Time to get your Browser On

Ok, Microsoft killed IE8, IE9 and IE10. So… now what?

Introduction
About a week or so ago as of this writing, Microsoft effectively killed IE8, IE9 and IE10 by ending security updates for these three versions of their venerable browser, Internet Explorer. The only versions of Windows that will be able to use IE9 or IE10 after this is Windows Vista SP2 and Windows Server 2008 SP2.

However, like Windows XP, not many people are using Vista any longer. It was never a very popular operating system, being very overly resource intensive to the point of being difficult to run on contemporary computers. Upgrading to Windows 7 from Windows Vista was always a better alternative than trying to stick with Vista, in my opinion. But that’s another column for another time.

For now, if you were using Windows 7 or earlier, and you’ve been using IE8, IE9 or IE10, you have a choice to make. The list list is fairly short:

  1. You can upgrade to IE11 – If you’re using Windows 7 or Windows 8.x, you can follow the upgrade instructions here or you can upgrade directly by going here
  2. You can upgraded to Windows 10 – You can upgrade your PC to Windows 10 here. Once you do that, you can try IE11 or you can use Edge.
  3. You can upgrade to an alternative browser – You have a few choices: Firefox, Google Chrome or Opera

In my opinion, your best option, is the last option – upgrade to an alternative browser. I’ll get to why in a sec. I want to touch briefly on why the first two options may not be what you need.

Upgrading to IE11 can be problematic. At the end of the day, IE11 is still IE. IE is still a mess and still pretty much breaks the internet. IE11 still has a GREAT deal of legacy IE code in it. Its not something that I would want to run on any of my computers. If you have cause or reason to ditch ANY version of IE, not only would I do it; but I wouldn’t choose another version of IE to replace it. That’s probably some of the most sage advice you’re ever going to get from me or any other tech pundit – IE. Avoid it like the plague.

I’ve also had a GREAT deal to say about Windows 10 over the past year. It isn’t the field of sunshine and daisies that Microsoft has made it out to be. It has a number of different issues that I’ve outlined in a number of different articles. You can see some of them – perhaps the most serious – here; and I’ve outlined issues with upgrading legacy equipment here. There are some key take aways that you should be aware of:

  1. Microsoft is pushing everyone to upgrade to Windows 10. Period. They’re making it harder and harder to stay on Windows 7 or Windows 8.x
  2. Some Windows 7 or Windows 8.x PC’s weren’t meant, intended or are recommended candidates for a Windows 10 upgrade. Despite what Microsoft says about ANY PC running either Windows 7 or Windows 8.x being able to run the OS, its not always a good idea, especially on a tablet-styled ultrabook. That device may be running an optimized version of Windows, and the OEM or retailer may not officially support Windows 10 on that device. I hope I made that VERY clear in the article I wrote on my experience with Windows 10 on an officially unsupported device.

I’d even go so far to say that the low end Surface Pro 3 (with the i3 processor and 64GB of SSD storage) isn’t a good candidate for Windows 10. The i3 just doesn’t have enough punch.

Viable Options – A New Browser
Let’s run through these quickly. There’s one that I’d like to concentrate on.

Chrome
Its one of the most popular browsers in the world, but I actually think my malware issues occurred due to a security issue in the browser. I’m still having email issues and I have 2-factor authentication enabled. Once I finally and completely shed this bug, I’m never using Chrome again. I’d drop Gmail too, but I’ve not too much tied to that Google Apps email address.

Firefox
Interestingly enough, Firefox is an thought-provoking choice. Its built on the same core as Chrome – the Mozilla Project. Its similar enough to be like Chrome so that if you’re used to using it, you’re on familiar ground. However, its different enough to be its own animal and not susceptible to every bug and security hole that effects Chrome.

Opera
opera_logoOpera is a compelling alternative browser choice for a number of reasons. The most compelling of which is that it’s not one of the most widely known choices. I’ll get to why this is a huge oversite and why it might be YOUR browser of choice in due order.

