers who need to keep their projects abreast of upcoming features in major web browsers, nightly builds of Chrome and Firefox have long been available. Now, Microsoft is trying to become more developer-friendly by undertaking a similar effort. According to this post on the company's IEBlog, a version of IE called Internet Explorer Developer Channel is now available.
IE Developer Channel can be installed concurrently with the release version of IE11, and it can be used without affecting that browser's settings or stability. To pull off this feat, Microsoft virtualizes IE Developer Channel using its App-V Client software. Unfortunately, that means there will be a slight performance hit, so developers may not be able to gauge the speed of their apps accurately.
IE Developer Channel also includes an expanded version of Microsoft's F12 Developer Tools, support for the automated testing standard WebDriver, compatibility with the GamePad API, and improved WebGL support. Because of the nature of the release, IE Developer Channel will be under constant development, and features will likely be changed or added over time. As with most pre-release software, you probably shouldn't run this version of IE day-to-day—although its interoperability with IE11 should make it fairly risk-free to try. If you want to give IE Developer Channel a spin, you'll need Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 Service Pack 1 with IE11 already installed.
It's good to see Microsoft is following through with its recent commitment to a more open relationship with the web development community. Here's hoping the company continues to cultivate this relationship in the future.
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