IE 7.0 and Attractive Alternatives

Microsoft recently released Internet Explorer (IE) 7.0 Beta 2 for public download (first URL below). Even with the security and other improvements in IE 7.0, some people still think IE is substandard or that using IE is the equivalent of painting a target on your forehead. Still others have more scathing comments about IE: Industry luminary John Dvorak recently called IE a "dead albatross" in a column published on PC Magazine's Web site (second URL below).

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/default.mspx

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1952995,00.asp

Dvorak thinks that trying to integrate the browser tightly with the OS was one of Microsoft's worst moves ever. That argument makes some sense given the number of security vulnerabilities that continue to be discovered in the browser. Dvorak thinks Microsoft should ditch IE and instead invest in Opera Software and make a large donation to Mozilla Foundation to help boost development of their respective browsers.

Such a move by Microsoft isn't likely. In fact, Microsoft is driving forward with IE tool proliferation. If you have a copy of IE 7.0, head over to Microsoft's "Add-Ons for Internet Explorer Web site at the URL below, where you'll find at least 63 third-party security-related tools arranged in four categories: Online Protection tools help guard against spyware and malware; Pop-Up Blockers are probably self-explanatory; Privacy tools help protect against exposure of your private information and guard against spyware and malware; and Parental Controls control online activity and help protect your children against a range of risks. Although the site claims to be for IE add-ons, you'll find many standalone tools, such as Microsoft Windows Defender and Lavasoft's Ad-Aware.

http://www.ieaddons.com

If IE 7.0 won't run on your particular platforms, then undoubtedly you know about Firefox ( http://www.getfirefox.com ) and Opera ( http://www.opera.com ), and might opt to use those browsers instead. But do you know about Maxthon Browser, Tablane, and Avant Browser?

Maxthon Browser, by Maxthon International, is designed on top of the IE engine and introduces a ton of new functionality not available in Microsoft's versions of IE. For example, Maxthon offers tabbed browsing, enhanced pop-up blocking, a quick way to delete private information that might be stored by the browser, enhanced drag-and-drop features, support for extensions and plug-ins, support for skins, support for many languages, and a whole lot more. In short, Maxthon (at the URL below) is what IE should have been years ago.

http://www.maxthon.com

Two other browsers, which are also based on the IE engine and which, you might look into further are Tablane by Tablane Technology (at the first URL below) and Avant Browser, by Avant Force (at the second URL below). Tablane has some nice features, such as "lanes," which are a way of displaying multiple Web pages in a single view. Other features include support for Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds and a unique function that lets you use multiple search engines at once.

http://www.tablane.com

http://www.avantbrowser.com

Avant Browser claims to be "the fastest browser on Earth" and has many interesting features, some of which are similar to those found in Maxthon, such as enhanced pop-up blocking and privacy controls. However, Avant doesn't use the common tabbed interface--instead it displays many resizable windows inside the browser's single window interface. Look at the screen capture on the browser's home page to see what I mean. Avant Force also says that Avant has "no security holes," which is an extraordinary claim. I'm sure security researchers will eventually put that claim to many tests.

So even if you can't use the new IE 7.0 for some reason, several alternatives can enhance the functionality and security of your current installation of IE. Do some research and testing to see if any of the alternatives might fit your needs.

TAGS: Security
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