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Considering a new browser

Ask any computer user to characterize their top three computer activities and I bet many users will include surfing the Web as a top activity. The Web browser has become arguably the most used application for many users. Consider also that many of us have a favorite browser that is both familiar and comfortable so we stay loyal to it without usually considering other browsers.

With the newest Web protocol family, HTML Version 5, bringing significant change to the way browsers interpret Internet content, many users may soon want a browser that supports the new version. All browsers will eventually support version 5, but when? If keeping market share is important to the browser maker quick action is necessary.

Currently, Internet Explorer owns 61.2 percent of the browser market, which is great news for Microsoft; the bad news is the number has been steadily declining each month. The nearest competitor, according to NetApplications, is Mozilla's Firefox with almost a quarter of the market and with strong competition from other browsers further decline is expected.

But, Microsoft is not shying away from this very important market. Conversely, they have worked hard to update and release a state-of-the-art browser that not only will keep current users happy it may bring users back into the IE fold. The result of the effort is the next implementation of Internet Explorer, version 9, that is expected to work well with HTML 5.

The new browser has completed the alpha stage of production and is now in beta form. That means it is available for download and trial by anyone interested in doing so. The beta launch date was Sept. 15 and open to anyone running 32 or 64-bit versions of Vista or Windows 7. XP users have been excluded from beta testing.

Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in computer repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant. Questions may be sent to him via e-mail at ron@ronpoland.com.

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