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Internet Explorer

Overview | IE Shells | Add-ons

Overview

Internet Explorer (IE) was based on another browser called Spyglass Mosaic which was developed by Spyglass, Inc. Spyglass, Inc. licensed the source code to Microsoft thus changing the name from Spyglass Mosaic to Internet Explorer. If you pay close attention to the information revealed when you select "About Internet Explorer", you will notice this licensing agreement is still acknowledged with the phrase "Distributed under a licensing agreement with Spyglass, Inc." even though Spyglass, Inc. is no longer in existence.

Internet Explorer was designed to view the broadest range of Internet content (i.e. web pages) and provide access to certain features of the Windows operating system such as Windows Update. During the browser wars, IE was known for outdoing Netscape with its ability to support most of the progressive features of that time. It has been the browser of choice for many years since many web pages load and can be viewed with very little to no problems. Since it is tightly integrated with the Windows operating system, it is pre-loaded when you start your system allowing it to load faster when opened. This integration also enables many of the web features seen in more recent versions of Windows. Although IE has good security features, it is constantly under attack by hackers who wish to exploit the security holes they may find. All of the IE Shells mentioned below enhances the security of IE and provide better protection against potential attacks.

LogoInternet Explorer 8 is the latest version of this browser, and will bring IE up to date with other web features available in alternate browser offerings. Some of these features include a revamped interface, tabbed browsing, improved printing capabilities, integrated RSS feeds, improved search, and vastly improved security features. To date, the two biggest criticisms of IE have been security and not totally adhering to web standards. IE 8 continues to attempt to address these issues.

Microsoft provides the Internet Explorer Community where you can find out the latest news, join or view discussions in newsgroups, find resources, and more. As a side note, Internet Explorer version 6 and below are known as "Microsoft Internet Explorer" while version 7 and beyond will be called "Windows Internet Explorer".

IE Shells

The computer software that runs at the core of Internet Explorer is called the Trident Layout Engine, or Trident Shell. The browsers covered in this section are browser applications designed to enhance the Trident shell and are known as Internet Explorer Shells (IE Shell). Enhancements include additional functionality and a new look or design. There are many such enhancements available, but I only cover the top three - Avant Browser, Maxthon, and Slim Browser. You will notice that all three of the IE Shells have already been providing most of the features listed above for IE7. They also will share the same security issues as Internet Explorer, although the IE Shells have better security features.

LogoAvant Browser is developed by Andrew Che and began as a clone of the Opera web browser based on the Trident Shell. In addition to a new look, Avant browser enhances IE by adding the following features: Flash animation filter, Ad/Pop-up blocker, RSS Reader, Mouse Gestures, Tabbed Browsing, Internet Usage Cleaner (i.e. cookies), URL Aliases (i.e. keywords), Improved Search, RSS/Atom Feeds Reader, and is Skinnable. Avant Browser is free but the developer does ask for a donation of any amount mainly to support further development. There is also an Avant Browser Forum where you are able to post questions, participate in discussions, report software bugs, or request new features.

LogoMaxthon Browser, formerly known as MyIE2, is another freeware IE Shell which strives to provide many enhancements without losing any IE compatibility. It adds features such as Tabbed Browsing, Mouse Gestures, Super Drag & Drop, Privacy Protection, Ad Hunter, RSS Feeder, External Utility Bar, and a Skinnable interface. The developers of Maxthon also provide the Maxthon Browser Forum where you are able to post questions, participate in discussions, report software bugs, or request new features. Maxthon version 2.0 is currently under development which will include an improved Ad Hunter as well as be able to use either the Trident or Gecko based rendering engine (i.e. like Netscape 8).

LogoSlim Browser is a freeware IE Shell that attempts to bring you convenient and comfortable browsing experience by incorporating a large set of enhancements. Some of these enhancements are Multiple Site/Tabbed Browsing, Recovery of Closed Windows, Privacy Control (i.e. Pop Ups, Flash, ActiveX), Universal URL Filter (i.e. block site ads), RSS Reader, Expandable Quick-Search, ScriptPad (built-in text editor), a built-in Web Form Spell Checker, and a Skinnable Window Frame. Like the other two IE Shells, a forum is provided but is referred to as the FAQ and provides similar services.

Add-ons

ActiveX, formerly known as Object Linking and Embedding (OLE), is commonly used by web designers to add multi-media files in web pages and is also the foundation by which third party vendors are able to add additional tools to Internet Explorer. Some examples of these tools are search engine toolbars or mini-bars, pop-up blockers, download managers, browser plugins, IE Shells, and a lot more. The Internet Explorer Add-ons web site provide an extensive list to choose from to help make your browsing experience more productive, safe and fun when using IE. Add-ons are so popular for IE that Internet download sites such as CNet Download.com, Downloads at ZDNet, and the Open Directory Project (dmoz.org) have created dedicated sites for IE Add-ons.

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