For Windows 8 “Blue,” Rafael Rivera and I are going to take a different approach: Rather than co-publish the same posts as did leading up to “Windows 8 Secrets,” we will be writing complementary posts about new features we discover in the product. First up, a new feature for the desktop version of Internet Explorer 11!

The feature is called desktop swipe, and while it’s not exposed in the UI of the current leaked build (9364) of Windows 8 “Blue,” it can be easily enabled via a Registry change, as Rafael explains in his post, Blue's Clues: IE 11 Desktop to get IE 11 Metro swipe navigation.

Here’s how it works.

If you’ve used Internet Explorer 10 “Metro,” you know that the immersive version of Microsoft’s Windows 8 web browser sports a really nice (and usable) navigational model where you can swipe horizontally to move back and forth through the browsing history. This is especially handy when you consider that in Metro apps that ancillary app bar interfaces (which in IE’s case includes the navigational buttons) are hidden by default. So rather than require you to activate the app bar and then tap Back or Forward, IE 10 Metro lets you go back or forward by swiping in the appropriate direction on-screen.

With IE 11, Microsoft is bringing this feature to the desktop version of the browser too. As with IE 10 Metro, it only works via touch; that is, you can’t use the mouse to “grab” the current web page and navigate right (back) or left (forward). But it provides a nice bit of consistency, and if you need to use both browsers for some reason they will now work more similarly.

I should also mention that this feature does of course technically constitute an improvement to the Windows desktop in “Blue,” and while this is the only one we’ve found so far, I suspect a few more (similarly minor) improvements will crop up over time. (And certainly future builds could have more desktop updates too.)

For information about enabling this feature, be sure to read Blue's Clues: IE 11 Desktop to get IE 11 Metro swipe navigation on WithinWindows.

Update: Turns out, you can in fact enable this feature in the UI: Navigate to Tools, Internet Options, Advanced, Browsing and check the option titled "Turn on the swiping motion on Internet Explorer for the desktop." --Paul