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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Browse the web in speed and style with Opera

opera_retina_iconChange is constant. If there’s one thing that you can count on staying the same, it’s the fact that things change. Case in point, Soft32 reviewed Opera Browser just over a year ago. At the time, I found Opera to be a decent browser, but not quite on par with, say, Chrome or Firefox. A year can make a huge difference, and quite honestly it did with the platform independent browser, Opera.

The internet is a huge resource, and if you go poking about, you never know what you’re gonna find. Opera makes that easier than ever with its Discover feature. Discover gives you top-quality news and entertainment from all around the globe. You can enjoy new content from a variety of categories and read articles from your region, in your language with just a few clicks. Its quick and easy to get the content you want.

Speaking of search, finding things with Opera is really easy. The browser has one intuitive, powerful location for searching and navigating the web. You can search using multiple providers and view the site suggestions as you type. This type of behavior should be very familiar to most web users and is a welcomed addition to Opera Browser.

OB-01

If you’re on a slow network, or if you just want to make your browsing experience that much faster, again, Opera has you covered. Its Off-Road mode compresses pages for faster, all-conditions browsing. It helps you stay online when your connection slows down. If you’re concerned about dropping a connection, or things totally tanking, Off-Road will help your browsing experience.

One of the biggest problems I’ve got with all of my bookmarks and favorites is keeping them straight and of course, getting to the ones that I use the most. Opera’s enhanced Speed Dial, groups your most-visited sites directly on a custom start-up page. From there, you can quickly search and access your favorite content. Once you’ve found something you like, keeping it just got easier. Opera’s Stash feature can capture a page with one click and organizes captured pages into a simple, sophisticated list. You can quickly search what you’ve stashed in a resizable preview page; or search what you’ve saved, by keywords.

Opera has come a long way in just over a year. With improved search and navigation support and the ability to support off-line browsing; and the ability to make your browsing experience, faster, Opera has changed..and its changed for the better.

If you’re looking for an improved browser experience, then Opera may just be the breath of fresh air you’ve been looking for.

download Opera

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Get and read email with Opera Mail

opera-mail-iconGet and read email with this full-featured mail client for Windows.

August 2013 seems to be mail client month. I think I’ve looked at three in the past few weeks.  That should tell you how important mail clients still are in the computing world.  Email isn’t going the way of the dodo, and having a good app to get, organize and read mail is important, especially if you aren’t into Outlook.  That’s one of the big reasons why you might be interested in looking long and hard at Opera Mail. It’s an email client for Windows.

Opera Mail is a cool way to check mail.  Its elegant tabs allow you to view multiple messages at once and navigate between them with ease. Messages can be grouped into threads which help you organize your mail.  You can keep up with the context of any mail thread, and quickly view previous messages in the conversation.

OM-03

Opera Mail also supports labels.  They allow you to sort your messages quickly. All of these organizational tools allow you to take control of your inbox and set simple rules to sort mail automatically.

Opera Mail’s also has a built-in RSS feed reader provides automatic notification of updates to your favorite websites. In the absence of Google Reader, having the ability in Opera Mail isn’t bad, and gives you a decent way of finding and organizing RSS data in a way that’s easy to read.

Opera Mail is a decent application. Its easy to use and goes a long way to helping you organize your inbox and mail accounts.  The biggest issue with it, however, is that it doesn’t handle calendar data.  It may handle contacts within the app, but this is not a full PIM app.  Its unfortunate, as it would have been a much better app with that level of support.

download Opera Mail

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Web Browser Roundup

Find the best browser for you with this informative Web Browser Roundup

Introduction

Back in the days of the Browser Wars, it was a battle between two well established titans – Internet Explorer and Netscape.  IE dominated the Windows world largly because it was the default browser for Microsoft’s flagship OS; and it was causing issues for other organizations who were trying to make money via providing a competitive browser.

We all know what happened – Netscape eventually died and Microsoft was put on double-super-secret probation via global anti-trust actions. Today, they still have to present a browser choice screen allowing European users the option of downloading and installing a different desktop browser. Effects of that anti-trust decision have been long reaching.  The browser wars were effectively over more than 10 years ago.

However, IE innovation has been largely stagnant since IE7 was released. IE8 and IE9 provided evolutionary updates, but nothing really to write home about. My wife, upon using IE9 for the first time, wanted to know what else might be available to her, something that she’s never asked for or about…EVER.  Let’s take a quick look at a few different browsers and talk about the ups and downs of each in their own, separate reviews.

