The internet is the backbone of modern business and yet the internet browsers that companies use are often the most neglected pieces of software. The complications that can arise from this are both detrimental to production cycles and hazardous to the security of any information sent by the internet. Internet Explorer 6 was released on August 27 2001; seven years later it still holds 24% of the online browser market. This number is still high but has been decreasing steadily over the last six months. With a seven year old program still holding a fourth of the world’s browsers you would think it would mean it was a good product, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

IE6 is the last browser NOT to support a number of features that have become essential to today’s web developers. Businesses are often forced to spend thousands of dollars in man hours to develop hacks for new web projects to ensure that new content is “compatible” with the antiquated browser. IE6 offers no support for PNG alpha transparency, lacks support for pseudo classes, no min-height support, and contains at least seven ways to crash it with one very simple line of code. In plain language this means that you have to work twice as hard to support IE6 and you still end up with an inferior product.

Along with the design limitations, IE6 is also hazardous to your work environment. A number of notable security faults exist within IE6 and more are found all the time. These security holes allow for easy access of Trojans and viruses – even if your system is otherwise protected by an antivirus. Microsoft hasn’t completely abandoned the browser but they have already released IE7. With IE8 on the near horizon, they do not have the time to fully protect a browser that they themselves admit is inferior.

Beyond Internet Explorer there are also alternatives that are superior. Firefox has long taken the internet by storm and with good reason. Along with being more secure and better supported, Firefox is also open sourced to the community. What this allows is for improvements to take place at a far more rapid pace then would ever be possible at Microsoft. Another option and a personal favorite of mine is Opera. While not as widely accepted, Opera is a very stable and safe browser that accomplished everything Firefox does but did so before it was fashionable to do so.

Whatever you choose, Internet Explorer 7, Firefox, or Opera, make the upgrade. By taking the initiative you can help make the internet a better and more secure place for everyone.

Update to Internet Explorer 7
Update to Firefox
Update to Opera

– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Design and Optimization Department