I had assumed that Microsoft would ship Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7 alongside the release of IE 10 in Windows 8 late last month, but that milestone came and went without a release. Here’s why: IE 10 for Windows 7 is coming, but is slightly behind the Windows 8 version. Today, Microsoft issued a preview version of the browser.

IE 10 for Windows 7 is exactly what you think it is: The desktop version of IE 10, running on Windows 7. That is, it doesn’t include the touch-first, Metro-style interface you get in Windows 8, of course. But it does include everything else that makes IE 10 special: The new standards-compliant rendering engine.

According to Microsoft, IE 10 for Windows 7 includes:

Fast and fluid performance. IE 10 is “all around fast,” Microsoft says, with improved hardware acceleration and an updated Chakra JavaScript engine.

More interoperable HTML5 support. IE 10 includes support for rich HTML 5-based visual effects (CSS text shadow, CSS 3D transforms, CSS3 transitions and animations, CSS3 gradient, SVG filter effects), sophisticated CSS3-based page layouts (including CSS3 grid, flexbox, multi-column, positioned floats, regions, and hyphenation), HTML5 Forms, input controls, and validation. It also includes an enhanced web programming model with better offline app support (local storage with IndexedDB and HTML5 application cache), web sockets, HTML5 history, async scripts, HTML5 file APIs, HTML5 drag and drop, HTML5 sandboxing, web workers, and ES5 strict mode support.

Microsoft notes that developers who are already targeting IE 10 in Windows 8 can use the same markup and get the same performance and capabilities on Windows 7. You can find out about IE 10 developer features in the Internet Explorer 10 Developer Guide.

IE 10 for Windows 7 includes the same user interface as the desktop version of IE 10 for Windows 8, which is virtually identical to that of IE 9.

Though I will of course continue to write about Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8, I will not be reviewing IE 10 for Windows 7.

You can download the IE 10 for Windows 7 Preview from the IE Test web site.