Opera for Windows

Its hard, sometimes to get past IE. There’s so much that its done wrong in the past.  Finding a replacement browser isn’t always easy.  This is one reason why I like Opera. It’s a web browsing alternative for Windows. Read more…

Mozilla Firefox for Windows

Directly from the folks who helped bring you Netscape, Firefox is perhaps one of the best 3rd party browsers available for Windows today. Read more…

Google Chrome

The number of people using Google’s Chrome browser has almost doubled in the past year, and most analysts expect it to take over from Firefox as the lead challenger to Internet Explorer sometime in 2012. Why the growth? Well, simply put it just works. Read more…

Safari

If you’re looking for an alternative for your Windows platform, or have made a switch to OS X, then you’re going to want to take a look at Apple’s Safari browser. It’s one of the best browsers around, and like most, it’s free. Read more…

IE 10

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

 

Conclusion

While IE 10 isn’t bad, I have an issue with full screen browsing, and despite what you might think, IE really wants to function in a full screen, fully hiding the rest of the OS from the user, especially on a Windows RT tablet. This is a paradigm shift issue with me mostly; but I’m sorry…I just can’t help not liking full screen mode.  I don’t use full-screen mode on my Mac, either.  IE10 runs in full screen on Windows RT machines, and should run windowed on Windows 8 Pro tablets; but again, it wants to run full screen. I prefer a windowed look and the ability to tile app windows throughout.

While IE10 is much faster than previous versions, and there is a Windows 7 version available for download, Microsoft has always had performance issues with retro fitting current version browsers for previous version operating systems. IE10 was written for Windows 8. Expect to see the best performance for the browser on Windows 8.

Its difficult to pick between Opera and Firefox for Windows. They are in many ways, very similar. They’re both based on WebKit; and both perform well and offer what many would consider improvements over current and past versions of IE.

Honestly, it comes down to a matter of personal preference and choice. I use Firefox at work under Windows XP. It’s a great browser, and I am very satisfied with its performance. Its tabs are great, and I like its system of managing plugins and add-ons. Opera offers equivalent features, but it never seemed to catch on as well as Firefox has.  That shouldn’t keep you from downloading and giving the browser a chance, however. Its fast, easy to use, and offers the same value as Firefox, if with a different presentation. Its “O” button at the top left corner of its window is a great way to present all of its menu choices in one easily accessible place.

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Browse the web in speed and style with Opera Web Browser

Its hard, sometimes to get past IE. There’s so much that its done wrong in the past.  Finding a replacement browser isn’t always easy.  This is one reason why I like Opera. It’s a web browsing alternative for Windows.

There are usually a few important reasons why you use a third party browser. More than likely, you’re looking for something, some important feature that you just can’t seem to find or find to your satisfaction with the OS’ default browser. This is where Opera for Windows can come in, and come on strong.

If you’re looking for search improvements, Opera has  you covered.  With Opera, you get predictive search suggestions, as you type, making searching quicker and easier. Common searches for the major search engines are now built in. You can type your query right into the address field, and Opera does the rest.  If you want to use a specific search engine, simply right click in the search field of a search engine’s website and select “Create Search”.

Opera allows you to customize it to your liking. With a catalog full of colorful themes, you can give the browser a look you love, instantly. You can also create a design of your own.  You can also add, remove or reposition buttons and toolbars or change the entire layout of the browser.

If you’re looking for technology support, Opera has that too. Its Carakan JavaScript engine has been further enhanced to run quicker than ever.  This enhanced engine makes Opera the fastest browser on Earth.  With support for current web standards, Opera supports interactive apps and multiplayer games, easily.  It has a high-performance Vega graphics library.  even pages with lots of images load quickly and smoothly.  It also supports geolocation.  You can share your location with websites like Google Maps, without risking your privacy.

Download Opera Web Browser

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Optimize your Internet connection with Auslogics Internet Optimizer

Let’s face it, most of the applications nowadays don’t do what there are meant to do. There are hundreds of so-called Internet accelerators which are unable to offer any improvements regarding this issue. But Auslogics proves the opposite in releasing a free module included in their latest BootSpeed 5 Suite which really shows the difference in your Internet connection while using it.

Auslogics Internet Optimizer is more of an analyzer that scans your computer and shows what you should change instead of giving a false solution through a ‘speed-up’ button that doesn’t do anything. Besides the MTU and RWIN check, the application knows how to interpret and improve several TCP/IP settings, Winsock options, DNS Cache settings and related IE, Firefox and Opera options. In case you want to proceed to a much more hard-core approach, you can manually browse all these suggestions and apply whatever option you want.

Working with so many variables, there are chances that you can actually get a much slower Internet connection. The good news here is that Auslogics included a Rescue Center which can back-up any of your computer’s former state and restore it whenever you want. So don’t be afraid to try out all its options and scenarios.

Auslogics Internet Optimizer is the one that can truly make a difference in your Internet connection or at least it can provide you with enough information to choose the right solution for your low speed connection.

download Auslogics Internet Optimizer

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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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More than 100 million people use an Opera mobile browser

More than 100 million people use an Opera™ browser each month on their mobile phones. According to the numbers issued today in Opera’s State of the Mobile Web report, 90.4 million people now use Opera Mini™ every month and approximately 15 million people use Opera Mobile each month. In all, 105 million people use Opera on their phones.

105 million people might use Opera’s browsers today, but Opera Software cares even more about tomorrow. At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, new versions of the Opera Mini™ browser on Android, iPhone, J2ME, BlackBerry, Symbian and even the iPad will appear. The Opera Mobile™ browser will not be left behind either, with the latest version for Android and Symbian making their debut.

You can get Opera for mobile devices if use your phone’s default Web browser to visit the address m.opera.com .

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