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by Ray Carlson

Q: My friends have stopped using Internet Explorer as a browser. What browser is most popular?

A: According to a recent survey, about sixty percent use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as their primary means of accessing the Internet [down from 97 percent ten years ago]. Mozilla’s Firefox is the next more commonly used with about 23 percent of users. It offers more flexibility, and is less often the focus of attacks by virus makers. In addition, the makers of that program encourage programmers to add their own extensions that add special features like watching out for spyware, automatically filling in forms, checking the weather, and almost anything you can imagine. Several thousand extensions have been developed and Firefox offers an easy way to identify, download and update them.

Over the last two years, Google’s Chrome has steadily grown in users reaching about seven percent. It tends to come in first in surveys of “techies.” Users indicate that they like the fact that it tends to be faster and more streamlined. It has also won recognition for its ability to discourage hacking. Each of these three periodically comes out with a new version that mimics innovations in the others. For example, Chrome is now encouraging extensions like Firefox [although is still far behind in number], and Internet Explorer is now testing a new version called IE9 that copies some of the innovations in Chrome. Each of these browsers is free, so the simplest recommendation is to download and try each.

Published: Courier 10/24/10 - Page 7C