When I was going through the browser statistics for the visitors on UK2.NET the other day I was amazed by the number of people who are still stuck on Internet Explorer 6.
Whether or not this number is so high because people don’t know how to do upgrade or if they are running an illegal version of Windows and therefore can’t upgrade to Internet Explorer 7 is hard to say.
But one thing is for sure – it’s time to upgrade that dusty old browser!
Why should I upgrade my browser?
There are hundreds of reasons why you should consider upgrading from Internet Explorer 6 but instead of going through all of them I’ll try to highlight the major ones:
Internet Explorer 6 contains just about as many (security) holes as a Swiss cheese – fortunately most of the new browsers don’t suffer from this. Some of the added security features that come with most of these browsers are:
This brilliant feature will warn you if you are about to enter a fradulent website. Read more.
Websites can no longer install programs on your computer without your explicit permission. Say farewell to annoying trojans and spyware!
Most new browers like Mozilla Firefox are automatically updated to counter any security holes that are discovered.
By far one of my favourite features of the new generation of browsers. Instead of having each webpage open in a new browser window cluttering up your task bar you can have all of them located within one window. Sweet!
In some browsers like Mozilla Firefox you are able to install 3rd party add-ons so you can add additional functionality to your browser. My favourite Add-Ons for Firefox that I use when I’m developing are Firebug, Web Developer and HTML Validator but there are of course many more.
Better HTML and CSS support
The new generation of browsers have added lots of new ways to display websites and add fancy functionality (read: AJAX). This means that your browsing experience could become a whole lot better and at the same time you would make life so much easier for all us developers as it is a lot easier to develop web pages for these browsers 🙂
So, what browsers can I choose from?
As I’m a big Firefox fan I’ve taken the liberty to put Firefox at the top of the list 🙂
There are of course more browsers to choose from, but the browsers listed above are at the time of writing the most popular ones.
A bit of browser history
Back in 2001 a small company in Redmond, USA called Microsoft launched a new version of their popular browser called Internet Explorer 6. This was a welcome upgrade to many as it introduced a plethora of new features and bug fixes.
Unfortunately this also meant the final demise of the only real competitor in the browser market – Netscape. Netscape was quite a dominant browser in the mid 90’s but as Internet Explorer was shipped with Windows (especially 98 / XP) it had a hard time competing with that since most people would think of the internet as “that little blue ‘E’ in the quick launch bar”.
With most of the competition out of the way the further development of Internet Explorer was kept to a minimum. The only real updates that would surface would be fixes for bugs and security holes – which there were quite a few of.
Fortunately other corporations weren’t resting on their laurels and this became clear in November, 2004 when the Mozilla Corporation launched Firefox 1.0. This launch marked the start of a new era in the browser war as Firefox sported excellent features such as Tabbed Browsing, 3rd party Add-On’s, RSS feed support, increased security and better CSS and HTML rendering.
Mozilla slowly, but steadily gained market share as time went by. To begin with it was mostly tech-savvy people working in the IT industry that made the switch from IE6 to Firefox, but after some time its popularity among the general population increased.
This increase in Firefox’s market share made the people in Redmond worry and after a while they finally started the development of Internet Explorer 7. In October 2006 Internet Explorer 7 was launched – taking them no less than 5 years to go from version 6 to version 7.
Hopefully the introduction of the new players in the browser war will keep Microsoft on their toes so it doesn’t take another 5 years until Internet Explorer 8 surfaces.
A final note
If you are with me this far I hope you’ve been convinced to upgrade your browser. No matter which of the next generation browsers you end up going with it can’t be much worse than Internet Explorer 6 so you will be doing yourself a big favor.
As I’m writing this it is not possible to upgrade to IE7 if you are running a non-genuine (read: pirated) version of Windows, and my guess is that this is the primary reason to why IE6 is still so high on the list of browsers today. But as stated above there are several other awesome alternatives to Internet Explorer 7.
Edit: Ap0kalipSe informed me that IE7 has recently been made available for everyone – even those not running a genuine Windows installation.