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Internet Explorer is getting a bad rap lately, and the fact is, a lot of other options are out there. Heck, some of those options are Internet Explorer, just in a different package. So, is it Firefox or some other alternative?

Jason Parker
Internet Explorer is getting a bad rap lately, and the fact is, a lot of other options are out there. Heck, some of those options are Internet Explorer, just in a different package. So, is it Firefox or some other alternative?

It should come as no surprise that most people who use Windows also use Internet Explorer. It's not a bad choice, of course; it's on the cutting edge of Web standards compliance, has a familiar look and feel, integrates with the OS and Windows Explorer, and now comes with added security in Service Pack 2 for Windows XP. Really, it's the obvious choice. But is it the best choice?

A number of browsers are available that can do everything IE does and more, but a lot of people never even see these "little guys" because they never knew these options existed. Some of the more popular off-brands include Mozilla, the constantly evolving project long ago based on the once megabrowser Netscape; Opera, the full-featured browser that has always touted quickness as a key advantage; and numerous browsers based on IE, with added features to make them even better than the original.

I personally use one of the browsers based on IE, but I don't claim that it's the hands-down best option. Choosing a browser is, I think, more a question of what you like and need when surfing the Internet. With that in mind, I'd like to offer a few browser options that IE users should consider.

Maxthon (the browser formerly known as MyIE2) is based on Internet Explorer and is the browser I use on a daily basis. I'm a big fan of tabs, and Maxthon seems to have the most flexibility with how they're handled in the options menu. I also like that bookmarks are displayed in columns side by side, because when you have as many bookmarks as I have, it helps a lot to be able to see them all at a glance. (Free/Windows)

Opera has a large following and for good reason; it's a solid and speedy browser with great features. It takes some getting used to if you're a lifelong IE user, but it might be worth the effort for the speed, integrated IRC chat, and e-mail capabilities. My advice to those who are initially turned off by Opera's crowded interface is to dig deep in the settings and tweak it to your liking. You'll be surprised at how much customisation is possible. (Free/Windows)

Mozilla Firefox, now going through its final testing phases before a full release, looks like it has what it takes to be the next big thing. Lightweight and efficient, Firefox lets you download plug-ins and skins so that you can customise it for your surfing pleasure. I've been using this browser on and off for a while, and I think it's great. If someday it offers a little more flexibility with tabs and the ability to see my bookmarks all at once like Maxthon does, I'll leave IE behind completely. (Free/Windows)

As you can see, the most important features are the ones that make your surfing experience more pleasurable. If you're an IE user who is ready to try something new, take one of these browsers for a test-drive.

What's your favourite browser? Don't forget to put in your vote in the TalkBack section below.