A sensible browser upgrade

It looks like software developers are finally starting to listen to their customers. Like the North American auto makers of the 1970s, most of the world’s software companies have developed the products they would like to use themselves, and had little regard for the average Jo(sephine) who just wanted to write a letter or send an email. It took the Japanese invasion of fuel efficient, reliable cars to wake up the likes of Ford and GM, but it looks like software makers are seeing the light in their own.

Microsoft’s latest update of its browser software, Internet Explorer 5.1, is a case in point. Rather than load on even more features that most people don’t understand or use, Microsoft has actually improved its browser and simplified things along the way. Early reviews are very positive, starting with the fact that the download for the new browser version is only a 7 MB file for the ‘minimum’ installation.

The setup routine for the program also gives users more control over what features they want than in the past. For example, if you want to run DHTML and Java applications, but don’t want Shockwave or Outlook Express, you can set things up exactly that way. Later on, if u decide you need Outlook, for example, you can add it quickly and easily.

This trend to simplified software is definitely good news, but the fact that it is news at all shows just how little we expect from all the software makers. Would it be news if you could order a car without a CD player, and then change your mind and have one installed, without rebuilding the car?

Carping aside, the new IE 5.1 has received good reviews from technical sites, and is recommended for a host of new features like ‘auto-correct’ that fixes mis-typed URLs and many other useful automation features. If you’re an IE 5 user, it’s worth your time to upgrade.