If you’re using a computer running the Microsoft Windows operating system, you might be thinking that your only choice of web browser is Internet Explorer (IE). After all, it’s the only one that shows up on the computer’s desktop when you first turn it on. Most of the Mac users I’ve talked to seem content with Safari, but the Windows folks are growing increasingly dissatisfied with IE, and most think they’re stuck with it.
One of the problems with Internet Explorer is the annoying pop-up ads that plague computer users while browsing through the web. Third-party software developers sell or even give away pop-up blockers, one of which comes with the handy Google toolbar. But they vary in their effectiveness and can be difficult for novices to find on the web, download, and install.
Also, partly because of its popularity, Internet Explorer is especially vulnerable to viruses, worms, and other little bugs. The logic here is that hackers want the most bang for their time and effort, so they target the largest audience: IE users.
And let’s face it, Microsoft has let their web browser languish for the last year or so, when they could have been adding cool features and improving its compatibility with web standards. Why bother, though? They’ve already won the browser war, right?
Not so fast. Other browsers really are available, and at least one, which I’ve been using for the past couple months, is quite a bit more advanced than Microsoft’s product. Firefox has been my default browser ever since a former student of mine told me about it. Sure, I still have Internet Explorer on my computer—doesn’t everyone?—and I’ll use it if I absolutely have to, if a web site uses some proprietary Microsoft extension. But the rest of the time, I’ll be using Firefox.
Did I mention that it’s free? Just go to the site and download it. And if you’re not sure how to do that, or you’re concerned about getting the Internet Explorer “favorites” exported to the new browser, check out the simple instructions: Switching from Internet Explorer to Mozilla Firefox.
The basic program already has some great features that IE lacks, such as browser “tabs” that let you have multiple pages open in one window and jump from one to another easily. But if you’re like me and you get all geeked out about things like this, there are plenty of “extensions” to boost the functionality and “skins” to change the appearance.
Oh, and by the way, seems I’m not the only one switching over. Paul Boutin published an article about Firefox in the online magazine Slate.com: “Are the Browser Wars Back? How Mozilla’s Firefox Trumps Internet Explorer.” The crazy thing about that is that Slate.com is owned by Microsoft. So much for corporate control over editorial content.
Here’s the kicker: The “Switching” article links to a notice by US-CERT, a division of the Homeland Security Department, that recommends using an alternative browser.
So, is it time for you to dump Internet Explorer?