You might be reading articles these days about discontinuing the use of Internet Explorer as your Internet browser. This bulletin will give you some background on that subject and make a recommendation about switching.
Here's some background to get started -
Some years ago, Microsoft argued that Internet Explorer just had to be closely integrated into Windows. Their contention was that consumers would somehow be hurt if it wasn't. That was pure marketing strategy of course, simply aimed at furthering the monopoly that Windows had over the operating system market. When the newly inaugurated Bush administration killed the pending anti-trust case against them, the coop was completed. Competition was severely limited and consumers everywhere were hurt. There never was a valid technical reason why your browser had to be integrated into Windows, but we were all stuck with it nonetheless.
And then came the problems -
It turned out that not only did Windows have security design flaws, but so did Internet Explorer (IE). In fact, IE has become a prime target for the authors of those pesky virus, worm, Trojan and spyware programs which plague us today. There is some good news though. Some of the competitors managed to hold on and are now offering high quality substitute products, often for free.
Why should you consider an alternative browser?
There's a simple answer to this question. If you use an alternative browser, the security flaws aren't there and the bad stuff that tries to get in via those security flaws, can't! You can expect pop-up ads to be reduced or eliminated. Programs which attempt to gain access to your computer without your knowledge, often won't run under alternative browsers. Things are just safer out there if you don't use Internet Explorer. It's not the whole solution, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.
Can I recommend a good alternative browser?
More good news. I can and will recommend a browser to replace Internet Explorer. The one I like is a Mozilla product (from the old Netscape company) and it's called "Firefox". It is free to the consumer and can be downloaded from the following web site:
Download the file and save it to your hard drive. Go into Windows Explorer (Windows Key + E will do it), double-click on the saved file and install the new browser.
Here's what you should expect -
Firefox is a smaller, more efficient program. It loads faster and operates faster. It allows you to import all your old favorites from Internet Explorer, which I suggest that you do right away. Installing Firefox does not disable Internet Explorer. You can decide to use either one at any time. (I suggest that you continue to have Internet Explorer be your "default" browser, for a reason I will describe shortly.) The look and feel of Firefox is so similar to Internet Explorer that you will need almost no time to get used to it. IE "Favorites" are called "Bookmarks" in Firefox, continuing a Netscape tradition. There is no "Links" bar in Forefox, but there is a "Bookmarks Toolbar Display" which serves the same purpose. The import doesn't automatically move IE Links in there, but if you use the Links feature (you should - subject of an old bulletin), it's a simple matter to transfer them manually.
The few downsides of switching -
Microsoft is still hanging on to their marketing strategy however. They will not allow you to access Windows Updates using anything but Internet Explorer. Okay, I can live with that. I have also found that version 4.0 of ACT! (that's ACT! 2000) does not integrate with Firefox. If you click on any "Internet Links" such as Mapping, you get an error message if your default browser is anything other than Internet Explorer. I don't have access to multiple or later versions of ACT!, but I suspect the issue might still exist in those versions as well.
That's about it though. Not much to worry about and the look and feel of Firefox is very nice. I think you will really like using it.