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20 Things I Learned About Browsers And The Web [Thing 7]

29 May

A BROWSER MADRIGAL

or, old vs. modern browsers

Crabbed old and modern browsers

Cannot live together:

The modern browser is faster, featureful, and more secure

The old browser is slow, and at worst, a dreadful danger

Malicious attacks it cannot endure.(with apologies to Shakespeare)

Most of us don’t realize how much an old and out-of-date web browser can negatively impact our online lives, particularly our online safety. You wouldn’t drive an old car with bald tires, bad brakes, and an unreliable engine for years on end. It’s a bad idea to take the same chances with the web browser that you use daily to navigate to every page and application on the web.

Upgrading to a modern browser — like the latest version of Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Opera, or Google Chrome — is important for three reasons:

First, old browsers are vulnerable to attacks, because they typically aren’t updated with the latest security fixes and features. Browser vulnerabilities can lead to stolen passwords, malicious software snuck secretly onto your computer, or worse. An up-to-date browser helps guard against security threats like phishing and malware.

Second, the web evolves quickly. Many of the latest features on today’s websites and web applications won’t work with old browsers. Only up-to-date browsers have the speed improvements that let you run web pages and applications quickly, along with support for modern web technologies such as HTML5, CSS3, and fast JavaScript.


Third and last, old browsers slow down innovation on the web. If lots of Internet users cling to old browsers, web developers are forced to design websites that work with both old and new technologies. Facing limited time and resources, they end up developing for the lowest common denominator — and not building the next generation of useful, groundbreaking web applications. (Imagine if today’s highway engineers were required to design high-speed freeways that would still be perfectly safe for a Model T.) That’s why outdated browsers are bad for users overall and bad for innovation on the web.

Not that anyone blames you personally for staying loyal to your aging browser. In some cases, you may be unable to upgrade your browser. If you find that you’re blocked from upgrading your browser on your corporate computer, have a chat with your IT administrator. If you can’t upgrade an old version of Internet Explorer, the Google Chrome Frame plug-in can give you the benefits of some modern web app functionality by bringing in Google Chrome’s capabilities into Internet Explorer.

Old, outdated browsers are bad for us as users, and they hold back innovation all over the web. So take a moment to make sure that you’ve upgraded to the latest version of your favorite modern browser.

The latest stable versions of the major modern browsers are Firefox 3.6, Safari 5, Google Chrome 7, Internet Explorer 8, and Opera 10.63. 

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