This article previously published at EagleConsultingPartners.com
Internet Explorer is a “compatibility solution” not a “modern browser”, explains Microsoft’s lead for cybersecurity in a recent blog post.
Do you use the Internet Explorer web browser on a regular basis? Does your practice or organization? Well, the message from a Microsoft cybersecurity leader is to STOP!
Chris Jackson is a Microsoft cybersecurity expert. In a post published on the Microsoft Windows IT Pro blog, Jackson put in writing what IT professionals have been quietly saying for years: Internet Explorer is not a modern browser. It is a big risk on the internet and exists only for use with legacy systems or applications that don’t work with newer browsers.
“You see, Internet Explorer is a compatibility solution. We’re not supporting new web standards for it and, while many sites work fine, developers by and large just aren’t testing for Internet Explorer these days. They’re testing on modern browsers.”
Maybe they should stop calling it “Internet” Explorer?
Jackson doesn’t comment on which browsers you should be using. He doesn’t even recommend Edge, Microsoft’s current “flagship” browser. I don’t recommend using Edge either, as Microsoft has been slow to update it and is soon going to kill the current Edge to completely rebuild it on the same underlying system that Google Chrome uses.
Which Browser Should I Use?
When it comes to default everyday internet use, there are only three real recommendations: Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. Since we’re talking about alternatives to Internet Explorer, I’ll assume you’re on Windows and ignore Safari for the rest of this post.
Chrome: Chrome is king right now in terms of overall usage, with an impressive 62% of web browsing happening via a Chrome browser (per Wikipedia data as of December 2018). It is an excellent browser, fast, and easy to use. Chrome automatically updates itself, so users and IT admins don’t have to worry about running updates. Long story short: If you have no idea which browser to be using, just use Chrome.
Firefox: Firefox is neck-in-neck with Chrome in terms of overall quality and capabilities, though it has barely 5% of the browser market share. If you haven’t looked at Firefox recently, an extensive overhaul last spring transformed it into a serious Chrome rival. Firefox is my browser of choice, for what that’s worth. Consider trying it (especially if you have any concerns about Google’s ever-growing reach).
But I Have to Use Internet Explorer Because…
I know, I know – you have to use Internet Explorer because XYZ application on your network requires it or ABC website only works on Internet Explorer. I get it, and so does Chris Jackson. This is why Microsoft hasn’t completely removed Internet Explorer from our lives. These legacy and compatibility needs are out there.
Jackson’s point, and the one thing I want you to take away from this post, is that you should only use Internet Explorer for these compatibility purposes. Anything else is a security risk. For surfing the web, checking webmail, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, banking, and everything else you’re doing online, use a modern web browser like Firefox or Chrome. End of story.
- For you Mac/Safari users: Safari is a perfectly fine browser. Carry on. Or consider one of the options above.
- If you read this and said, “But Mike, what about Chromium, Opera, Vivaldi, etc.?!”, then you already know enough, so stop reading and go help others in your organization get sorted out!
- For the technically-inclined, read Jackson’s post for his explanation of why Internet Explorer is so flawed. It is linked in the sources below.