Internet Explorer is commonly refered to as the browser that comes with Windows that you use to download another browser.
I have used Internet Explorer as my default browser from 2001 to 2008 when my computer was infected for good. I even stuck with version 6 by the end of it, even though version 8 beta was released. I was 5 years behind in browser technology! I fought for this browser, and even designed this site for Internet Explorer, dealing with the many quirks and workarounds for lack of alpha-transparent PNG image support.
Internet Explorer is still the most common default Web browser, but with competitors catching up very quickly. It is still necessary to design Web sites for IE, but just as important to make use of the open standards that only now IE8 finally supports.
The browser's strengths are its flaws. It is built right into the Windows operating system, using the system's own files, therefore making the browser load fast. This, however, makes the whole Windows operating system open and vulnerable to any security holes found in the browser. I thought I would be safe as long as I visited safe Web sites. That helped a lot, but it wasn't 100% protection.
The latest versions - 7 and 8 beta - have better security like built in anti-phishing tools, and updates are common to keep security holes patched. Version 8 has full support for 2.1, but some things must be coded specifically for the browser like opacity on alpha-transparent PNG images.
Incase you are a Web designer use this:
Internet Explorer 8 was released on April 1, 2009. There was a lot of criticism about the release because it has yet to support CSS3. Microsoft claims that it follows standards with the new version, and this includes the decision to not support codes until they are official standards. Though other modern browsers are already these CSS3 codes in advance of them becoming official and finalized.
This decision by Microsoft bothers me as well. Microsoft should include support for these soon-to-be official standards now rather than wait. People on Internet Explorer are very slow to upgrade their browsers, so when these standards become official, their users will be the last to take advantage of them.
Since version 7, the menu has been simplified and tab-based browsing has been added. Without some great hacking skills, Internet Explorer is a built-in requirement of Windows. It is probably a good idea to have an updated version, even if you don't wish to have it set as your default browser.