What is a browser? (And why does it matter?)
Last month, Blogspotting posted about Google’s poll in Time Square in which pedestrians were asked, “What is a browser?” The vast majority of people surveyed mixed up the term “browser” (the application you use to access the Internet) with “search engine” (a site like Google or Ask.com on which you, well, search for stuff).
The question, of course, is why the heck is the definition of browser important and what does it matter what browser you use? It matters.
Late last week, the social media blog Mashable posted a piece, IE6 Must Die for the Web to Move On, about the sinking ship (browser) that is known as Internet Explorer 6. This browser, ubiquitous for years since its launch in 2001, has fallen out of favor in recent years with the debut of browsers like Google’s Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox and its own successor, IE7 (and, as of a few months ago, IE8). I am told there are any number of programm-y, tech-y reasons why IE6 no longer passes muster, few (okay, none) of which I understand.
What I do understand is that a lot of applications don’t work in IE6. For book publicists, authors and others in the publishing industry, the list of programs that don’t work / don’t work well with IE6 include Facebook and Pitch Engine and TechCrunch reports that YouTube and Digg have also been making noises about dropping support for IE6. TJ Dietderich sent along this cartoon lampooning IE6.
What I also understand is that IE6 lacks “tabs.” This means that each time you open a page in IE6 — and if you’re a book publicist like me constantly monitoring news sites, you have at least half a dozen sites open at once — you have to open a new window which slows down your computer and increases the chances something will freeze / crash. With tabs, you only open one window and each site appears as a seperate tab within that window. In this day and age, using a browser without tabs simply isn’t an acceptable way to live.