INTERNET EXPLORER 6 was a good web browser... but that was 10 years ago! Are you still using it? If you are, please take a moment to read this page, and consider upgrading.
A little history
It was the turn of the millennium and the Internet was exploding into our lives; a time when many people and many large corporations invested heavily in this ‘new technology’.
Internet Explorer was the only serious browser at the time, and with nothing to compare against, people were unaware of its flaws. Web developers simply created their sites to accommodate its quirks, and everyone was happy.
About five years later when alternative browsers started to appear – browsers that adhered to web standards and embraced the latest advancements – it became apparent just how problematic IE6 was.
Because so many people had invested in computer technology at the same time, a large percentage of Internet users were all using IE6. Many were hesitant to upgrade and reluctant to experiment with one of the non-Microsoft browsers; after all, the Internet seemed to work just fine. But that was largely because much of it was designed around IE6.
Another stumbling block was the fact that some older versions of Windows simply weren’t compatible with newer versions of Internet Explorer.
Ten years later
The Internet has evolved massively and Internet Explorer 6 is no longer up to the job. Its problems can broadly be divided into two categories:
- Lack of support for modern web standards.
- Security issues.
Campaigns have been established to encourage users to upgrade to newer versions of Internet Explorer or switch to different browsers, and some websites have dropped support for IE6 entirely.
This takes care of some of the many bugs while adding support for some of the missing features. The downside, however, is that what by today’s standards is already a slow browser, is having to work even harder.
Why should I upgrade
It’s a bit like owning a 30 year old car. The local garage can probably keep it running for you, but they cannot make it drive like the latest model. Nor can they upgrade it to have all the latest safety and security features expected of 21st century motoring.
As I said, IE6 simply isn’t capable of doing a lot of what we expect from the Internet today. Incidentally, even the latest version (currently IE8) is several years behind some of the independent browsers like Firefox and Chrome.
But it’s security that’s the biggest problem. It’s not so much that Microsoft designed a woefully insecure browser; it’s the fact that the threats we face today while surfing were simply inconceivable ten years ago. Some things can be patched, but others aren’t possible due to technological limitations.
So what can I do
- The simplest option is upgrade to the latest version of Internet Explorer if your operating system allows it. That means using Windows XP or newer.
- A second option – and the only option for older operating systems – is to install a different browser. I prefer Firefox. It’s been around since 2004, has the second largest market share, and is being constantly developed.
- If you work for a large corporation it’s more difficult. Your IT department is only too aware of the risks of maintaining such an antiquated browser, but they also know the headaches that accompany a major upgrade. Any lost productivity due to system down-time will be on their heads, so they choose to let sleeping dogs lie. All you can do is urge them to upgrade.
Internet Explorer 9
As of September 2010, Internet Explorer 9 (beta) has been released to the general public. The ‘beta’ part means that Microsoft is reasonably happy with it, although there could still be a few minor changes and bug fixes before the final release version.
First reviews suggest it’s a good browser, although still lacking a few features already present in Firefox and Chrome.
One big problem though; IE9 is only compatible with either Windows 7 or Vista SP2. Millions of computer users still using Windows XP – a very good and stable operating system – will be unable to upgrade to IE9. The only options are to stick with IE8 or install one of the alternative browsers.
What do you want to do now
Computers make it easier to do lots of things...
but most of them don’t need to be done!