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Why Upgrade Your Browser?

3 June, 2016

To coincide with the 1 year anniversary of Windows 10 & Microsoft Edge browser releases, this article provides an overview as to what a browser is, and why you should upgrade to the latest version or perhaps switch browsers.
 

The Browser


A browser is a piece of software designed to view information on the internet, in the same way that Microsoft Office Outlook is designed to receive emails and Microsoft Office Word is designed to help create documents.
 
Statistics show that at the moment Internet Explorer and Edge by Microsoft are being used by 6.1%* of people accessing the Internet.
 
One reason for this is because Microsoft includes their browsers as the default browser (except in EU releases) in most Windows versions, however since the release of Windows 10 Microsoft have pushed via marketing campaigns, mobile device support & browser rebranding to re-establish themselves in the browser battle, though Google seems to be winning the war with their Chrome browser.
 

How to find out which browser you are running

If you aren’t sure which browser you are currently using, you can go to What Is My Browser and find out which browser and operating system you are running.


Reasons to upgrade your browser

Now that you know which browser you are running you might be thinking why should I change, or why do I need to update my browser? The simple answer is that you should always update on a regular basis. 
 
Some of the reasons are described below:

•    New versions are more secure

As new threats and new ways to harm your computer via the browser become known, the developers of the browsers have to fix these to keep your computer secure. The only way they can do this is to include these via an update. If you do not update, you do not get a more secure browser leaving you open to attack.

•    New versions can be faster

With the new browser developers battling it out to get the upper hand, one area that has improved leaps and bounds, is the speed that they can process the page load time. Google has gone the extra mile by implementing a feature called prefetching resources into their Chrome browser.

Prefetching resources uses predictions based on your browsing usage patterns to load what it think may be the next page you visit, for example searching for “Pixel Builders” will show that our site is the top of the search results and because of the specificity of your query the browser automatically knows what it thinks you’ll click next and will automatically load it in the background so it’s ready and waiting for you without having to wait for it to load.

•    Improved browsing experience

As with the speed issues, browsers are competing with new styling features for webpages that allow designers (such as ourselves) to add elements that were not possible in older versions. An old example of this would be transparancy and rounded corners for certain elements on the page would not be possible without creating a fallback.

A modern day example is a layout method called Flexbox which aims at providing a more efficient way to lay out, align and distribute space among items in a container. We’d love to develop using Flexbox, however the browsers which we support don’t all support this and therefore it’s logical to continue using a layout method that works with the majority of browsers. In a few years when the older unsupported browsers are only used by a small population of internet users, then that would be an ideal time to make the switch.

•    Not all browsers render the page to look the same

As all browsers handle the web page coding slightly differently, on some rare occasions the web page might look considerably different and may even appear to be broken (e.g. Internet Explorer 6). It is another good reason to update your browser to the latest version to get a full, rich web experience, shown in the way intended by the designer.

In some cases, even newer browsers such as Edge can render a page to look slightly different.
 

What options of browsers are there? What do they offer?


Ok so you have decided that you want to update your browser and want to know what options there are and what they offer? Here is a list of the options with download and usage statistics:

Google Chrome – Our favourite

Google Chrome is a browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the web faster, safer, and easier.

Download: https://www.google.com/chrome/

Usage*: 69.9 %
 

Mozilla Firefox

Features include tabbed browsing, spell checking, incremental find, live bookmarking, Smart Bookmarks, a download manager, private browsing, location-aware browsing  and an integrated search system that uses Yahoo! Search

Download: https://www.mozilla.org/en-GB/firefox/new/

Usage*: 17.8%
 

Microsoft Internet Explorer / Edge

A browser that is typically bundled with all Microsoft Windows operating systems and can be updated via use of windows updates. Modern incarnations of this browser are connected with other Microsoft services and integrate with other Windows features such as Cortana and Skype.

Download IE: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/internet-explorer/download-ie

Download Edge: Upgrade to Windows 10 - https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/windows-10-upgrade

Usage*:  6.1 %
 

 Apple Safari

A browser that comes as standard with all Apple Macs and iOS devices. It claims to be faster,more energy efficient than other browsers, privacy features and integration with the operating system such as iCloud. As of Safari 5.1, Windows is no longer supported.

Usage*: 3.6 %
 

Conclusion

There has never been a better time to swap your browser to the latest version. They are more secure, faster and in some cases you get a better browsing experience. With new updates released every month we are in for a good ride.
 
 
* - Usage statistics are based on March 2016 data from http://www.w3schools.com/ 
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