New Internet Explorer – but not if you have Windows XP

By | April 1, 2011
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In the Computers newsletter this month:
  • New Internet Explorer – but not if you have Windows XP
  • A video about saving money on printer ink (does it work for you?)
  • Pete’s tip: Make browsing the web quicker
  • Another book that’s not from me!

Hard to believe it’s April already – a quarter of the way through the year! But this time I’ve got more detail on something I mentioned back in February, a trick that could save you money on printer ink and a tip from next door.

Internet Explorer – next version now out

There’s a new version of Internet Explorer out – version 9. I first mentioned it back in February (/NL150211.htm). It’s now available to download and no doubt at some point Microsoft will automatically give everyone the option to upgrade to it without having to download it “by hand”.

Unless you have Windows XP, that is. The newest version only runs on Windows Vista or Windows 7. I suspect this is an attempt to get people to upgrade to newer versions of Windows rather than because it couldn’t run on XP – and if you’re happy using XP, then my advice is to stick to it. (In fact it’s what I use at work unless I’m testing out how something works on Windows Vista or Windows 7)

But if you can use the new version of Internet Explorer, is it worth upgrading? Have they made it any better?

Well, as I mentioned before they’ve copied a couple of good features from Google Chrome: the search box and address box are now one and if you type in a web address it goes straight to it, if you type in something else it searches for it. Knowing when to use one and when the other was always one of the most common problems people have so now that’s much easier. You can also now drag a tab out from the window to create a new window. Not crucial but occasionally it can be handy if you want to see two webpages together.

They’ve also made Internet Explorer look a bit different. Normally I’m not a fan of making programs look different just for the sake of it – it means you have to learn things all over again. But I can see why they’ve done this. Internet Explorer used to look a bit cluttered – which distracted from just looking at the webpage you want to read. Now they’ve tidied it up more so as little as possible of the browser is “in the way” – you just see the webpage you’re after.

Some techies who love making things sound complicated call this making a webpage act or look like a “app” (application or program). All they mean is you see less of Internet Explorer and more of the webpage.

The flip side is that some of the buttons that used to be at the top are now hidden in menus at the top right.

There are also some fancy tricks so that some of the buttons can change colour to match the website you’re looking at (big deal!)

Microsoft have also worked hard to make it faster – and they’ve succeeded. It’s a lot faster than the older versions of Internet Explorer (particular for websites with lots of graphics on). In my opinion it’s also a bit faster than Firefox and similar to the latest version of Chrome. Though no doubt when the next versions of Firefox and Chrome come out, they’ll be improved too!

They’ve also cleverly done some work to reduce how much electricity it uses if you’re on a laptop using the battery. Clever stuff but I’m not sure whether it’ll make a noticeable difference.

All in all, I do think it’s an improvement – but not an essential one. If you’re happy with Internet Explorer as it is, don’t feel you must upgrade. I expect in a while your computer will automatically update for you anyway.

And if you’re using Windows XP, yes, you’re missing out, but not on anything too fantastic.

Oops: I forgot to mention where you can download it from if you want to! Just as well I read this back over before sending it. Here’s the web address:

Save money on printer ink

I haven’t tried this trick myself to see how well it works yet, but there’s a video on YouTube that sounds like it could mean you don’t need to replace your printer cartridges as often. It certainly makes sense based on how the cartridges work.

Here’s the link:
Before you get too excited, though, this doesn’t work for all models of printer. Some don’t have a reset button like the one in the video. And on some, just taking the cartridge out of the printer, turning it off and on again and putting it back in will have the same effect.

Worth checking whether it works for your printer though!

Tip from next door

Here’s a tip from Pete:
Here’s a quick tip for when you’re browsing the web. You might already know that you can open links in a new tab by right-clicking on them, and selecting “Open in New Tab” from the menu. But you can also do the same thing faster by clicking on them with the middle mouse button (the wheel – it’s actually a button you can press as well as a wheel). If you’ve got lots of tabs open and want to close one that you’re finished with, you can do that quickly by clicking on the tab at the top bit with the middle mouse button too.

And another author reads this newsletter…

I mentioned Sheila Brook’s new book back at the start of March – and another author reads this newsletter and mentioned his book to me! He’s called Donald Upton and you can read more about his book here:

Well, that’s all for this time. It’s going to be a short month in a way, with so many bank holidays, so I’d better start thinking about what I’m going to write in the next newsletter!

Tim Wakeling

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