If you’ve been using the web for a while, you know that every version of Windows includes Internet Explorer as its default web browser.
Since Windows is the predominant operating system in PC’s across the world, that should make IE the predominant web browser — and it does.
However, there has always been a (unorganized) group of PC users who really don’t like to use Internet Explorer.
Whether their issue is the number of security flaws, the infrequency of updates, the almost monopolistic practices of Microsoft, or any other reason, there are over 10 percent of Windows users who do not use Internet Explorer as their normal web browser.
Of course, people using Mac computers from Apple, or who are using Linux or who are using any other operating system than Windoww, don’t use Internet Explorer, either.
So, what does this mean to you?
It means that you have alternatives. You do not have to use Internet Explorer. It means that almost all web developers create their websites to work with IE and with other web browsers like Firefox, Opera, SeaMonkey, Safari (Mac) and Netscape.
Some web sites and Internet Service Providers say that they “support Internet Explorer.” They’re really saying “we won’t answer questions about any web browser other than IE.” Very few web sites will only work with IE — most companies and web designers are not idiots.
Almost all of these are free (not Safari for the Mac; it’s part of the Mac operating system).
More importantly, they are alternatives, not replacements.
That means that you can install Firefox on your computer in addition to Internet Explorer. You can install Opera in addition to Firefox and IE. You can install SeaMonkey, too, if you want. You can install Netscape. You can install any combination of these, not just the ones I mention in the order I mentioned.
Do you want to run Opera and IE, but not the others? Go ahead.
The most important thing to realize is that these programs co-exist peacefully!
I can, and do, run IE, Firefox and Opera routinely — all at the same time. That’s right, I often have all three web browsers open simultaneously. They don’t interfere with each other. Each is totally independent of the other.
As a web designer, I do this so that I can make sure my web sites look good in all of these.
But, as a web surfer, I can choose to use any one of these at any time for any web site.
The one big choice I have to make is which one I want to use as my default web browser. In other words, if I click on a link in an email, which web browser do I want to open — IE, Firefox or Opera?
My choice is Firefox. Try it, I think you’ll like it.
You can download it for free at mozilla.com, or get it for free as part of the free Google Pack software package from Google.