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Choosing Your Browser aka “To IE Or Not To IE…”

Choosing Your Browser aka “To IE Or Not To IE…”

There comes a time when you just have to move on.. and that time has come for old Internet Explorer 6, 7, and 8.  If you are still using one of these older IE versions, we don’t blame you.  After all, IE6 is what shipped with Windows XP.. and IE7 and IE8 were used throughout Vista and Windows 7 deployments.  Until just recently the combo of Internet Explorer 6 and 7 remained the most-used browsers in the US.

However, the years have not been kind to IE6.  It is outdated by every standard.. speed, security, compliance with web standards, etc.  In fact there are entire websites dedicated to ridding the world of IE6 (see http://www.savethedevelopers.org/ for a whole slug of reasons why your friendly developer really wants you to stop using IE6).  IE7 and IE8 likewise have aged rather poorly due to Microsoft’s poor ‘implementation’ of web standards resulting in websites that simply do not work as expected.  Luckily, in recent years there have been some really good browsers released.

So what do we recommend?  We have four helpful tips based on what type of Internet user you are:

  • Are you a pure business user? Do you use your browser for Internet banking, vendor websites, tracking orders, etc?  Your best choice currently is Google Chrome (http://www.google.com/chrome).  It is fast, pure, and constantly being updated by Google for maximum security.  It doesn’t run lots of fancy plug-ins but it doesn’t need to..it is all business.  If you are wanting to standardize all your users on one web browser, we recommend Chrome.
  • Are you a web surfer? Do you get lots of links via e-mail and check out lots of websites for work or personal use?  Your best choice is Mozilla Firefox (http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/firefox.html).  It is pretty fast, has lots of add-ins, and can handle various types of web content with ease and with pretty solid security.   It is a larger download than Chrome and because it can be customized a great deal it might not be as ideal for large-scale deployments where standardization is the goal.
  • Are you an infrequent user or require compatibility with older websites? Do you only hop on the web from time to time or to do limited research?  Your best choice is Internet Explorer 10.  It is not the fastest browser or the most robust, but it is nicely integrated into Windows 8 (and can be loaded on Windows 7).  The built-in security options in IE10 are a major improvement over past versions.  However, some websites that require Internet Explorer will not work with IE10 because it is actually adhering to standards that the old IE’s ignored.  For these websites you can sometimes use IE10’s Compatibility Mode.
  • Are you a security savvy surfer? Do you surf with security in mind and want a browser that takes security as seriously as you do?  Your best browser is likely Mozilla Firefox and/or Google Chrome.  Heck, download both and switch between the two so as to never leave a complete trail anywhere.  Also the sandboxing feature in Chrome (and in development for Firefox) protects your system even when pages or code crash.

On last thing to consider.. as we mention above in the security-savvy portion.. it does not hurt to have one browser that you use for common surfing, and one that you ONLY use for online banking or other high-security functions.  By keeping one browser for just key functions you reduce the risk of cookies/malware/hacks impacting your most sensitive of logins/sites.  It is worth noting that here are ESG we suggest you consider having a dedicated PC that you only power on and use for banking or QuickBooks/Quicken/payroll functions.  That concept takes the idea of multiple browsers all the way to multiple computers.. each with their own purpose and relevant security structure.

>> Updated 5/20/2013 with IE10 information.