Many computer users are used to browsing the Internet using a program called Internet Explorer. This is because Microsoft has integrated IE (Internet Explorer) into Windows. In fact, it may not even seem like a separate program to many, as it’s all that has been experienced within the context of web browsing for the past few years. Clicking on the big blue “E” leads you to the Internet. Now there are some different browsers available and some potentially good reasons to make a switch.
There are three browsers that will be compared here: IE, Firefox, and Opera. Each has different advantages and disadvantages.
Internet Explorer is the most traditional of the browsers that may seem like the easiest to use. IE is made by Microsoft, which means it’s the largest target for security breaches. Most users today use IE to browse the Internet, as it’s a free included part of Windows, though they don’t realize that it is the most likely to attract spyware (downloaded, hidden tracking software that is responsible for many pop-ups and slow downs) and/or hackers. IE is also generally considered to be the slowest of the three.
Firefox is available for free here. The reason it is free is because it is developed by an open source community. What that means is that many computer professionals have gathered together to try and improve computer programs (like browsers) while leaving the code “open” for change by most anyone. This allows for quick improvements from within community. Firefox is more secure than IE and includes some nice features such as “tab browsing” (a time saving feature that allows you to open up different web pages within the same window). The disadvantage to Firefox is that the look and feel may be unfamiliar to those used to IE. Also, if you have a question, support isn’t as readily available.
Opera is a browser designed by a company in Norway. In many ways, Opera is superior to both IE and Firefox. It has a clean, fresh look and is easy to use, though it may still require an adjustment for IE users. Opera is also very secure and boasts faster load speeds than the other two browsers. Opera is currently available in two versions: the free version, which is supported by banner ads and the $39 version, which removes the ads while giving users access to premium support, a nice luxury lacking from the other two browsers.
There are many other features included in each of these browsers (mostly Firefox and Opera), which are discussed at their respective web sites using the links above. The bottom line is finding the right balance of familiarity, usability, features, and cost. Depending on your circumstances, any of these browsers may work just fine.