Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

My take on whether to upgrade, which to use, and why.

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Hi everyone, this is Leo Notenboom with news, commentary and answers to some of the many questions I get at askleo.info.

So the big news this last week was the near simultaneous release of Internet Explorer version 7, and Firefox version 2. Naturally the tech press is all a'twitter over the feature sets, the competition, and what each means to the future of the other.

IE7 has been a long time coming. But I have to say that many of the changes really have me shaking my head.

For example, the address bar is now above the menu bar - and you can't move it. Now I'll admit, losing the address bar is a frequent problem, but cementing it to the top of the window in a new and unfamiliar location was not, in my opinion, the answer.

Example number two: where's the friggen home button? It's completely beyond me why they would move one of the most commonly used buttons to a completely different, and I'll say bizarre location.. (Can't find it? Look sorta off to the right on the bar that has the new browser tabs. Took me a while too.)

Now, I'm certain ... ok, I'm hopefully ... that IE 7 includes all of IE 6's security updates. There's also list of new security related features, most interesting of which might be the anti-phishing trap. Personally I'm looking forward to learning whether the "Diagnose Connection Problems..." tool actually helps - that's another very common problem I hear about here at Ask Leo!.

Firefox 2 is a more subtle upgrade. In fact, unlike IE 6 to 7, about the only thing you'll first notice after upgrading is that several of your extensions won't work - though those do seem to be getting updated relatively quickly. Like IE 7, Firefox 2 includes several enhancements - including, surprise, a new phishing filter.

But upgrading FireFox certainly isn't as jarring as upgrading IE. In fact, upgrading from IE 6 to FireFox 2 is probably less of a usage change than an upgrade to IE 7.

So here's my recommendation, for IE and Firefox users alike:

  • Upgrade to IE7. You can do it now, if you like, or you can simply wait for the expected push through Windows Update. I'm trying it both ways to see how that goes.

  • Also install or update to FireFox 2. I've done this on both of my primary machines.

The bottom line? IE is really a part of Windows and is used by many other applications. This and future updates should continue to improve the security of your system. But that doesn't mean you need to use it as your browser. Go ahead and use this opportunity to switch and begin using Firefox as your browser.

It's what I do.

I'd love to hear what you think. Visit ask leo dot info, and enter 10851 in the go to article number box. Leave me a comment, I love hearing from you.

This is a presentation of askleo.info, a free on-line technical question and answer service. Hundreds of questions and answers are online and ready to help solve your computer problems.

That's askleo.info.

Article C2823 - October 29, 2006 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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26 Comments
Luke
October 30, 2006 12:13 AM

Leo,you realise that this may be the longest comment list in the history of "Ask Leo"
It may also be the most inflammatory,lol
Thanks for your site,it is appreciated,
Luke.

Al Kubeluis
October 30, 2006 4:24 AM

Hi Leo,
I have done what you recommend. I've been using FireFox for 2 years, and still prefer it to IE7. The free McAfee SiteAdvisor that is a FF add-on is very good also.

Dave
October 30, 2006 6:14 AM

Hi Leo - I'm also running FF and IE side-by-side. IE is still my default browser, but some sites just work better with FF. I've turned the menu bar OFF in IE7. The access keys will still cause it to appear, when necessary. And I'm really glad that ALT-F, X, now does what every other Windows app does.

Dan Ullman
October 30, 2006 10:59 AM

It should be noted that if you have I.E. 6x on your machine you NEED to upgrade to I.E 7. That various problems with I.E. 6 are not going to be repaired.

Mary
October 31, 2006 8:31 AM

At various times I've used Opera, Firefox, etc in addition to IE6. At various times they've ALL exhibit quirks, problems, frustrations, and hair-pulling episodes. So to me, it's just a marketing ploy by Microsoft, Mozilla, etc. to try to gain new customers. (The old "look what we have to offer" sales pitch.) I think I'll stick with IE6 until such time Microsoft completely removes it from their inventory. Maybe by then, they'll have all the bugs worked out of IE7. I wish someone would clearly state why I NEED to upgrade from IE6 to IE7, and why I NEED to do it right now and not 6 months or a year from now.

Leo Notenboom
October 31, 2006 4:30 PM

My take is that you don't need to - at least not right now. The rumor is that you may get it anyway via Windows Automatic Updates, but it's unclear if that's a choice, or something you can uninstall afterwards.

My belief is that at some point IE 6 will no longer be supported with patches for vulnerabilities. When? Who knows?

Channing
November 3, 2006 6:56 PM

I agree-Firefox 2 is the way to go. I had upgraded to IE7, It was nothing but troubles. It was very slow in loading, cannot close it when prompted to close, every time accessing it/the first thing that popup is a download box to choose Regular or Accelerate(I am not downloading anything!), I was not able to access my Email anymore when I click on my desktop email icon, poor interface configuration, couple crashes. It was more than I can take, in which I uninstalled IE7,and back to normal-using Firefox2 with IE tab has been a pleasure. Thanks. Channing.

