J.D. Fox Micro Resource Center
You obviously already have a web browser, since you're here. This page provides easy access to several alternative web browsers you can install alongside the ones you already have, or upgrades to those already installed.
It's quite useful to have more than one web browser on your computer. While you might need Internet Explorer to access a website that requires ActiveX, you might also find that a certain website crashes all the time in Internet Explorer, but runs just fine in Chrome (or vice-versa).
The focus here is on web browsers for desktop and laptop computers, and not for mobile phones. If you have an older computer, you may find that many of these browsers will not install. In that case, you should consider upgrading to a new computer if you do any web browsing at all. Using an old browser exposes you to well-known security exploits that are only fixed by running a current, modern web browser that has fixed the bugs in previous versions.
Microsoft Internet Explorer
Still the leader in overall usage for desktops and laptops, Microsoft Internet Explorer also supports some exclusive interactive technologies not available in other browsers, most significantly ActiveX. Websites have broadly moved towards using more universal technologies (such as Java and HTML 5), but many ActiveX-based websites still exist. Also, many camera security systems that allow for remote viewing in a web browser require Internet Explorer.
Microsoft has been criticized for various aspects of Internet Explorer over the years the same as they get criticized for everything they do (whether fairly or not). These aspects include widely-publicized security flaws, and breaking from standards in the name of innovation. In the end, though, for maximum compatibility, Internet Explorer is often the best option.
The latest version, Internet Explorer 11, was released in November 2013 and only runs on Windows 7 or Windows 8. If you have Windows Vista, you can only use Internet Explorer 9. Windows XP only supports up to Internet Explorer 8.
In general, you should download the latest version your computer supports to ensure you are not vulnerable to known security flaws, and that your browser fully supports the latest websites and add-ons. However, version 11 is quite different and has problems with some websites. So, for users with Windows 7 that still have Internet Explorer 9, we have provided links to download version 10 directly as an option below.
We also have links to Internet Explorer 8 and 9 for users of Windows XP and Windows Vista, respectively, who have not upgraded their Internet Explorer browser in a long time.
Download the latest version of Internet Explorer
The link directly below will detect your version of Windows and present you with the latest version of Internet Explorer your computer supports. This now only works for Windows Vista and later. If you have Windows XP, it will only tell you to upgrade your computer to Windows 8.1 or buy a new computer! To download Internet Explorer for Windows XP, see below.
The remaining links in this section are direct links to download files from Microsoft for specific versions.
Windows 7 (requires Service Pack 1) or Windows 8.x
Windows Vista (requires Service Pack 2)
Windows XP (requires Service pack 2)
Windows, Mac, and Linux
A descendant of Netscape Navigator, Firefox was once the most popular alternative to Internet Explorer for Windows users. It came out around the time numerous security problems with Internet Explorer made the news regularly, and for a while it had better features than Internet Explorer before Microsoft caught up, garnering sort of a cult following. It is not immune to security flaws as some believe, and you still may encounter websites that do not work as well in Firefox as in Internet Explorer. Many functions that seem to work automatically in Internet Explorer require you to manually download and install a plug-in for Firefox—for example, to play a Windows Media file embedded in a web page. However, the process of getting plug-ins has improved over the years, and is now quite smooth.
The publisher of Firefox updates its full version number, and declares the previous version obsolete with no further security updates, every few months. But, the current version will still install on Windows XP. For Mac, the latest version requires OS X 10.6 or later. As for Linux, see the instructions with the download package for required supporting software libraries.
Mozilla recently added support for signing in to a Firefox Sync account, to synchronize your favorites and history like Google Chrome has done for a while, and that Microsoft Windows 8 now supports. This is particularly useful if you're a Firefox fan and have installed it on your mobile phone too.
Overall, Firefox is a decent program that might satisfy your personal taste, but it is not as well-suited for a managed business network as Internet Explorer.
Windows, Mac, and Linux
Look for the blue "Download now" button to download the appropriate installer for your computer. If you access this page using Chrome, you won't see the button.
This is for selecting and downloading the installer file directly, for advanced users (Windows and Mac only; see below).
The standard installer puts the Chrome program files in your user profile folders, so you don't need administrator permissions on your computer to install and run it. But, each user who shares a computer will have to install it separately. Google offers a separate download to install Chrome for all users on a Windows or Mac computer, called the alternate installer, which you can use if you're a system administrator and want to do it this way, or if the standard installer doesn't work for some reason.
Read more about Apple Safari (not a download link)
Apple Safari is derived from the same codebase as Google Chrome, and is therefore quite fast. It is owned by Apple and only runs on Mac computers and other Apple devices.
Earlier versions did run on Windows as well as Mac computers. But in July 2012, Apple intensified its focus on supporting Mac computers and Apple services with Safari. Apple introduced Safari 6 around the same time as their latest operating system for the Mac at the time, OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion). It added support for many innovative features, such as iCloud tabs, which saves your place in Apple's iCloud (if you sign up for the service), meaning you can pick up where you left off on another Mac, iPad, or iPhone.
Unlike the previous versions of Safari, you cannot download Safari 6 or later through a web browser. Safari is now a component of the OS as of OS X 10.8, so it gets updated only when you update the OS itself. For Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) and earlier you can get the latest version of Safari your computer supports through your Mac's built-in Software Update function. The latest version of Safari that runs on Microsoft Windows is version 5.1.7, but this is no longer available for download from Apple's website.
Windows, Mac, Linux
While relatively unknown to desktop and laptop users in the U.S., Opera is the built-in browser on a tremendous number of non-computer platforms, such as gaming systems and mobile phones, worldwide. It was also popular in Europe for a while. It has been around for a surprisingly long time, having been first released in 1996 when the web was still very new. Opera introduced mobile versions in 2006 for devices such as the Nokia and Treo feature phones and BlackBerry phones (before the iPhone or Android existed). The Opera Mini version is still available, runs on virtually any phone, and uses Opera's servers to cache and compress web pages to speed up browsing from mobile phones.
Opera has been known for being feature-rich and innovative, with functionality beyond just web browsing. In the current era, you might want to install Opera if you just want to try a different experience.
Note: On Windows computers, Opera will make itself your default browser without asking first upon installation—it is the only browser linked on this page that we have observed doing this. To avoid this, click the Options button, which you will see after the download completes. But, when you open it later, it still may make itself the default browser anyway without asking.