Alan Stainer runs an IT company specialising in technical advice and support and website design, based in the Horsham District. In each column he’ll look at issues affecting computer use.
It is always a good idea to keep your software up to date. Software vendors periodically release patches and security updates, which you should be installing. They are free for the version of the product you have and will make your software more secure and less vulnerable to malicious attack.
That is all true in general terms, but I wanted to talk specifically about browsers.
Everybody uses a browser when they access the internet and they are all free to use, without exception.
“Great!” I hear you cry. Well, yes, but... a lot of people are still using older browsers which don’t receive updates any more and could leave their computers exposed to security vulnerabilities.
If you are using Windows XP or Windows Vista and you have not installed a browser to replace Internet Explorer (IE), you will be using an out of date browser.
The most recent version of IE (v10) is only available for Windows 7 and Windows 8. Vista is restricted to IE9 and Windows XP is restricted to the now ancient IE8.
“What are the other benefits to using a modern browser?” I am glad you asked that. For many years websites have been based around HTML 4 (HTML is the code used to construct a web page). The last couple of years has seen the adoption of HTML 5 based websites, which promise much greater flexibility and features. Older browsers do not support HTML 5 and will have problems when trying to display sites that use it.
To get the full benefit from HTML 5 and to truly appreciate the new visually stunning websites, you need a new browser.
Fortunately you don’t need to look far to find one. You may have noticed the Browser Choice icon on your Windows desktop. Click that and choose! Popular choices are Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.