What's a Browser?

I’ve asked quite a number of people what browser they use, and their reply is something like “Yahoo” or “AOL.” Well, Yahoo is not a browser, neither is AOL. These are companies that provide online services and each has a browser they provide to their customers for use (AOL’s is actually a version of Internet Explorer) but these are not browsers themselves.

Short for “Internet web browser” a browser is a software application used to locate and display web pages. If you are reading this page, you are using and viewing it a browser. When you go to Yahoo or AOL or any web site on the Internet, you are viewing that web site in a browser. Without a browser, you can’t view the Internet.

The two most popular browsers for PC users are Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox but there are quite a few other ones out there. If you’re on a Mac, you may be using Safari or Camino. Firefox and Internet Explorer are graphical browsers, which means that they can display graphics as well as text. Some browsers are text based only and so you don’t see any pretty pictures on the web sites you visit.

Keeping Your Browser Current

Each new version of a browser will more than likely have security fixes in it. If that isn’t enough to get you to update, there’s the fact that browser technology gets better with every new version. You’re cheating yourself from viewing websites as they were created and intended to be seen if you’re hanging on to an older browser version. As browsers evolve they gain more abilities to display more nifty, fun things which you won’t be able to see if you don’t keep your browser current. In other words, you’ll get more enjoyment and information if you keep your browser up to date.

Web site designers phase out developing web sites for the older versions after new versions become available. Therefore, if you’re not running as updated a browser as you could be, your site on your computer in your older browser may look very different from the one your designer developed for you.I’d say on the average, every 2 – 4 years designers in general will phase out developing sites for a browser. As an example, at the time of this writing, the most current version of Internet Explorer is version 8 with version 9 in the making. Most designers stopped developing sites for versions 5 & 6 quite some time ago.

You’ll find a statement on some web sites that the site is “best viewed in Internet Explorer 7” or “best viewed in Netscape 8” You can replace the browser name with other browsers, but these are the ones you see the most. Statements like these are not what I’m talking about when I say you need to keep your browser up to date. Sites contain statements such as these were designed to work in that browser and only that browser. It doesn’t mean you can’t view it in another one, but its design and features are designed to work optimally in that one browser without taking into consideration that not everyone uses that browser. Designing a site for a specific browser is absolutely not good web design. A web site is best designed with good visibility and functionality in all of the most popular browsers, it should not be limited to one specific browser. When a designer creates a web site specifically geared for one browser or another, there’s a good chance the site will not function as it should in another browser.

We can’t urge you enough to update your browser regularly no matter which one you use. I don’t know of a browser out there that isn’t free. All it takes is a few minuts of your time to download and they usually automatically install so if you’re afraid of installs, you needn’t be in these cases. It couldn’t be any simpler!

In order for you to best view any web site, you should always keep your browser updated to the most current version. We just can’t stress this enough. Not only is this practice related to computer security issues, but you’re cheating yourself out of viewing capabilities if you don’t. You could be missing so much of the new technology that older browsers are not capable of handling. (Like how the site is intended to be viewed for example!) If your browser is not up to date, not only is your computer open to more security risks but you’ll miss viewing some very cool stuff! Browsers and browser updates are free! Updating is quick and painless. You have only yourself to blame if you’re cheating yourself out of the latest and greatest! In order to make this a quick and simple process for you, below are the links to update your browser. We recommend Firefox. It’s the safest and most standards compliant browser currently available.