IE10 in Windows 8: Can pinned Web sites truly replace Favorites?

The Windows 8 Metro flavor of IE10 jettisons Favorites, asking users instead to pin often-used Web sites. Is that a workable alternative?

Lance Whitney
Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
3 min read
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Internet Explorer users accustomed to working with Favorites will find life a bit different in the new Windows 8 Metro version of the browser.

The desktop flavor of IE10 still lets you create Favorites to manage your Web sites, but the Metro edition does away with such legacy options. Instead, you're given the option of pinning often-used Web sites, as described in a new Microsoft blog. Pinning a site places a tile for it on both the Metro Start screen and in the browser when you click in the address bar.

That process sounds convenient in theory. No more dealing with folders or menus to keep track of your favorite Web sites. The tiles for such sites are clearly visible right off the bat.

But heavy-duty IE users are likely to bump into trouble trying to manage and access all of their pinned sites. I don't know how typical I am, but I house close to 100 individual Web sites as Favorites, all organized into folders and a few sub-folders. Since I know where each site is stored, I can easily drill to the right folder to open that site.

Pinning Web sites allows for no such organization. You can't neatly tuck Web sites into specific folders, since the Metro UI doesn't allow for folders. Each pinned site is simply added to the list of tiles on the Start screen.

You can move your Web site tiles around the screen to order them by URL or category or some other method. You can create and name a group for Web sites to separate it from other tiles. But as you add more pinned sites, the simplicity and convenience of using them goes out the window. Trying to scroll through dozens and dozens of tiles to find the right one can become an unwieldy process.

The organization is even clumsier in the browser itself where you can't move your pinned sites around the screen. They're simply tiled in the order in which you added them. So the more sites you add, the more difficult it becomes to find the ones you need.

On the plus side, you can access a fair number of Web sites without having to pin them.

The Metro version of IE10 keeps a history of sites you've recently visited, all accessible from the main screen. The browser also can tap into a large number of popular sites across the Internet, handy for destinations you have yet to visit. So if you start typing Netflix or YouTube or Amazon, a tile for the site will automatically pop up, sparing you from having to enter the full URL.

I like many aspects of Metro IE. It's clean and simple and removes all distractions, allowing the Web site to take center stage. Overall, I think that people who don't maintain too many sites may find the Metro flavor a smooth ride.

But desktop browser users who store a lot of sites as Favorites are likely to be frustrated by the inability to fully organize them in the Metro edition.