Microsoft lit the candles on a cake celebrating the demise of Internet Explorer version 6.0 last week. As indicated in this column over the last couple of years IE6.0 had become increasingly vulnerable to malware attacks and needed to be replaced by IE 9 (Win 7 & Vista users) or IE 8 for Win XP users. IE 6 usage in the US has dropped to under 1 % even though it still maintains popularity in countries like China.
The other big story in the ongoing browser wars is that Google’s Chrome browser has recently surpassed Firefox as the number two browser in the World. StatCounter Global Stats show that Chrome overtook Firefox around the first of November and currently enjoys about a 28% usage. These two browsers together beat IE worldwide since IE has slipped to about 38 %. Safari (primarily for Mac users) holds around 6-7 % and Opera maintains a 2-3 % share.
What does all this mean to the average user? Most browser experts agree that IE is not the safest browser to use and would nudge you to either Firefox or Chrome as your primary browser. Most also think that IE will continue to be the largest worldwide as long as this is a Windows World. The good thing about this competition is that all browsers are improving: safer, faster with more features. This is a clear case of how the consumer benefits from creative, innovative competition.
If you are trying to pick between alternative browsers, give them a test drive. Chrome claims to be the fastest today, unless you believe Opera’s claim to that honor. Studies that I have seen show Chrome to be fastest when opening one Website and Opera getting the edge with multiple simultaneous page openings. Speed of opening is not the only criterion; what about speeds for rendering pictures and videos and other more complex files?
Veteran Firefox users claim that the browser from Mozilla has the most and the best add-ins. That seems to be true at present, but remember how competition can change that quickly. Also consider your adoption of add-ins and plug-ins especially additional toolbars. Some add-ins give you useful features, but at the expense of speed and we all know that browsing is all about speed. Impatience can really build with just fractional second pauses. Our society seems addicted to speed!
Here are MY overall recommendations to you. Make sure you are using either IE 8 or 9 when you use IE. Adopt either Chrome or Firefox as your primary browser, especially if you have teens on your PCs. You’ll benefit most by choosing one or the other since there are some differences and there’s no reason to suffer a learning curve. Test drive them, pick one that suits you and take a little time learning the growing number of features that they offer.
Enjoy safe surfing and till next week, send your questions to: