Tag Archives: Chrome

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 will automatically update (and why all browsers and OSes should too)

Funeral IE6

Many Web developers and designers still design websites with Internet Explorer 6 in mind, despite the browser being 10 years old and lacking standards support or support for semi-modern features, all while being saddled with massive security issues (I do not still design for IE 6 personally).

The Web was launched in 1991. That’s only 20 years ago, and the Web is rapidly moving space. Despite this, Microsoft sat on IE 6 for years, not releasing IE 7 until more than five years later. It wasn’t until IE 8, however, that Microsoft put out a fairly competent browser. IE 9 looks to be by far the best version yet, and the best feature is that once people get on IE 9, they’ll automatically get new versions. A more secure Web browsing experience should follow, and Web standards should be supported much quicker.

We can make all the advances we want with HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript and other Web technologies, but as long as millions of computer users are using outdated Web browsers, often unknowingly, the Web will not advance quickly, affecting all of us. All Web browsers should support automatic updating by default (power users and system administrators should be able to turn this feature off).

Both Chrome and Firefox already support automatic updating, and this feature should help ensure that we don’t have a large percentage of Web users using an old browser. Geek.com has an article detailing some of the benefits:

Ryan Gavin, Microsoft’s senior director for Internet Explorer, pointed out several benefits. The overall security of the Windows user community will be improved as outdated browsers are replaced, developers can focus their attention on building sites using modern web code, and those who surf with IE will be able to enjoy the full Beauty of the Web.

Why don’t people update? Most people don’t know how to update, or they don’t know why they should update. If you’re in the middle of watching a video or writing a paper, do you really want to install updates and restart your computer? Of course not, and it’s silly that a pop-up message telling you that you have updates while you are in the middle of something important is considered a good idea from software companies.

While you’d be surprised at how many people click ignore when their computers or applications tell them that updates are available, it’s not that surprising when updating mechanisms have been so intrusive. In contrast, Chrome and Firefox update in the background. Users never know this is happening.

By making these updates automatic, these issues go away. This is more than just about getting more people with browsers that support the latest features; it’s really about making sure that people are surfing the Web securely. Your Web browser is by far the biggest vulnerability on your computer, and it’s much more important that you surf the Web with an up-to-date Web browser than it is for you to have the latest version of iPhoto.

If you’re computer, identity or bank accounts are comprised, there is a good possibility part of the reason was because you were using an old browser with security flaws that could be exploited or a browser that didn’t have automatic phishing detection or other security features.

My main browser is the latest version of Safari for Mac OS 10.7 without Flash installed (Flash is a major security vulnerability and performance decreaser). I wish Apple did automatic updating. Not for users like me who always update to the latest software immediately (sometimes too quickly) but for other people who never update their software.

While Mac OS 10.7 does download updates in the background, including to Safari, it doesn’t install them. This is a usability hurdle. If an update is critical, particularly for security and stability, it should automatically happen in the background. Windows 7 does support automatic updating, but it’s not on by default.

That’s backwards. The power users and system administrators who don’t want automatic updating know how to turn it off. The average computer user isn’t going to know to turn on this feature.

We’re making strides when it comes to usability with software updates. Mobile phones can update over the air, without needing to be tethered to a computer. More applications can updates themselves automatically. We’re getting there.

Internet Explorer drops below 50% market share

This is the end of an era, and everyone is better off because of it.

In the dark ages when Internet Explorer was the Internet, there was no innovation, little standards support and not a bright future for the Internet (and you basically has to use Windows to get the most out of the Internet). Microsoft went more than five years between updating Internet Explorer. Can you imagine that?

Today major Web browsers — save for Internet Explorer — receive updates multiple times a year. Firefox, Chrome and Safari came long to give us open source options that supported standards. These browsers rapidly iterated and gave us new features like tabbed browsing.

Yes, Internet Explorer didn’t get tabbed browsing until version 7 in 2006, years after other Web browsers had this feature. Can you imagine having to open a new browser window for every webpage you were viewing? Internet Explorer was a usability nightmare.

Google’s Chrome is standing the shoulders of giants today and is rocketing towards the top. It came years later than the other open source browsers, and is indeed based on Apple’ WebKit engine in Safari, but it’s a shinning example of what browser innovation can be. Google is rapidly adding new features to Chrome and is pushing Safari and Firefox to innovate and iterate even faster (I personally use Safari and Chrome and occasionally Firefox).

Today we’re all better off for the increased competition. Gone are the days when many websites would only render properly on Internet Explorer. Gone are the days when the only way to really browse the Web was to use Windows.

This is truly a big day for the Internet, technology and usability.