Since I stopped working at places that used Netscape, I’ve only really used Internet Explorer. Recently, though, I have come into contact with other things (OK, I admit that one of the “other things” is also IE, but bear with me!)
Firstly, I teach one student group that do everything on laptops with Linux, Open Office and Firefox. The Library has one such machine (to help enquiry staff see things as Firefox users see them, but it has been very handy for me!). We looked at PubMed, Web of Science and RefWorks in a recent session and had no difficulties (apart from me downloading documents and then not being able to find them).
Then, my home laptop has Internet Explorer 8 (I installed this as part of a regular Windows Update). It has tabs, like IE7. But it has various features that can suggest related sites or search results to you – an enhanced search box which suggests sites to you, and buttons that suggest sites related to the one that you are looking at. I don’t have the enhanced search box, and I haven’t yet got on very well with the button, so more research needed. Right clicking things also allows you to quickly send Google Mail email, or blog about things.
The thing that caught my eye, though, about IE8 is the “InPrivate” facility. This opens a new browser window which does not record any history of what you have looked at. As long as the “InPrivate” logo is at the start of the address bar, it will not predict sites as you type into that bar, and going to favorites and history will list nothing. According to Microsoft’s IE8 webpages, this is aimed at people who want to check personal email on a shared PC (in an internet cafe, perhaps), or who want to order presents online. I can imagine that it might enable all sorts of things to go on, and it does not seem to be possible to turn it off.
Last of all, Google Chrome. I recently installed Real Player on my laptop and was offered this, so thought “why not”. I have looked at library webpages and it seems fine, and very quick, which is one of its selling points. But when I tried to access the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch site to report results, it hung and nothing happened. More experimentation needed. I would be interested to hear (or read!) of others’ experience.
We may have users who have these various browsers, so it is good to see them, and hopefully to remember that the browser may be playing a part in any problems we are trying to troubleshoot. It is fair enough to have a preferred one for University purposes, perhaps, but we need to be aware of the wider browsing world.