Burnsy
November 3, 2006 7:34 PM

I've used them all, and have been using SeaMonkey which transcends IE, and FireFox... SeaMonkey has both browser and email, and love them both..

Mr.B.

Bob Troman
November 3, 2006 8:04 PM

No one has yet convinced me that any of the above mentioned browsers are as fast or has been on the leading edge of the features Avant Browser has brought forward.

DocCrain
November 3, 2006 9:07 PM

OPERA! OPERA! OPERA! I got IE7 and have uninstalled it. I got FF2 and don't like it as well as 1.505. Am going back. Opera 9.02 is smooth, fast, intuituive, and very customizable.
Use it for everything, and if a site doesn't support it--I DON'T SUPPORT THEM. Period.
You can download/install/import bookmarks and customize Opera in 20 min. Try it-you'll like it!

1101doc

Bill
November 3, 2006 9:53 PM

I installed and used IE7 for a short while but because of several irritating changes I uninstalled it. Maybe I was too hasty since I am using Firefox 2 as my browser.

The biggest irritation to me was having to type "www." in the address bar to go to a web site, ie whereas in IE6 and in Firefox2 just is sufficient. Small thing, but several small thing were enough to get me to uninstall.

Bob
November 3, 2006 9:58 PM

Hi Leo.
I have had IE7 since it was still in Beta. No major problems to report, but I am just not a big fan of it. I prefer FireFox 2, but I cannot get it to open for me on my main account. I have had to open a separate XP user acct. and am using FF2 there....happily. I also agree with DocCrain. The Opera browser is also very good.
Now, if only all sites would work with ALL browsers, maybe peace and harmony would rule the internet. Right!
Bob

Dr. Arthur F. Billy
November 4, 2006 12:08 AM

Concerning Internet Explorer 7

People never cease to amaze me. It seems no one had anything positive to say about Internet Explorer 7. Change is inevitable. Some good and some bad. Please find some good things once in a while.

I have used Main Frames for 42 years and Desktops, both PC's and Macintosh for about 15 years.

I use a Dell XPS 600 computer Dual Core Pentium 3.2 GHz CPU and 2 GB Dual Matched RAM. The Operating System Software is Windows XP, SP2. I use two Dell 20 inch 2007FP LCD Monitors with two Nvidia Ge Force 6800 video cards, 256 M, Nvidia Forceware V 91.33 Driver and integrated TV Encoder.

I downloaded and installed Internet Explorer 7 with some trepidation as very few things Microsoft puts out work properly the first time without any problems.IE 7 downloaded and installed without any problems whatsoever.

It opened without any problems and it did not take me long to find the changes to the interface. It is pretty intuitive although there are quite a few hidden menus to explore.
Have a positive outlook on everything in Desktop PC computing. It is a miracle the blessed things even work.

So the Home button has been moved. So what? It is right there on the right for you to see. Does it really deserve a whole paragraph, Quote:" Example number two: where's the friggen home button? It's completely beyond me why they would move one of the most commonly used buttons to a completely different, and I'll say bizarre location... (Can't find it? Look sorta off to the right on the bar that has the new browser tabs. Took me a while too)". What on earth is bizarre about the location??

Why does it bother you to have the address bar “cemented“above the menu bar so that you cannot move it. At least Microsoft solved the problem of you frequently loosing your address bar. Heavens forbid it was also moved to a new and unfamiliar location!!! I assume that we all have to adapt. Its location did not bother me at all. So please do tell what is the answer?

I really cannot see what the problem is Leo for you to state : "But I have to say that many of the changes really have me shaking my head."

You do not bother to tell us what these changes are that evoked you shaking your head. I did not encounter any problems yet. Some, may crop up as I explore Internet Explorer further. So far it is working fine and I am tickled pink with the enhanced Printing function and so should all of you.

You do not bother even to mention what I consider a very nice change in IE, namely PRINTING.

Using IE 6 as your browser, when you print articles in the portrait mode from Websites or printed out your Bank Statements after you logged into your account, a portion of the right hand edge, the full vertical length of the right edge of whatsoever it is that you were printing, was cut off. I always considered that a pain in the Glutus Maximus until I bought the wonderful Hewlett Packard Laser Jet 2420 Dn printer which allows me to print any highlighted section. Remember you had a question and response on that recently.

IE 7 places it all within the space that you have setup on your 8 1/2 x 11 sheets and allows you to set varying percentage magnifications

I assume that there are more new goodies in IE7 which are to be explored yet, for example RSS,

Is it possible that Microsoft finally got something right the first time? It looks promising .

With Best Regards,

Arthur F. Billy

Tony Valente
November 4, 2006 5:15 AM

You're right on target with FF2 -- it's great. As far as IE7, I've heard that it's very slow and I'm waiting until the absolute last minute to download it.

