Internet Explorer or a different browser
People that have been using Windows based computers for some time, have probably all been using Internet Explorer at some point in time. And many probably still are, as Microsoft browser has been updated on a continuous basis, resulting in the current version 9.
A good influence on this development has been the European decision to force a browser selection for all Windows based systems, so Windows users are not automatically stuck with an integrated IE version. But also the increased competition from Mozilla FireFox and Google Chrome have contributed a lot to offering users a choice of browser.
Personally I use FireFox most, since it has always been a lot faster than IE, and I did not like the minimalistic view of Chrome when it first came out. Seeing that IE9 is doing exactly the same, I keep on using FireFox. Not without problem though, since I have seen the number of crashes and automatic restarts increase with the latest updates of FireFox. I will switch over to FireFox 4 and see if that has improved upon the 3.6.xx versions.
Back to IE, where it is still up to the user to switch to new versions. IE6 as you might know is losing ground, which is good since it was a developer’s nightmare. If you want to see how many people still use IE6, check out the IE6 countdown site. But if you are keen on keeping IE6 around, there is of course also a site for that…
IE7 is also still in use and is a lot better than IE6 already, but some real changes were made by Microsoft when IE8 was introduced. Performance and security were better than earlier, partly by sandboxing each tab, and this was further improved upon in IE9, which is almost a complete new browser. IE9’s ability to use (GPU) hardware acceleration and support for HTML5 probably make it one of the best choices at the moment.
If you want to compare browsers to help you decide which browser to use, consider checking out the HTML5test, and for performance have a look at ZDNet’s browser comparison. From a future perspective, it also worth considering the support and development for the browsers. Microsoft has been developing IE for years, and is also offering more and more online services through Office Web Apps, and Live Essentials. Google has had the Google Documents services for a longer time, and has tons of things in their development pipeline all the time. The question is if FireFox, being ‘just a browser’ will be able to keep competing with these giants.
And just in case you are curious, you can already have an early look at IE10! That will be the version that is expected to be released with Windows 8, and it will further only run on Windows 7, since Microsoft has decided not to make it available for Vista.