Life is always better with choices. Coke or Pepsi. Disneyland or Disney World. Football or futbol. Not all are created equally, but having choices allows you to make the best decision for yourself.
The same holds true for your web browser, though many people don’t treat it that way.
Most people using Internet Explorer aren’t doing so by choice. It’s the default browser packaged with Microsoft Windows, and therefore the easiest to use for the folks without a preference.
And that’s the problem. Given a choice between Coke and Pepsi, most people would prefer one over the other. Why should your web browser be any different?
The only way to truly develop a preference is to experience the alternative. Luckily, all of the major web browsers are available free-of-charge.
With that in mind, here are five reasons to try a browser other than Internet Explorer.
- HTML5/CSS3 – HTML is the markup language of the Internet, and CSS is used to style said markup into beautiful and functional websites. HTML5 and CSS3 are just the current iterations of each language. Why is this important? Both updates expand functionality, making the web simpler in both development and usage. HTML5/CSS3 are supported in Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera, but not currently in IE8.
- User experience – Each web browser brings different elements together to create a unique user experience. Firefox has a great library of add-ons to increase browser functionality (like being able to update Twitter from the address bar). Chrome is extremely fast, and integrates beautifully with Google’s other free services (like syncing my favorites to my Google account across multiple computers). Safari brings Apple’s sense of design and functionality to the PC.
- Web standards – Put simply, web standards make my job as a developer much easier. It means that when I code a website, it’ll look the same in Firefox as it will in Chrome or Safari. While IE 8 is much better in the standards department, it still has some large shortcomings (see reason #1). With IE 9, Microsoft has promised to embrace web standards even further. But if history is any indicator, other browsers will be moving on to something bigger and better by the time Microsoft is close to catching up. As IE’s market share continues to drop, users could continue to find themselves on the outside looking in.
- Security – This is mostly for the 17% of you (according to some metrics) still using IE 6, a browser first released in 2001! I’m assuming that you’re forced to use IE 6 at work or in some other controlled environment where people are overly concerned about security or support for legacy software. Ironically, because of its age and dwindling support, IE 6 is the least secure of any major browser. Please upgrade, even if it’s to IE 7 or 8.
- The Upgrade Process – One of the nice things about using any IE alternative is that the browser will notify you as soon as there’s an available update. It’s more convenient than IE’s updates, which are pushed through the Windows patching system. People aren’t great at updating Windows, especially on older operating systems like XP. On top of that, IE’s development cycle is tied to OS releases, which is part of the reason IE is continually behind the curve in terms of new functionality.
Hopefully you’ve found at least one reason to test a new browser. Don’t worry, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you adapt.
Remember that you can run multiple browsers on your computer, meaning that you can test drive another browser without messing up IE. That way, in the event that IE remains your favorite browser, you can easily transition back.
But I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen.
Here are links to our two favorite browsers. Download them for free and try them out:
And if you’re feeling loyal, check out the IE 9 Beta.