Great site, Leo.

Hylda Moore
November 4, 2006 8:45 AM

I found a tweak for IE 7 that puts the File, ETC at the top of the window. AND IT WORKS!
http://www.enhanceie.com/ie/tweaks.asp

Wayne Scharf
November 4, 2006 9:35 AM

...AND FOR US THAT CAN'T LEAVE WIN98SE, FIREFOX IS A COMPATIBLE GODSEND!

Thunder
November 4, 2006 12:11 PM

I have had no problem with IE 7. Firefox gave me problems when I tried to use it as I am very dumb when it comes to computers. I keep mine going all the time though and IE 7 has made that easy for me. Not to mentioned , the many tool bars available with no problem, making music etc. available right handy!


Doing a good job Bill for the little guy.

Cheers from Canada.

Nancy
November 5, 2006 2:47 AM

I've successfully used the "diagnose connection problems" tool. That seems to be the most valuable thing in IE7. I'm with you: FF for browsing, as the new IE interface is driving me crazy.

Carl
November 5, 2006 8:26 PM

I have been using FF for several months now, and am now using FF2. It is FAR superior than IE7 (which, I might add, is STILL very buggy). It amazes me that if you have an open source platform like FF, it is STILL safer to use than IE7! And for that matter, Microsoft CONTINUES to ignore what people really WANT in a browser. It is totally UN-customizable, considering that FF releases 5-7 extensions, and the same number of themes DAILY to add to the experience. I use IE6 (I had to reformat my computer after I installed IE7) for ONE site - only because it is written specifically for IE - otherwise, it's FF2 FOREVER.

Arthur
November 6, 2006 5:03 PM

I really like IE7 and so far I have zero problems. The download from Windows Update took 6 minutes, including the installation! Someone mentioned that IE7 is slower than IE6--I have not found that to be the case. Without disparaging Firefox 2, I must say that the Tabs work well. As for the location of the Home icon, yes, it bothered me....but really, I have to give the program designer some leeway. You should not dwell on "minor" features which you dislike....it reminds me of Consumer Reports going crazy because of some "trivial" safety defect which would only endanger a moron. I like reading Leo's responses, even if they're not quite what I would write (actually they're better...). Let's emphasize the improvements, and IE7 has a lot of them.

Lilian
November 7, 2006 12:16 AM

I downloaded IE7 quickly and easily and I love it!
I especially like being able to rearrange the toolbars the way I prefer them. I have always used Internet Explorer and have never had any problems.
Cheers from New Zealand!

laverne hargett
November 11, 2006 7:59 AM

you have a wonderful site.I'm sure it's a lot of help to everyone that uses it. I will disagree with people who says IE7 is great. I would love to go back to IE6, but I haven't figured out how to change back.

Rodney Horne
November 28, 2006 7:42 AM

I have a Dell XPS 600 with Pentium D CPU with 2.8 GHz with 1 GB ram and Window XP Media Center edition Version 2002 with Service Pack 2, I recently downloaded Internet Explorer version 7 upgrade. Since that time, I am not able to access the desk top icons (Short Cuts) to access the internet. However, if I open Internet Explorer and use my favorites to access a site it works ok. Thank you for any help you can give me,
Rodney Horne

Tony
December 12, 2006 1:50 PM

I installed IE7 and now whenever i go to hotmail, it creates another page behind it. So, when i am finished with email, i have to close the second window also.
Any ideas why this happens????


PS... IE7 is crap and should not be forced down your throat with an automatic update.

Tony

Michael Ferris
December 15, 2006 6:25 PM

i've used Firefox for some time now and installed 2.0. I also have IE7 and I find after weeks of using them I use IE7 more. Firefox has a number of problems that IE7 doesn't have. The main issues are that you have to set them up properly to use either one. Many people are so predisposed to love one or the other they usually don't take the time to actually evaluate them carefully. While FF works well for most people I can list multiple problems with it. It performs best on highspeed line access but is abysmal on dialup. There is a utility that allows you to compact FF to help performance. It works well. FF doesn't always fill in saved userids and passwords properly. FF doesn't display all sites properly. FF doesn't display buttons on all sites properly. All of these things IE7 DOES properly every time.
I have customized IE7 to my own use putting the Menu Bar at the top with the Google Bar tacked on the end of it. Then the Links bar is displayed and then the status bar with the tabs at the bottom. The only comment I'd make is there needs to me better colour on the tabs to differentiate the between active sites.
the bottom line is anyone who flatly state either FF or IE7 is "crap" is an idiot with little background in either.

Robin Cox
February 15, 2010 2:28 AM

ie7 is a poorly working browser. It does not use standard rendering of css which means that you still often have to write ie hacks in your code when programming a web page.

Firefox 2 on the other hand does render css as it should and therefore your valid web page shows as intended from start.

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