The year was 2001. Temba Tsheri became the youngest person to summit Everest at 16 years old; the ‘foot and mouth’ outbreak hit the UK for the first time in 34 years and September saw events that shook the whole world! Also in this year, Microsoft released 2 ‘revolutionary’ products in Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6 (IE6). Now we are in 2011 and after 10 years people are, worryingly, still using IE6 as their web browser.
Since its launch, there have many concerns regarding the security and vulnerabilities discovered in IE6. In June 2004 an attacker used security holes in the software to insert spam-sending software on an unknown number of end-users causing users to infect their computers with malicious software merely by viewing a web page. Infected sites included several financial websites.
The other major issue with IE6 is that it’s now 10 years old. Technologies have been launched since 2001 that have greatly improved users online experiences by allowing easier interaction on website and also allowing the possibility of faster loading times. But with these being launch after IE6, or course… they don’t work. For this reason, many web developers do not code to cater for this need as it adds a lot of time and money onto project.
Microsoft has released many successors to IE6 over the years.
Microsoft have also recently announced that they are already developing a successor to the recently released IE9, with IE10 projected at being launched in 2012 along with the new Operating System Windows 8.
These newer, more modern browsers have reduced security issues and some cater for more modern technologies (but no browser is perfect).
That’s right, even Microsoft themselves are encouraging consumers to stop using one of their products. They’ve even launched a campaign to reduce the usage of the browser, with an accompanying website that is dedicated to watching Internet Explorer 6 usage drop to less than 1% worldwide, so more websites can choose to drop support for Internet Explorer 6, saving hours of work for web developers. The campaign has many large followers, including iStockphoto, National Express and CNET.
As some of you may have read recently, Google has announced that it is no longer supporting Internet Explorer 6 for their online products (Google Docs, Gmail, Calendar, Talk and Sites). The move is part of a campaign to stop the use of ageing browsers which are thought to be insecure and not sophisticated enough to handle the latest web technologies.
IE6 isn’t the only ageing browser no longer being supported by Google. Internet Explorer 7 (now 5 years old), Safari 3 (now 4 years old, succeeded by Safari 4) and Firefox 3.5 (only 2 years old, but latest version is Firefox 4) are also being given the chop.
From 1 August, Google will only provide support for what it calls “modern browsers”. By this Google means the latest versions and important prior releases of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari.
The encouragement has been aimed at upgrading from Internet Explorer 6 to one of the more modern browsers, but you don’t have to go for IE9 or IE8. There are many other browsers out there that might better suit your needs. The other 4 in the top 5 most popular modern browsers in the market are Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Opera.
The youngest of the top 5 uses a more minimalistic approach to browsing, getting rid of the clutter that surrounds many other browsers and allows you more space to do what you opened the browser to do… surf the web!
If you use Google’s other online products, such as Calendar or Gmail, there are simple Extensions that allow easy integration into your browser so you can access everything you need from one screen. It’s less prone to crashes than some other browsers, as each tab runs separately from the others, so a crash in one of them shouldn’t bring down the whole programme. This browser also does something that all other browsers should do… it upgrades itself with any update releases without bothering you with “Do you want to upgrade?” boxes appearing, or worse still… not even bothering. This way, you’re always up to date.
Choose this if: You want one of the fastest browsing experiences; you use Google products a lot (not just for searching); you like an uncluttered screen.
Microsoft’s main contender for the better part of the last 7 years, it has slowly eaten away at Microsoft’s market share. Firefox is easy-to-use, secure and – because of the thousands of user-created add-ons you can install to change and improve how Firefox works – easy to customise to your particular needs. Whatever you want to do, there’s a good chance someone else has already had the same idea and created an add-on to do just that. Most modern browsers now have add-ons like this, but Firefox leads the way. The active Firefox community means that any security flaws – which all browsers will have – are usually spotted and fixed extremely quickly.
Choose this if: Customising your browser is important to you, and you want to have the most control over your browsing experience; you want a reliable and easy-to-use alternative to Internet Explorer.
Apple’s own browser is exactly the kind of thing you would expect from Apple. It is clean, stylish and the main focus is on usability. Safari has been proven as the fastest browser on the market. The most recent versions of Safari have followed Google Chrome with the minimalistic look, which has proven a very popular aspect in the success of Chrome.
Choose this if: You want a speedy and stylish browsing experience; you’re used to working with Apple products.
Last, but by no means least, here’s a little gem that never really gained the widespread popularity of the other browsers in the market. Many of the features that now come as standard in other browsers were pioneered by Opera. In the current version of Opera, there is a feature called ‘Opera Turbo’ which compresses web pages down to a smaller size (memory wise). This means that if you’re on a relatively slow Internet connection, now you don’t have to go and make a cup of tea or take the dog for a walk while you are waiting for pages to load. The next version of Opera is already being talked about as taking the crown for the fastest browser on the market when it is released in the not too distant future.
Choose this if: You’re on a slow internet connection; you like being ahead of the game.
You’ve just been given some of the reasons why you should seriously upgrade your browser, and also some of the alternatives to Internet Explorer, so what are you waiting for? Get a better, faster, and safer online experience!
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