You should upgrade your internet browser |

You should upgrade your internet browser

eRin pheiL
eRin pheiL

Today, I’ve made a goal for myself: I’m going to do my best to convince you to upgrade your Web browser.

If you haven’t updated your browser in a while, you really should. If you’re using a browser more than a couple of years old, an upgrade is a real necessity.

Before I provide you with my reasons as to why I insist you perform an upgrade, I’ll quickly explain what a browser is for those of you sitting there right now, scratching your head and wondering, “Well shoot, which thingee on my computer is the browser?”

Your Web browser is the program on your computer that allows you to (A-HA!) browse the Web. Many different browsers are available for you to use, and just about all of them are free for you to download. Some of the more popular ones you may have heard of include Internet Explorer, AOL, Mozilla, Netscape Navigator and Safari.

To determine your current browser’s version, first open your browser. Look at the menu running across the top and select Help.

Look near the bottom of this menu that dropped down; there will be an option that reads “About _________.”

If you’re using Internet Explorer, the option will read “About Internet Explorer.” If you’re using Netscape Communicator, the option will read “About Communicator,” etc. When you select this option, a small window will open, within which a version number should exist.

As of the printing of this column, the following browser versions are the latest and most up to date. If you’re running previous versions of these browsers (Netscape 4.7, for example), you’re a definite candidate for upgrading!

n Internet Explorer: 6 (or 5 on a Mac)

n Mozilla: 1.5

n Netscape: 7.1

n Opera: 7.23

n AOL: 9.0

n Safari: 1.0

With Internet and Web site technologies continuing to evolve and progress, browsers are constantly being improved and updated. New versions are released periodically – hence, the issue of upgrading.

Some of you are probably thinking, “Whatever. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Ahem. I’m here to tell you that your old, outdated browser may indeed be “broken” (performing rather poorly in a variety of ways) – you just might not realize it!

So here you go. These are the reasons why I’m so adamant about your upgrading to a newer browser version:

1. Security Fixes. Security holes are always being discovered in Web browsers. For instance, old versions of the Opera browser contained security holes that allowed others to remotely take control of your computer without your permission. The latest versions of browsers close these holes and remove known security flaws. Therefore you’re taking care to protect yourself, your computer and your information by upgrading to a newer browser.

2. Older browsers are often slooooower. If you’re running an old browser, you might not be able to blame the slow loading of your Web pages on your Internet connection. Compared to the latest browsers, many older browsers are absolute turtles when it comes to rendering pages.

3. Older browsers provide poor CSS Support. CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets Š but I promise you don’t need to remember that. What you should keep in mind, however, is that an increasing number of Web site designers are using CSS to format Web page layouts. Everything from a Web page’s background color to fonts to image placement can be controlled by CSS. And ya know what? Old browsers are easily confused and befuddled by CSS. In fact, many Web sites will look completely askew and “broken” when viewed with outdated browsers because of poor CSS support.

4. Older browsers are not standards-compliant. Have you ever heard of the W3C – the World Wide Web Consortium? It’s a group dedicated to “leading the Web to its full potential,” and it’s developed a lengthy list of specifications (standards) to enhance the interoperability of Web-related products. In a nutshell, the majority of older browsers are not standards-compliant. This means they’re unable to display Web pages in the way Web site builders intended them to be seen.

When viewed in older browsers, many Web sites may appear to have missing components (animations, images, etc.), image and text overlaps, non-functioning rollovers, etc. On the other hand, newer browsers tend to comply with most Web standards and are therefore able to render Web pages correctly.

5. Useful features. The latest browsers contain a bunch of neat features that can enhance your Web browsing experiences. For instance, you’ll find that if you install the latest version of the Mozilla browser, you can use “tabbed browsing.” Tabbed browsing allows you to display more than one site in a window using multiple tabs – you can open a new tab by simply pressing Ctrl + T. Additionally, many newer browsers have integrated pop-up blocking – no more purchasing expensive pop-up blocker software. Even Internet Explorer 6.0, which does not have built-in pop-up blocking, allows you to download the free pop-up blocking Google Toolbar.

And there you have it. The top five reasons why you should upgrade your browser.

In a nutshell: Older browsers are slower and often display Web pages incorrectly. Using an older browser may be keeping you from seeing the Internet as it should be seen! So what are you waiting for? Get to it! Go upgrade!

And for those of you wearing that deer-in-the-headlights look, don’t worry. Next week’s column, “How to Upgrade Your Browser,” will be written especially for you.

Based in Frisco, eRin pheiL is the primary creative force behind timeforcake

( She can be reached via phone at (970) 668-0709 or e-mail at

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