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Product Reviews: Internet Explorer

Written By: Richard Lowe

When I began “surfing” there was no world wide web, and the
concept of the “internet” was much looser and not nearly as
well defined as today. There really was not even the concept
of a “web browser” at all. Instead, there were dozens of much
simpler, more specific browsers, each designed for a single
purpose.

I miss those days long ago, before Netscape and Internet
Explorer came along. There was a little more magic, I think,
and a larger sense of exploring the unknown wilds of cyberspace.
It all seemed, I don’t know, more fulfilling when I searched for
hours using FTP and Archie for someone who had a copy of Dungeon
(before it became Zork) or for a document about how DNS worked.

I guess the difference is like flying across the country to
Boston, taking the train, or driving there in your car. If the
only thing of interest is the destination, then by all means
take the fastest airplane. If, however, you want to enjoy the
trip and take in the sights, you may want to drive.

My first “browser” was via CompuServe. I don’t know if you
could really call it a browser, but it worked. There was only
text, and it was very difficult to get around, but somehow we
all managed to get along and we got what we needed. I followed
CompuServe with America Online, which was, believe me, a huge
step up. From there I skipped to Netscape, then to Internet
Explorer.

In my humble opinion, Internet Explorer (even those early
versions) was a tremendous step up from anything else that was
available. It wasn’t that IE had any better features or anything
like that – it was just that IE, well, felt better. The browsing
experience was smoother, a little more refined, a touch
classier.

I found that Netscape stuttered. As pages loaded it would stop
and start and stop and start, and I found it incredibly annoying.
On the other hand, Internet Explorer was smooth; it seemed to
load pages and graphics much cleaner.

As the browser wars heated up the differences between the two
major contenders became more and more pronounced. Both products
added special tags, special capabilities and tons of
improvements. Sometimes versions of both programs were released
which were not adequately tested; this was a natural by-product
of an honest-to-god war between the two browsers.

I was happy with IE4, and I found IE5 to be just about perfect
(although some tweaking of security was necessary to prevent
serious bug infestations). Because of that, I delayed upgrading
to IE6 until a few days ago – I was more than a little afraid of
the new version due to many negative reports about smart tags
and a few other features.

As it turns out, IE6 is a fine browser, perhaps the best yet
(although I have not yet played with the new version of
Netscape). The browsing experience is very smooth, it’s fast and
efficient, and it seems to have just about everything you would
expect.

One of the features that I really like is the new privacy
options. While this does not by any means terminate privacy
concerns with this browser, it is a good step in the right
direction. Whereas before, in all browsers, you can only treat
all cookies the same (accept them, prompt for them or block
them), IE6 allows you to control cookies on a site-by-site basis.
Even better, you can separately choose to turn off third-party
cookies, and you can even treat session cookies as a separate
case. I like it. Now if they would just add something similar to
get rid of those annoying pop-up windows …

On the downside – IE6 is huge. The browser takes a tremendous
amount of resources: memory, disk and CPU. IE6 also significantly
modifies your system (unlike Netscape or Opera), which can be
alarming. And, of course, you can expect the usual two-to-a dozen
emergency patches a month due to security holes. Some things
simply do not change …

As should be obvious, I like this browser. It does what I expect
from a browser – it lets me browse and gets out of my way. It’s
fast, it’s smooth and it works well. That’s all that I want.

About the Author

Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets
at http://www.internet-tips.net – Visit our website any time to
read over 1,000 complete FREE articles about how to improve your
internet profits, enjoyment and knowledge.

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