Time To Upgrade Your Browser?
If I had to guess the most-often used piece of software on most computers, I would have to go with the Web browser. The Internet is an integral part of most people's computing experience these days, and the browser is the primary app for interacting with the online world. So it's surprising to me how lax some people are about keeping their Web browsers up to date. Here's why that's so important, and how to get it done...
Is Your Browser Up To Date?
The security of your web browser is one of the most important things you can do to keep safe and virus-free online. But incredibly, more than 8 per cent of the world is still using Internet Explorer 6, the browser that shipped with Windows XP more than ten years ago. China has the highest percentage of IE6 users (a whopping 28%), while in the U.S. IE6's market share has dwindled to about 1 percent. Norway leads the field in IE6 eradication, with just 0.2% clinging to the old clunker. You can track the slow death of IE6 at the IE6 Countdown website, and learn more about why IE6 is such a poor choice in today's environment.
Reasons for clinging to obsolete browsers range from the compelling to the silly. Some enterprise systems are trapped in older browsers by mission-critical legacy applications that won't work with modern browsers. It would cost too much to upgrade or replace the legacy apps, so everyone must make do with an old browser.
On the other hand, individuals cite "lack of time" as their reason for not upgrading a browser... as if an upgrade took all day instead of less than five minutes. Other reasons for shirking upgrades include fear of crashes, which are rare, and the old "if it isn't broken, why fix it?" rationale.
There are a number of good reasons to keep your Web browser up to date. Security is probably the most important and least considered reason. Older browsers have many more security holes than the latest generation, and hackers have had years to develop numerous ways to exploit old browsers. If you use an old, outdated browser, you are much more likely to get zapped by a computer virus, spyware, or even identity theft. Some online banking sites won't even let you login if the security of your browser is not up to current standards.
What Browser Version Do I Have?
To determine the version of your Web browser, click Help in the menu bar, then click the "About" option. As of this writing, here are the current browser versions and links you can use to download the latest:
- Internet Explorer (Vista and Windows 7): IE Version 9
- Internet Explorer (Windows XP): IE Version 8
- Google Chrome (Win/Mac/Linux): Version 15
- Mozilla Firefox (Win/Mac/Linux): Version 8.01
- Safari (Mac/Win): Version 5.1.2
- Opera (Win/Mac/Linux): Version 11.60
Browser upgrades are free; so it really doesn't make any sense to avoid upgrading. Unless, of course, you're ready to switch browsers. See my related article Is Chrome the Best Browser? to see why you might want to consider switching from your default browser to an alternative. There may be a few user interface changes when you upgrade your browser, or switch to a new one. But the basic functions will be the same -- you'll click or enter a web address, and off you go.
If you're out of date, take a minute to upgrade. It's as simple as downloading and installing any other free software. Browser developers want you to keep up to date so badly that they even push upgrades out to users automatically. When you see a notification that a new version of your browser is available, install it right away. Ultimately, whatever you were planning to do when this interruption came along will go faster and more securely.
Your thoughts are welcome on this topic! Post your comment or question below...
Posted by Bob Rankin on 6 Dec 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Time To Upgrade Your Browser? (Posted: 6 Dec 2011)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved