Why Chrome is like an HDTV (and IE8 isn’t)

posted Dec 27, 2012, 7:17 AM by Eric Curts   [ updated Dec 27, 2012, 7:32 AM ]
Web browsers are a lot like television sets.
  • First, they are both tools used to view content.  A TV set is a way to watch shows, just like a web browser is simply a way to access the Internet (it is not the Internet itself).
  • Second, you have many choices for the TV or web browser you use.  For example, you can buy a TV made by Sony or Philips or LG or others.  Likewise you can use a variety of web browsers including Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and many more.
  • Finally, TV’s and web browsers are similar in that some have more features and let you access more content that others. For example, if you do not have an HD TV, you will not be able to view the high definition channels, or if you do not have a 3D capable TV, then you won’t be able to view 3D shows.  Web browsers are the same way.  Older web browsers are not able to display more modern, more advanced web pages and web content.  Some web pages will display incorrectly, while others won’t load at all.
In short, using an old web browser is a lot like trying to watch an HD channel on an old tube television (for those that remember what it means to wait for a TV to warm up).  It just isn't going to work.

So if you want to access the Internet without problems, you obviously need to use the most recent, most up-to-date version of your web browser.  Usually this is not a problem, since many web browsers automatically update themselves, or at least they pop up helpful reminders letting you know it is time to update to a newer version.

Unfortunately when it comes to updates, there is a serious problem with one of the most popular browsers... Internet Explorer.

IE is made by Microsoft and for a long time has been one of the most used web browsers.  However, Microsoft also makes other products, such as their Windows operating system (including Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and most recently Windows 8).  Because Microsoft wants people to buy their newest operating system, they choose to cut off updates for Internet Explorer for people who use an older version of Windows.

Their hope is that this will encourage people to buy new computers, or at least to buy the newest version of Windows.  However, many people are not able to buy a new computer, or are simply content with the older computer they already have.  So unfortunately people using an older version of Windows, get stuck with using an older, outdated version of Internet Explorer.

The best example for this happening is with Windows XP.  Windows XP is an older operating system, having been replaced by Windows Vista, then Windows 7, and now Windows 8.  However, it works very well for most people, and therefore a lot of people still use it.  Unfortunately if you are using Windows XP, the newest version of Internet Explorer that Microsoft will let you use is IE8.

IE8 is a pretty old browser now.  It was released in 2009, and has been replaced with IE9 and now with IE10.  However, if you use Windows XP, you are not able to update to IE9 or IE10.  If you want to stay with Internet Explorer, you have to stay with IE8, which is a lot like using an old tube television now.

Many modern websites will not work properly with IE8.  One of the biggest examples of this is Google Apps.  Our school district uses the Google Apps for Education suite including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and many other services.  According to Google, people who are still using IE8 will see the following limitations:
  • Gmail will automatically forward users to basic HTML view. Users will have the option to revert to regular view for each login session.
  • Users on IE8 can only compose email in Gmail using basic HTML. Features such as the new compose experience in Gmail will not work in IE8.
  • Google Calendar will provide read-only access.
  • Google Slides and Drawings will not be available (as has been the case since early 2011).
Thankfully just like with TV’s, you have options for which browser you use.  There are many excellent alternatives to Internet Explorer that work perfectly with Windows XP.  For example, even if you are still using Windows XP for your operating system, you are able to use the latest version of the Chrome, Firefox, or Opera web browsers.

So what browser should you use?  Although any of the browsers listed above are good choices, my recommendation is Google Chrome. Chrome is an excellent web browser for many reasons:
  • It is fast - Chrome is very quick at loading web pages and running interactive content.
  • It is easy to use - No matter what web browser you have used before, Chrome is easy to use right away.
  • It is secure - Chrome auto-updates to always make sure you have the latest version, and protects you with built-in malware protection.
  • It is customizable - If you want, you can add new features by adding loads of extensions and web apps to Chrome from the Chrome Web Store: https://chrome.google.com/webstore
  • It can sync - Also if you want, you can tell Chrome to remember all your settings, so no matter what computer you go to, Chrome can load your bookmarks, passwords, apps, extensions, and more.
Over the last several years Chrome has quickly risen to be the most used web browser in the world.  See the graph below from StatCounter (http://gs.statcounter.com/) where Chrome is represented by the green line.

Another benefit of Google Chrome is how well it works with other Google services.  This is especially helpful for schools like ours that use Google Apps for Education.  For example Chrome is the only browser to support the following advanced features:
  • Offline support for Gmail, Calendar, and Drive
  • Drag & drop into Gmail
  • Copy/paste images into Gmail
  • Email, calendar and chat notification popups
  • Native printing in Google Docs
  • Upload folders into Drive
In the end, the Internet is constantly growing and adding new and different content.  To make sure you can access all this new content, you need to make sure you are using a modern, up-to-date web browser.  If you are still using Windows XP for your operating system, and are stuck with an old web browser like IE8, your best bet is to switch over to a more modern browser such as Chrome or Firefox or such.

Where IE8 is like an old tube TV, Google Chrome is like a new 1080p HD 3D Plasma television.

Although web browsers are a lot like TV’s, thankfully one important difference is that web browsers are free.  To get the latest HD or 3D TV channels, you may need to purchase a new television.  But to get the latest, fastest, most secure access to the Internet, all you need to do is download Google Chrome for free from: https://www.google.com/chrome

Once you have installed Chrome, you can easily import all your old bookmarks, passwords, and other settings from Internet Explorer.  Simply do the following:
  • Click the settings button   in the top right corner of Chrome.
  • Choose "Bookmarks" from the drop down menu.
  • Choose "Import bookmarks and settings" from the pop up menu.
  • Select what you wish to import and click the "Import" button.