Why upgrade your browser?

To coincide with the new release of Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) this month, this article provides an overview as to what a browser is, and why you should upgrade to the latest version.

The Browser

A browser is a piece of software designed to view information on the internet, in the same way that Microsoft Outlook is designed to receive emails and Microsoft Word is designed to help create documents.

Statistics show that at the moment Internet Explorer 6 (released in 2002 and no longer supported by Microsoft) and is still used by 34% of people accessing the Internet (Feb 09, www.thecounter.com).

This is mainly because Microsoft includes Internet Explorer as the default browser in Windows XP and Vista.

How to find out which browser you are running

If you aren’t sure which browser you are currently using, you can click this link to find out which browser you are running

Reasons to upgrade your browser

Now that you know which browser you are running you might be thinking why should I change, or why do I need to update my browser? The simple answer is that you should always update on a regular basis. Some of the reasons are described below:

  1. New versions are more secure

    As new threats and new ways to harm your computer via the browser become known, the developers of the browsers have to fix these to keep your computer secure. The only way they can do this is to include these via an update. If you do not update, you do not get a more secure browser leaving you open to attack.

  2. New versions are faster

    With the new browser developers battling it out to get the upper hand and get you to use their product one area that has improved leaps and bounds, is the speed that they can process the page (loading the page due to broadband, but how the browser loads the page).

    We saw the most significant difference in page load times with the English-language Wikipedia home page and the MySpace home page. Chrome 2 Beta completed the job of loading Wikipedia in a mere 1.12 seconds, easily outpacing the competition. Internet Explorer 8 chugged to a second-place finish, loading the page in 2.24 seconds on average. Firefox 3.0.7 and Safari 4 Beta lagged behind, however, with average load times of 3.31 seconds and 3.38 seconds, respectively.

    As taken from PC World

  3. Improved browsing experience

    As with the speed issues, browsers are competing with new styling features for webpages that allow designers (such as ourselves) to add elements that were not possible in older versions. An example of this is below, where on a modern browsers the webpage elements would have rounded corners, whereas on an older version such as IE6, they are square.

    Click to enlarge - Example of rounded corners and some browser diffrences. IE6 vs FF3.0.7

    Click to enlarge – Example of rounded corners and some browser differences. IE6 vs FF3.0.7

    Apple has really pushed the boat out with Safari 4 and has included no less than 150 new features such as: Full page-zoom, Animations, font embedding and more. It is expected to be released mid 2009.

  4. Not all browsers render the page to look the same

    As all browsers handle the web page coding slightly differently, on some rare occasions the web page might look considerably different and may even appear to be broken. It is another good reason to update your browser to the latest version to get a full, rich web experience, shown in the way intended by the designer.

    In some cases, even newer browsers such as IE8 can render a page to look slightly different. Microsoft have included a button that will pull back the browser to handle as the version before. This is to safeguard in case the website appears broken, a user would hit this button.

    Click to enlarge

    Click to enlarge

What options of browsers are there? What do they offer?

Ok so you have decided that you want to update your browser and want to know what options there are and what they offer? Here is a list of the options;

  • Internet Explorer 8.

    ie-logo Internet Explorer 8 is Microsoft’s new browser that has just been released, it has some revolutionary features such as Ebay visual search, Delicious Bookmarks, Suggested Sites, a new security mode called ‘InPrivate’ and ‘Accelerators’, which are a form of selection-based search. View a full feature list here

    Download Internet Explorer 8

     

     

  • Firefox

    ff-logoFirefox has grown in popularity in the last couple of years, due to its security, speed, advanced design features and popularity of add-ons that you can install to customise your browser.
    Firefox also boasts a strong feature set including; Smart location Bar, One-Click Bookmarking, Password manager and lots more. View a full feature list here.

    Download Mozilla Firefox

  • Google Chrome

    chrome-logoGoogle Chrome is the youngest browser of the bunch, but it has hit the blocks running with an impressive feature set that includes; Application shortcuts, dynamic tabs, crash control, instant bookmarking and a lot more. View a full feature list here

    Download Google Chrome

  • Safari

    s-logoSafari has been around for many years, initially on the Mac since 2003, then more recently available the Iphone, Ipod Touch and Windows.

    The soon to be released Safari 4 is leading the field with new and inventive features, such as a “Top Sites” tool to display the user’s most visited sites in a 3D world and Cover Flow, a feature of Mac OS X. For the Windows version, Safari adopted a native Windows theme, rather than the previous Mac OS look employed. Safari 4 is expected to be out in the middle of 2009, but the feature list is available here

    Download Safari 3

  • Opera

    operaThe Opera Software company claims that Opera is “the fastest browser on Earth.” Opera too has the best support for some advanced design features and also implements built-in tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking, fraud protection, a download manager and BitTorrent client, a search bar, and a web feed aggregator. Opera comes with an e-mail client called Opera Mail and an IRC chat client built in, be sure to check it out
    Download Opera

The future for browsers

The browser developers are busy constantly working on new versions of the browsers and releasing them in to public.
Features you can expect to see and use;

  • Improved accessibility
  • Extended animation support by CSS
  • Even more security features
  • Text shadows
  • Audio and full video support
  • Even more plug-ins
  • and more…

Conclusion

There has never been a better time to swap your browser to the latest version. They are more secure, faster and in some cases you get a better browsing experience. With new versions coming out every couple of months we are in for a good ride.

Please note BF Internet holds no responsibility for software installed on your machine and or any data lost due to the process.