Why You Should Upgrade Your Web Browser

Computer and BookEvery time a company announces that they are going to stop supporting a piece of software, folks start asking me if they should upgrade. It happened with Windows XP, it happened with Internet Explorer 7, and now it’s happening with Internet Explorer 8-10.

OK, so, every time Microsoft announces they are going to stop supporting a piece of software, folks start asking me if they should upgrade. I’m not trying to be unfair to Microsoft here; at a certain point, you have to stop supporting your software, because continuing to maintain it takes away resources you could be using to create the next product.

Microsoft will stop supporting Internet Explorer versions 8, 9, and 10 on January 12th, 2016, and, let’s face it, if you are still running a web browser that was originally released when Oasis was still together, it’s time for you to upgrade.

Why Should You Upgrade

Well, the most important reason to upgrade is because Microsoft will longer be releasing updates to the outdated browsers. While that might not sound horrible, any time a security vulnerability or bug is discovered in a program, an upgrade is required to fix it. So, after the software is no longer supported, no one is fixing issues that could allow people with bad intentions to run nefarious code on your computer.

Another important reason to upgrade is that old browsers can make websites difficult or impossible to use. We simply don’t design web pages the same way in 2016 that we did in 2009. Many frameworks (like Foundation) don’t even work in IE8, so you might not even be able to use the website you are trying to use.

Finally, maybe the best reason to upgrade, is that Internet Explorer 11 is a pretty good browser. It isn’t my personal browser of choice, but it’s far better than any other version that Microsoft has ever released. Give it a chance.

Why Should You Not Upgrade

“Compatibility Issues.”

It’s what I always hear from folks that say they can’t upgrade their version of Internet Explorer. Because the new version will be incompatible with some web application that they have to use, they are stuck with IE8. Or, (the horror) IE7.

I won’t get into all the reasons that I think this is a awful reason to not upgrade your browser, but I will say that if the web application being used requires a web browser that no longer has security support, then the web application is likely to have security issues as well.

If you find yourself caught in this trap, I highly recommend finding out exactly what applications you are using that require the outdated web browser, and then only using the web browser for those applications. For everything else, give Firefox, Chrome, or any other up-to-date web browser a try. Either of these two are easy to download and setup, and will at least provide you with the updated security that an unsupported version of Internet Explorer won’t.

Beyond “Compatibility Issues,” there would also be the possibility that your computer doesn’t have the recommended resources for running IE 11, but they are fairly low; it’s pretty likely that if your computer doesn’t have the resources that Internet Explorer requires that Windows has ground to a halt already.

Best Of All…

…it’s free.

Go ahead. Upgrade. Your computer will thank you.

Open Source Alternative: Firefox Web Browser

It never fails; when I tell people that my computer is filled with software that can be downloaded from the Internet, they assume that it’s all stolen. Then the open source software discussion begins.

I reassure them that, in fact, it is 100% legal and that people give their software away for free all the time. I tell them that, yes, I am serious.  I explain that it is, in fact, very high quality, secure and, yes, legal. When all else fails, I tell them that, chances are, their web server is running open source software now; occasionally, they ask me if they should upgrade their web server.

If you didn’t know that there is software out there that you can use legally, free, you are not alone. And if you think that you’re not technologically savvy enough to use it, you are most likely wrong. We’re going to take a look at some open source alternatives with a series of posts spotlighting just a few of the ones that I use.

Today’s entry: Firefox Web Browser.

Firefox is probably one of the best known pieces of open source software around, so you may have already heard of it. Firefox is the second most used browser out there. It’s been around for a long time (its first release was way back in the Bronze Age of the Internet… 2002), and actually grew out of the old web browser Netscape Navigator, which was first released in 1994. If we consider that the true birthday, it pre-dates Internet Explorer by almost a year.

So, with almost three times as many people using Internet Explorer, why should you make the move to Firefox?

  • It’s more secure. Security bugs are fixed in a matter of days, compared to weeks or sometimes months for Internet Explorer. Another security advantage is that anyone can look at the code of Firefox, so it is easier to discover security issues.
  • It runs on basically everything. Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iPhone/iPod/iPad. Pretty much you name it.
  • It comes in a crazy number of languages. Currently over 80. Even Esperanto.
  • Hey. It’s free.

If you are ready to give it a try, you can download Firefox from their website. Give it a try, and let me know what you think.

IE Browser Share Drops Under 50%

According to StatCounter, Microsoft Internet Explorer’s share of the browser market dropped to 49.87% in the month of September. This should not come as a shock to StatCounter, at least, as they have been watching IE’s share gradually fall over the last several years.

Firefox checked in second in September at a steady 31.5%. Google’s Chrome continued to grow to 11.54%, three times what it was last September.