Speed
Opera uses the Blink web browsing engine, which was developed as part of the Chromium project. The Chromium project was a joint effort between google, Opera, Intel and Samsung, among others. The engine is similar to that found in both Chrome and Firefox. It’s also largely responsible for Opera’s ability to crunch through web pages quickly.

Recently, Opera went head to head with Chrome, Firefox, IE and Microsoft Edge in a Best of Breed web browser competition conducted by PC World. In that test, a selection of over 30 web sites were selected. Each browser opened each site and page loads were timed and evaluated.

During this test, Opera turned out to be the best performing browser. Opera 31, with no Flash, loaded pages in just 1.64 sec. With a Flash plug-in, it required only 2.21 sec to open a page. It outperformed Google Chrome 44 (1.8 sec and 2.33 sec, respectively), and was much faster than Firefox 39 (2.6 sec. and 5.59 sec).

Opera has also gone through an extensive code refactoring. The software is really light on its feet and is less resource intensive. It’s really quick. Of everything I’m going to mention about Opera, this is probably its most compelling use factor. There are a few reasons why people use specific browsers. They either have a specific look and feel, or they offer a specific plugin or extension, or they’re fast.

The state of customization or extensions (see below) is easy to find. Most modern browsers offer ways to do this. However, at the end of the day, it’s the speed at which a particular browser renders a web page that keeps it as your browser of choice. Period. Opera has clearly demonstrated that it can play in the same internets as the big boys, AND it can outperform them.

Security
The software is under active development and security updates are released regularly. The software will also auto-update when new versions and security patches are available. You will never have to update the software on your own.

At the end of the day, staying secure is probably one of the biggest reasons why people have moved away from any and all versions of Internet Explorer (and likely one of the biggest reasons why Microsoft stopped supporting earlier versions of Internet Explorer). When Microsoft integrated it into the OS back in the Windows 98 days, it really screwed things up. It brought a browser’s insecurities to the heart of your operating system. Since Opera isn’t built on the core foundations of Microsoft Windows AND is cross platform (you can use it on OS X, Linux as well as Windows)

Eye Candy
If you’re really interested in customizing the look of your browser, Opera supports browser themes and background images. You can choose from their online catalog or use your own image. Thanks to their catalog, you can probably change themes as often as the wind changes directions.

Customizations
If you’re interested in enhancing the functionality of your browser, then you need to check out Opera’s online catalog of browser extensions. You can get weather forecasts. You can automatically translate web pages to your native language. You can install online security and ad-blocking software that integrates with the browser. Extensions enhance Opera, making it truly your own.

Opera also adjusts to your browsing habits, including how you search for content. You can choose one of the predefined, default search engines, like Google or Yahoo, or if it’s not already on the list, you can customize search by adding your own favorite search engine.

Off the Beaten Path
Of all of the modern browsers that I’ve seen in use here in the US, Opera isn’t high on the list. While that may make you think you should make another choice, it really shouldn’t.

Opera has many of the same features and functions of the more popular browsers, but it flies under the radar. Browser specific or targeted attacks shouldn’t effect it, as most malware is likely to target security holes in Chrome and Firefox.

Conclusion
Look, just because Microsoft has killed IE8, IE9 and IE10 doesn’t mean you HAVE to use Internet Explorer 11 or even Windows 10 if you don’t want to (well… at least for now, as far as Windows 10 is concerned. Microsoft is making it harder and harder to stay on Windows 7 or Windows 8.x).

However, if you’re concerned about finding a better browser, you can choose one of the top remaining, two; OR, you can go a bit off reservation and take a long, serious look at Opera.

It’s faster than Chrome and Firefox. Its secure. It’s easy to throw a coat of paint on and customize, making it new when you need it to be new. Based on all of this and the fact that is likely off most malware writer’s radar, Opera presents itself as a serious contender for your internet browsing needs.

