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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Mozilla Firefox 4.0

Three years have passed since the release of Firefox 3, three years of conquer, placing Mozilla’s web browser as the second most widely used browser. With approximately 30% of worldwide usage, Firefox follows the all time winner Internet Explorer. The release of Firefox 4 marks the end of a successful era, and the beginning of a new war against its major competitor Internet Explorer 9. Probably as a response to last week’s major release from Microsoft, Mozilla decided to reveal faster than expected its new web browser. Therefore Firefox 4 is now available for download and ready to be used by user’s worldwide.

read full review | download Mozilla Firefox 4.0

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Microsoft’s online flagship – Internet Explorer 9

After two years since Internet Explorer 8 was launched, Microsoft has released the final version of its latest web browser, Internet Explorer 9, available for download. Thanks to powerful competitors (Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox) and the declining usage of Internet Explorer in general, Microsoft was forced to rebuild Internet Explorer not only to run faster (and to be more responsive), simpler and more secure, but also to be redeem itself in the eyes of web developers and standards-savvy designers against the bad reputation of being a non standards compliant browser.

Read full reviewDownload Internet Explorer 9

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Internet Explorer 9 final version officially released

Microsoft Corp. today announced the launch of the latest version of the world’s most-used browser with the release of Windows Internet Explorer 9 in 39 languages at an event at the SXSW Interactive conference. Internet Explorer 9 is Microsoft’s most-downloaded browser beta of all time, with more than 40 million downloads, and it has already has gained more than 2 percent usage on Windows 7. Already more than 250 top sites from around the globe are taking advantage of the capabilities in Internet Explorer 9 to deliver differentiated experiences to their customers, with many featured on http://www.BeautyoftheWeb.com. Together, these partners reach more than 1 billion active Internet users on the Web.

“The best experience of the Web is on Windows with Internet Explorer 9,” said Dean Hachamovitch, corporate vice president, Windows Internet Explorer, at Microsoft. “Today, the Web can unlock the power and performance of the best PC hardware through Windows and Internet Explorer 9. Websites also can act more like applications within Windows 7, with features such as Pinned Sites. In less than a year, Internet Explorer 9 went from early preview to final release with the help of hardware partners and the Web community.”

Top Features:

Hardware Acceleration Video

Without hardware acceleration, browsers only use about 10% of the processing power your PC has to offer. Internet Explorer 9 unlocks that other 90%. With Internet Explorer 9, we’re tapping into your graphics processor through Windows to harness the full potential of your PC. High-definition videos are smooth, graphics are clearer and more responsive, colors are truer, and websites are more interactive. Combined with our new JavaScript engine, the web now performs like an application installed directly on your computer.

Sites Respect Your Privacy
Tracking Protection helps you stay in control.

Some of the content, images, and ads that you see on websites are provided by third-party websites. While this content can be useful to both you and your favorite websites, it allows third-party websites to potentially track your behavior across multiple sites. Tracking Protection in Internet Explorer 9 provides an added level of control and choice about the information that third-party websites can potentially use to track your browsing activity.

To use this feature, simply go to the Settings menu (under the gear), select Safety and then Tracking Protection. Then enable your personalized list. Once you’ve enabled a Tracking Protection List, the settings apply to all the sites you browse to and are preserved each time you begin a new browsing session. Tracking Protection stays on until you decide to turn it off.

Sites Take Center Stage
More room for what you want to see.

Internet Explorer 9 features a simplified yet enhanced interface to put the focus on websites. The address bar and search bar have been combined into the One Box. Tabs stack along the very top. And the entire frame is significantly slimmer. Combined, this gives you much more room for the stuff you’re looking at online.

Sites Amaze
Rich graphics and responsive performance immerse you.

Without hardware acceleration, browsers only use about 10% of the processing power your PC has to offer. Internet Explorer 9 unlocks that other 90%. With Internet Explorer 9, we’re tapping into your graphics processor through Windows to harness the full potential of your PC. High-definition videos are smooth, graphics are clearer and more responsive, colors are truer, and websites are more interactive. Combined with our new JavaScript engine, the web now performs like an application installed directly on your computer.

Sites Are Instant
No browser puts you closer to your favorite sites.

Not only do sites load incredibly fast in Internet Explorer 9, sites can also be pinned to your taskbar for one-click access. To pin a website, just grab the tab and drag it down to your Windows 7 Taskbar!

Jump Lists
Once a site is pinned, you can right-click on the icon to get a list that directs you to particular content on the site.

Notifications
Some pinned sites can also notify you that content has changed on the site, so you know immediately.

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