Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Internet Explorer 8 and 9 have been out for awhile now. Should you install them? Yes, even if you don't use them.
Should I install IE8? What do you think of it?
I installed IE8 and it broke _____ - how do I fix it or revert back to what I had before?
Yes, you should install IE 8 if you're on Windows XP and IE 9 if you're running Windows Vista or Windows 7.
Both have stabilized to the point where prior versions of Internet Explorer are simply no longer advisable. In fact, Internet Explorer 9 specifically is a more compatible and more secure browser overall and deserves serious consideration.
Oh, and I'm not saying that you need to ditch your alternative browsers, like Chrome or Firefox.
I've written about this before - Internet Explorer provides critical components to Windows and many Windows applications. Even if you use a completely different browser - even if Internet Explorer doesn't appear to be on your machine - components of IE are being used.
This means that it's important that you keep Internet Explorer up to date, regardless of whether you use it or not.
Normally, this means simply keeping whatever version you're using - be it IE6, 7, 8 or 9 - up to date with patches for that version.
I'm of the opinion that you should proceed directly to the latest version of Internet Explorer that your operating system supports.
IE6: much like Outlook Express that came out at the same time, use of IE6 is actively being discouraged by not only Microsoft, but just about any technical advice or support person - including me. It's old, it's not secure, and support for it is being dropped by websites worldwide (eventually your favorite website may well stop working unless you upgrade).
IE7 falls into the "OK, if you have to" bucket, but by and large you don't have to. I currently know of no compelling reason to keep IE7 on your machine.
IE8 is the latest and last version of Internet Explorer available for Windows XP. Particularly if you're concerned about making Windows XP last as long as possible, moving to Internet Explorer 8 should be a key component of that strategy. If you want your computer to remain secure for as long as possible - presumably through Windows XP's remaining support lifecycle - you need the latest version of IE to do so.
IE9 is simply a better browser than any of its predecessors. It's faster, it's more secure, and it's going to be supported for a longer period of time - I predict a much longer period of time.
Use Chrome? Firefox? Safari? Opera? Something else entirely?
Then you have even less reason not to upgrade Internet Explorer.
As I said before, IE provides components to other software packages on your machine besides the browser. If you don't happen to like IE for whatever reason, that's fine - don't use it - but do upgrade to the latest version anyway. That way, those components of IE that are being used anyway will be as functional, as secure and as up to date as possible.
So update IE to the latest, even if you never use it.
Yep. It happens.
Here's the catch: nine times out of ten the fault is not with Internet Explorer.
Or in the case of IE9, perhaps there's a problem with it's hardware acceleration that you need to turn off.
There are many possible reasons that IE might have problems and many of them are solvable.
Even if using a different browser is one solution.
Just install the latest version of IE and keep it up to date anyway.
Even though most issues are fixable, if you're concerned at all about having some kind of unrecoverable error after upgrading to the latest IE, there is a safety net.
In fact, it's a safety net that I hope you already have in place.
If you're at all concerned, just make sure you have an up-to-date system image backup, preferably taken just prior to installing the latest IE.
Then, if despite your best efforts at resolving any issues that might arise, you can always revert.
As I said, most of IE's problems of late are not IE at all, but rather other software on the machine, be it malware, addins, or other software that somehow interferes.
If after all is said and done, you find yourself in a situation where you cannot update to IE8 or IE9, then make sure to do so the next time you perform a clean install of your system or the next new system you get.
Chances are that it'll work great at that point.
And you can still elect to use a different browser.
(This is an update to an article originally published April 3, 2009.)