It’s not rocket science, kids, but it is going to stop you and make you consider your options… IE is a train wreck. Chrome and Firefox are the most popular modern browser choices but have their own issues. Opera offers all the benefits that they do, but offer better performance and better security.

Are you using IE8, IE9 or IE10? Are you concerned about using IE11 or having to move to Windows 10 when you’ve already decided, its not for you ? Are you confused about what alternative browser is best for you? Have you used Opera lately? Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area, below, and give me your thoughts on browser security, and all of the alternatives I’ve out line here? Have I missed something or another alternative browser? Let me know in the comments section, below!

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Microsoft to Release Another Browser

But it’s not all sunshine and daisies, like you’d think…

Microsoft to Release Another BrowserHonestly, I’ve struggled with this bit of news over the past couple of days. Initially, I wasn’t going to cover it, because there really isn’t too much to say about it. There aren’t any screenshots. There isn’t an alpha or beta version to play with; and knowing Microsoft, things could change long before ANYTHING is released. However, the latest scuttlebutt out of Redmond has Microsoft working on a new browser for Windows 10.

There’s good news and bad news related to this. The good news, obviously, is that Microsoft is leaving IE behind. The bad news is that they aren’t moving to WebKit. They’re sticking with Trident – IE’s current rendering engine – and it looks like even THAT engine is getting a rewrite; at least according to Brad Sams at Neowin.

According to my friend, Mary Jo Foley, Trident’s rewrite is part of an effort not to (necessarily) replace IE; but to create a new, light weight browser, currently code named, “Spartan.” While Spartan isn’t IE12, it does seem to be a new animal all together. The new browser should look and feel more like popular WebKit browsers, Chrome and Firefox, and it will support extensions. All of this is going to be done as part of the work behind Windows 10.

Microsoft may or may not show off their new browsers on 2015-01-21 when the company reveals the Windows 10 Consumer Preview. It’s very possible that it won’t be in a state to show off until later in 2015.

What Microsoft decides to do with IE and the IE brand is also up in the air. MJF made no mention of Microsoft discontinuing IE or totally replacing it with Spartan or any other new or revised browser.

All of this is a bit annoying if you ask me. IE has been such a pain in the butt over the past 15 or so years. Its broken the internet a number of times, and has really created more problems for web developers than it solved during that time as well. Why Microsoft is hell bent on staying with their own, proprietary rendering engine, is also completely beyond me. If they’re going to write something new for Windows 10, and knows that their development community and partners (as well as the general public) has issues with IE and Trident, why not totally embrace their new philosophy of customer – not Microsoft – first, and dump Trident for WebKit?

I’m fairly certain that the world won’t see the new browser and kick their love of Chrome, Firefox, Safari and other WebKit compatible browsers to the curb. Unfortunately, we’ll just have to wait and see where Microsoft takes this new effort, and how it’s received not only by the tech press and tech savvy, but the general public as well…. and if there’s one thing I really HATE doing when it comes to technology is, “waiting and seeing.”

What do you think? Is a new MS browser a good thing? Is sticking with Trident good or bad, regardless of its pending rewrite? Is this something that you’re looking forward to as part of Windows 10, or is this something that just seems to be an unneeded, unwanted, or misdirected effort? Why not sound off in the Discussion area below and let me know what you think?

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Browse the internet with ease with Microsoft’s premier browser for Windows and Windows RT.

Windows is perhaps the most widely used operating system in the history of computing.  In the enterprise, you can literally accept no substitute.  Most people find it a must have in the work place.  With more and more applications for both home and work use shifting to mobile, online and touch-enabled applications, I’m glad that Windows’ default web browser, Internet Explorer is keeping pace. Its perhaps one of the most widely used Windows-based web browsers around.

