Microsoft Internet Explorer Downloads

Close up of address bar on internet browser
Getty Images/Adam Gault

Microsoft has produced versions of its Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser dating back to 1995. It continues to be one of the most popular applications on the Internet, used by millions to browse the World Wide Web (WWW), primarily but not exclusively on Microsoft Windows. The browser, and various add on software utilities, can be freely downloaded online.

Downloading the Correct Version of Internet Explorer

Current versions of Internet Explorer can be obtained from the Browsers section of the Microsoft Download Center at http://microsoft.com/download.

The latest supported browser for a given computer depends on the version of operating system it runs. For example, a PC running Windows 7 cannot run the newest versions of IE supported on Windows 10.

While generally not recommended, old versions of IE can be installed on computers.  Installation packages for old versions of IE can be obtained from oldversion.com.

Download Internet Explorer Security Patches

Arguably the most important of all software downloads related to Internet Explorer are security patches that Microsoft releases regularly. Software patches are small modifications to existing applications that update and replace specific files of the application without requiring it to be uninstalled or losing the user's settings. Due to the large number of security attacks that occur on the Internet daily, patches have become essential for fixing any potential security issues that appear online, particularly with popular applications like IE.

Windows users can obtain regular Internet Explorer security patches via Windows Update. Experts recommend enabling the "automatic update" feature of Windows Update for "recommended" downloads so that the installation of security patches does not get delayed waiting for a user to start them.

Downloading Internet Explorer Add-Ons

Installing optional browser components called "add-ons" can enhance the usefulness of Internet Explorer.

Microsoft defines four categories of add-ons:

  • toolbars and extensions
  • search providers
  • accelerators
  • tracking protection

Browser toolbars have historically been the most popular optional browser download for Web browsers generally, not just IE. These toolbars provide shortcut links and time-saving ways to pass data from a Web page to a third-party Web site.

Search provider add-ons allow a user to take text typed into the Internet Explorer address bar and direct it to a specific Web search engine the browser sends its search requests to.

An accelerator enables selecting text from a Web page and sending it to a Web service via the right-click menu.

Finally, users can install add-ons that increase their privacy online by blocking some forms of Web content. These so-called tracking protection lists are maintained by several groups on the Internet.

The list of Internet Explorer add-ons installed on a system can be accessed from the IE Tools menu and the "Manage add ons" menu option. Individual add-ons can also be disabled and/or removed through this same interface.

Microsoft maintains a gallery of IE add-ons available for download at iegallery.com.

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