Web Browsers

There is more than Internet Explorer

If you have any version of Microsoft Windows (95, 98, Me, 2K, XP, Vista or Windows 7) Internet Explorer (IE) came with your computer, but it is not the only browser.

About Web Browser Programs

A web browser program reads HTML - Hyper Text Mark-up Language sent over the Internet when you visit a web site and renders that text into what you see and hear on your computer.

HTML looks like this:



When a web browser renders that code, it looks like this:

HTML Rendered


The exact content of the HTML language is defined by the World Wide Web Consortium. The W3C is an industry group that sets interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential.

Internet Explorer

Although Microsoft is a member of the W3C, it tends to wander off and implement non-standard HTML that is only rendered properly by Internet Explorer. Since the rest of the world does not conform to Microsoft standards, you might not see a web page the way the author intended. Many corporations and government agencies will not use IE because of security concerns. You see the number of patches Microsoft makes to Internet Explorer. Many of these "bugs" expose the end user to security risks. One way to minimize the exposure is to use another browser. You can install as many as you like on any computer. They will not interfere with one another.

Many corporations and government agencies have prohibited the use of IE because of security issues. In Europe, a longstanding anti-trust action against Microsoft was settled in 2009 by allowing the choice of a web browser to all users in Europe. See Ars Technica for details.

You too have a choice. You have the option of downloading many other web browsers. All are free. You need to keep IE on your system for Windows updates but you don't have to use it for web browsing. The other browsers are more secure and offer additional features.

Mozilla Firefox

By far the most popular alternative to IE is Firefox. Firefox is also free but you first have to download it from the Mozilla web site on the Internet. Mozilla wrote Firefox in the Java programming language. Java programs will run on any computer with a Java Virtual Machine or JVM. All PC's, Apple's, Linux, mainframes have a JVM, so programs written in Java, will run on any computer. Further Mozilla split off the rendering engine into another component called Gecko. Gecko is the rendering engine in over twenty other web browsers.

For complete instructions on downloading any browser see our Download page.

For more information on Firefox, see our Firefox Help Topic.

Google Chrome

Chrome is a relatively new web browser from Google. It too is free and may be downloaded HERE.

Chrome is available for computers and mobile phones.


The Opera web browser has been around for a long time and has a loyal following of users. It offers enhanced security as well as computer, mobile phone and PDA versions. It may be downloaded for free HERE.


Like Internet Explorer, Safari is included with every Apple computer. There is also a free Windows version available from Apple HERE. If you're used to an Apple, you may already be familiar with Safari.

AOL web browser

If you're clicking on the web browser in the AOL home page you are using AOL's web browser. This browser is also non-standard and may not render pages correctly.

But the good news is that it's easy to use any other browser. For example, if you wanted to use IE with AOL, simply start AOL as usual, minimize AOL and start IE. IE will use your AOL connection to browse the web.


There are other web browsers, but those are the most popular. Whatever you use is a personal choice. The best way to choose is to download them all and decide for yourself.