Reasons not to use Internet Explorer:
It's widely acknowledged amongst computer geeks that Internet Explorer is a pretty bad web browser, but most people just put up with it. Here are a few highlights of what the main criticisms are, and what alternatives are available.
"Web developers and makers of web authoring tools say [Microsoft] has allowed CSS bugs to linger for years, undermining technology that promises to significantly cut corporate web site design costs."
- Developers Gripe About IE Standards Inaction, CNET1
IE renders many web pages incorrectly. Usually you won't notice a major difference, but that's only because web designers spend a lot of the time getting their sites to work in IE because of its popularity. Often they have to choose between making a site look great in everything but IE, or merely look good in everything including IE. If people exclusively used web browsers that rendered pages correctly, web designers would have much more freedom to make their sites look more aesthetically pleasing.
It may not be available on your operating system
"Microsoft said it would continue to support Internet Explorer 5 for the Mac for the foreseeable future, but development of the browser has been discontinued. Any future updates to the browser will only contain maintenance or security fixes, no new features."
- Microsoft Drops Development of Internet Explorer for Mac, Macworld2
IE is only available on Windows and MacOS, and development on the MacOS version has now ceased. If you're using any other operating system, you can't install it. Other web browsers are available that have been ported across to many different operating systems, ensuring that the look and feel of the browser is consistent whatever you're using.
"On the date of the study, none of the 63 documents on MSN's home page was valid according to W3C specifications."
- MSN, Opera and Web Standards, A List Apart3
The W3C is the organization that comes up with recommendations for how the web should work. They wrote the specifications for HTTP and HTML, for instance. While they stress these are only recommendations, not standards, it's a good idea for programmers who make web servers and web clients to follow the recommendations as closely as possible. Both Netscape and Internet Explorer have tried making up their own proprietary HTML elements, such as
<marquee> (arguably two of the most annoying elements there are, as they involve movement that draws the reader's eye away from whatever it is they were actually trying to read). Microsoft take things much further than Netscape, however. Because they make the operating system that their browser runs in, they first gave IE away for free (as in price, not the freedom to see how it works) and then claimed it was a part of Windows itself. They have also badly written (or allegedly sabotaged, depending on how you look at it) one of their own web sites, msn.com, so that web browsers other than IE won't display the pages properly because they're not valid HTML.
It's out of date
Computer technology and standards move at a very fast rate. In a time when free software is constantly being updated by people from around the world, it's amazing that, security patches aside, Microsoft got away without updating their web browser in several years. The latest version at time of writing, version 6.0, was released in October 2001. This means it lacks any recent innovations, such as tabbed browsing or mouse gestures.
You aren't allowed to see how it works
Using an out of date web browser wouldn't be so bad if you could update it yourself. Better yet, wait for someone else to install new features and fix the bugs and publicly release their improvements, so everyone else can download the new version. However, no one is allowed to see how IE works, let alone improve it for everyone's benefit. As is the case with all proprietary, closed source software, only employees of the company that owns the copyright are allowed to improve it in any way.
It has major security holes
"Users are being told to avoid using Internet Explorer until Microsoft patches a serious security hole in it."
- Web Browser Flaw Prompts Warning, BBC News4
As mentioned previously, it's out of date and you can't improve it yourself. This means that once a new security vulnerability has been made public, you have to patiently wait for the corporation's employees to release a new patch which fixes the issue. And this browser has a lot of security issues, especially since Microsoft decided that its web browser should be an integral part of the Windows operating system itself.
So what are the alternatives?
"Internet Explorer, you're fired."
- Firefox Leaves No Reason to Endure Internet Explorer, Washington Post5
There are several alternatives to choose from. For instance, Mac OS X has Camino and Safari, and Mac OS X, Windows and GNU/Linux can all run Firefox. For those that still don't trust anything with the word "free" in it, the closed source Opera is available for Windows, MacOS (8, 9 and X), GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, BeOS and other platforms too. All four are vast improvements to Internet Explorer, and installing any of them is simple enough for anyone to do. In short, you don't have to put up with pop-up adverts, crashes and incorrectly displayed web pages any more.