Readers often ask me to suggest Web browser enhancement tools. Usually the readers are looking for antispam tools, pop-up blockers, or ad blockers, but occasionally they ask about adding toolbars to Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) or even whether they should continue to use IE in light of the constant security problems.
I'm sure that many of you are thinking "Tell them to use Firefox," which is what I suggest to many of these reader queries. But some users don't want to add a new application to their computer, and some, because of strict adherence to safe browsing techniques, are less concerned about protecting themselves from attacks that can affect IE. Although Firefox ( http://www.mozilla.org ) is a good product, the majority of requests I receive are from users who are happy with IE and simply want to enhance their IE experience. They're looking for tools that will streamline browsing and tools that can improve their ability to use the Web.
To this purpose, I've recently started recommending that users download and install the Avant Browser ( http//:www.avantbrowser.com ). Unlike Firefox, Avant Browser doesn't replace IE; it uses IE's structure as installed on the users computer and adds an enhanced UI. The most noticeable difference is that it uses the Multiple Document Interface (MDI) and gives users a tabbed browser in a single window. This approach lets you have multiple Web pages open within one instance of Avant Browser (as opposed to multiple copies of IE running simultaneously), which results in a significant reduction in system resources required to have multiple Web pages open.
Avant Browser adds many other features to the IE experience. One of my personal favorites is its ability to create groups of Web pages that you can open simultaneously. For someone like me, who does a lot of research via the Web, this group functionality is incredibly useful. To create a new group of Web pages, you simply click the Create New Group menu option and select the desired Web pages from a list of the current open Web pages. The group then appears as an entry in the Groups menu, and you can open all the pages in a group with a single click. (You can also open each page individually.)
Although Avant Browser hasn't supplanted IE for all my Web browsing tasks, it's a significant enhancement to much of what I use the Web for and well worth the 1.3MB download. And you can't beat the price--it's free.