There's more than Explorer, i.e.
What is the Internet? Technical explanations aside, it really depends on who is answering the question. Tech professionals see it as a massive, global data network comprised of varied components that speak the same language. Others see it as a fast and convenient way to share data and other bits of information. But for many, the Internet is just that big blue "e" on their desktop.
In fact, many people use the Internet blissfully, not aware of how large and ominous the world's largest computer network really is. It's so big that it may appear a little ambiguous at times. Regardless, there's far more to the Internet than Microsoft's ubiquitous Internet Explorer.
Internet Explorer is actually a web browser, not an Internet browser. Like any web browser, it is designed to display web pages found within the World Wide Web - a subset of the Internet often referred to simply as the "web."
In other words, there's more to the Internet than the web, or IE, for that matter. As a powerful conglomeration of government and privately own networks, the Internet has the potential to do all kinds of things. Email, instant messaging, file sharing, remote computing, video conferencing, and digital phone service (like Skype, for example) are just a few examples of Internet usage beyond web browsing.
As far as the web goes, many people don't realize that they don't have to use Internet Explorer - frequently referred to as just "IE" - to browse the web. While many are satisfied with IE, many aren't. And those that don't care for it may enjoy a number of freely available alternatives for Windows that can be easily downloaded and installed.
Typically installation involves visiting the browser's home page, downloading a setup file to the computer and running the setup file. It's probably best to save them to the desktop, if possible, so that they're readily available. Windows Vista's version of Internet Explorer places all downloads in a "Download" folder specific to the user account (Click Start menu ? Account Name (i.e. "Mary Jane"), then "Downloads").
Unbeknownst to many, different browsers can be up and running at the same time. And installing one browser won't affect one that's already installed. As a matter of fact, most web developers do this all the time.
â¢ Opera. Opera wasn't always freeware. It wasn't that long ago that the company required users to pay for the software before they could get to it. But with so many free browsers on the market these days, Opera opened it's electronic flood gates and released it to the masses for free.
Over the past several years, Opera has garnered a strong reputation for speed. The program in generally loads fairly quickly on most computers, and the time it takes for Opera to download and display a web page is often relatively short compared to many of it's competitors.
Interestingly, many of the biggest innovations in today's web browsers started with Opera. It's been an industry leader for many years, especially on mobile phones, despite it's small market share on the PC desktop market.
Unlike Internet Explorer, Opera comes in Linux, Windows and Apple/Mac (OS-X) versions.
â¢ Mozilla Firefox. Mozilla Firefox is the proud offspring of the Mozilla Corporation, a company that America Online (AOL) decided to spin off a decade ago shortly after they had acquired the leftovers of the once renowned Netscape corporation.
In any event, Mozilla Firefox has become highly popular during the past few years, being the only browser to present a significant challenge to IE's large share of the web browser market. Second only to IE, Firefox is one of the most popular web browsers on the planet.
Firefox is popular for being developed under an open-source model, which makes the software and the code it is created from freely available to the public. Firefox is also popular for it's extensibility. There are dozens or perhaps even hundreds of addons on the Firefox addons site that can extend it's capabilities.
Like Opera, Firefox comes in Windows, Linux and Apple/Mac (OS-X) versions.
â¢ Apple Safari. Safari is Apple's flagship web browser, which until recently was only available on Macintosh systems running OS-X. Apple has recently made a freely available Windows version of Safari that has a bit of a Apple look and feel to it. It's something that many Apple fans may want to check out.
â¢ Google Chrome. Google Chrome is a relative new comer to the world of browsers that hasn't entered the arena quietly. Chrome has amassed a large following in a very short period of time.
While Chrome boasts a number of intriguing features, particularly on the security front, it's lightweight architecture, unique look and tight integration with Gmail are the most compelling features for the majority of users.
The bottom line is that regardless of what browser a person chooses, the fight for dominance and market share amongst the browser makes is good for everyone. It gives everyone choice, which is good, and it pressures developers into improving and enhancing their browsers.