- Chuck Gray
A public-service tech announcement to online CRRL patrons: both Microsoft and Mozilla have released updates to their web browsers, which I recommend you install if possible. These can be downloaded from the links below.
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/internet-explorer/downloads/ie)
- Mozilla Firefox 4 (http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/fx/)
Internet Explorer 9 is only available for computers running Windows 7 or Windows Vista. It does not, tragically, support Windows XP, likely in an effort by Microsoft to encourage its customers to upgrade from the decade-old operating system. Firefox 4 is decidedly more inclusive, supporting Windows versions back to Windows 2000 (excluding Windows ME), as well as Mac OS X and Linux.
Both updates sport noticeably minimalist interfaces, which consolidate toolbars in an effort to increase visible page real estate. This design change is reminiscent of the Google Chrome web browser (http://www.google.com/chrome/) since it was first released two years ago. Other web browsers to consider include Apple Safari (http://www.apple.com/safari/) and Opera (http://www.opera.com/).
While there are a plethora of other web browsers to choose from (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_web_browsers), with some designed around very particular interests including social networking (http://www.flock.com/) or music discovery (http://www.getsongbird.com/), IE9, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera are widely considered to be the best mainstream offerings. Speaking for myself, I still get the most use out of Firefox thanks to its incredibly rich selection of community-designed extensions (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/extensions/) and privacy tools, though Google Chrome has been quick to build its own base of community support (https://chrome.google.com/extensions/?hl=en).
At this point my preference for Firefox is primarily motivated by a desire to express some small amount of independence from Google as a company. However, that's probably just my inner snob rationalizing an addiction to all other things Google. It should be noted that the updated version of the oft-maligned Internet Explorer is getting some admirable reviews and is well worth upgrading, if only to bolster your computer's security for programs and web sites that still insist on the big, blue E.
While all modern browsers make an effort to identify and block potentially malicious web sites, it is still largely up to the users to protect themselves by avoiding scams, sites that boast access to pirated media and software, and in almost all instances, adult-oriented content.