With the implementation of Windows 8 and Windows RT, Microsoft has taken a different tact to computing. They’re embracing a new, clean and uncomplicated interface, and IE is following suite.  IE gets out of the way when you browse. Its controls appear when you need them and vanish when you don’t, giving you full screen browsing, allowing you to see the web, not IE. When you need the controls, an easy flick of your finger can bring them back.

Speaking of fingers, all of IE’s tabs are finger sized. You won’t have to fumble with on screen elements that aren’t tablet-centric or meant for interaction with a mouse. IE 10 is meant to be touched and interacted with.  For example, IE automatically detects which page is next so it’s easy to swipe from page to page with your finger. IE 10 is fast.  The browser is quicker to start and to render pages than previous versions.

With security being such a hot topic, especially for Microsoft, IE 10 has security measures built in.  It uses the leading malware protection, blocking up to 40% more malware than other, similar apps. If privacy is a major concern, IE 10 also supports Do Not Track as well as implementing SmartScreen filtering that helps keep your personal information hidden from the public.

The windowed version of IE 10 is decent.  The MetroUI version that comes with Windows RT is a bit difficult for some to get used to. Unfortunately, the full screen or tablet version of IE 10 breaks Microsoft’s previous Window paradigm, requiring most everyone to get used to a different way of viewing the web.  While Microsoft may tout this as one of its newer features, not everyone is going to see it as a value add.  The app’s web rendering engine though is pretty awesome; and its performance may help you push aside its UI or presentation layer and just concentrate on the web as opposed to how it displays it.

Download Internet Explorer 10

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Internet Explorer 10 Release Preview available for Windows 7

A week ago Microsoft released Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7 users. While still not in its final version, the browser is served as a Release Preview in 32 bit and 64 bit form.

Initially Microsoft released Internet Explorer 10 only for Windows 8 as part of it. Being directly integrated into the system, many users have questioned Microsoft’s decision not to make the 10th version of the browser also available for Windows 7 a year ago. As a consequence to this, it was imminent the Windows 7 version to be available in this period of the year.

At a first look, the Release Preview of Internet Explorer 10 is nearly identical to the version of the browser integrated into the Windows 8. The only core difference is that Adobe Flash is not integrated into the Windows 7 / Windows Server 2012 version like it is in the Windows 8 version. The reason of having a built-in version of Adobe Flash into Windows 8 version of IE 10 is that the browser does not support browser plugins.

In case you want to try out the browser in Windows 7, you should know that the installation of Internet Explorer 10 Preview will replace the current version of the browser on the system. A restart will be required to complete the installation. If you are not satisfied with its functionality, you can uninstall it from the Updates panel of your operating system.

download Internet Explorer 10 Release Preview

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Are you a fan of unfinished/test software? Head over to Internet Explorer 10

Almost four weeks have passed since the release of Internet Explorer 9 and Microsoft pushes out already, a preview build of Internet Explorer 10. Believe it or not but there is already a version which can be downloaded but it’s of course very much a preview release and is not recommended for anything except for the sake of testing.

According to Dean Hachamovitch – corporate vice president of Internet Explorer, Microsoft is only three weeks into Internet Explorer 10 development, but comfortable enough – they are showing off what they were building so far. Hachamovitch also said that Internet Explorer 10 will focus on HTML5 – the next-level programming language for the Internet browsing. On the IE Test Drive website, there is a demo showing the new features in action, highlighting 3D transforms, flexible layouts and gradients and quite a few more features. Hachamovitch also said that Internet Explorer 10 continues on IE 9 path, directly using what Windows provides and avoiding abstractions, layers and libraries that slow down your site and your experience.

We’re not sure how IE10 is going to be in the end but still, I believe that IE9 is a good start. On the other hand, Chrome 12 is already in beta phrase and Mozilla’s Firefox 5 have already been announced so the browser battle continues which is, of course, only in our benefits. If you’d like to try out this very early release of IE10, you can download a copy from IE Test Drive website.

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