Choosing an Alternative to Internet Explorer

February 23, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Windows users are used to using Internet Explorer as their default browser – but with different versions of the operating system come opportunities to use different browsers.

For instance in the European Union Microsoft are prevented from shipping Internet Explorer as the default browser choice – users must select one or more alternative browsers to install or make the decision to sick with the Microsoft browser.

But wherever you are in the world, other browsers are available, and can be downloaded via Internet Explorer.

Choosing an alternative to Internet Explorer

Should I Dump Internet Explorer?

There are various reasons why you might discard Internet Explorer in favour of an alternative. For instance Mozilla Firefox offers faster opening of new tabs, not to mention a better add-on management system.

Meanwhile Opera and Safari offer a quick dial system on new tabs allowing you to keep your most-visited web applications within easy reach and saving you from having to browse through a busy favourite bookmarks menu.

Four popular alternatives to Internet Explorer are regularly used – Opera, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Safari – and these are all free to download.

Mozilla Firefox

Available from www.mozilla.org , Mozilla Firefox is the successor to Netscape Navigator, the original alternative to Internet Explorer from the days of the browser wars in the late 1990s.

When used in conjunction with the Thunderbird mail client, Mozilla applications present a usable alternative to Microsoft’s domination of Internet applications, and Firefox in particular has helped to shape how we use the web, pioneering the use of tabbed browsing and sandboxed add-ons, the ability to sandbox the browser and stricter adherence to web standards than that seen in Internet Explorer. Even if Firefox were to eventually lose the battle for supremacy with Internet Explorer (unlikely at present) it has done more to improve the way we use the web than any other browser.

Google Chrome

A recent addition to the list of available browsers, the Google Chrome software offers a minimalistic user interface, encouraging actual browsing rather than worrying about where various buttons and controls are found.

You can download Google Chrome from www.google.com/chrome – with tabbed browsing and a strict adherence to web standards (thereby delivering webpages as they’re meant to be seen) this is becoming a rapidly popular choice helped in no small part by the popularity of Google.

Opera

Already the world’s most popular browser for mobile devices, Opera is trying to make the same impact on desktop and laptop browsing. They have had some success already, with the browser used by several set-top boxes for home media centres and the like, and with the browser’s fascinating set of functions (easy migration of bookmarks, streaming of media from your PC to another device and more) Opera remains a popular choice.

While it has a few quirks – sometimes new windows that are intended to be “pop-out” media players will be given their own tab rather than a new window – Opera is a suitable alternative to Internet Explorer and can be downloaded from www.opera.com.

Safari

Finally there is the very popular Safari browser, versions of which exist on Apple computers and iOS devices such as the iPad. Also available for Windows, Safari again offers tabbed browsing, a pared-down user interface to reduce clutter and allow the user to focus on the page they are reading and an easy-to-use “quick dial” system for opening your most-visited websites.

Safari for Windows can be downloaded from www.apple.com/safari and offers extensive HTML5 support not to mention potentially the fastest browsing experience known to man.

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