Do I need to upgrade to IE7/8 if I don't browse with IE?
March 19, 2009 5:29 AM   Subscribe

I just reformatted an XP laptop and installed Service Pack 3. I don't use Internet Explorer for browsing - do I need to upgrade to IE7/8 anyway, just for in-built security? Or can I safely leave it at 6 if I don't use it to browse? Apologies if this question seems really, really dumb.
posted by ravcasleygera to Technology (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For the most part, you shouldn't need to upgrade to IE7/8. However, you may need to keep a lookout for links within applications - many Windows apps seem to fire off Internet links to IE irrespective of your default browser. I'm pretty sure security fixes to the rest of the OS don't rely on updates to IE.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 5:36 AM on March 19, 2009

There are some major security issues involving IE6, and as Le morte has pointed out many apps will load IE no matter what your preferences are set to. There is even a campaign to get rid of IE 6. It really is in your best interest to upgrade IE from a security standpoint.
posted by ptm at 5:40 AM on March 19, 2009

you also may be using apps that have IE embedded in them - if your current version is IE6, then that's what will be used.

so, another recommendation for upgrading regardless
posted by askmehow at 5:46 AM on March 19, 2009

If you use IE6 you may come across some Overly Judgmental IE6 Splash Pages.
posted by sharkfu at 5:48 AM on March 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

At worst, installing an updated IE wastes a few minutes of your time. At best, it protects you from that time your hapless friend asks to use your laptop to check his e-mail and decides to browse around and expose you to all sorts of old browser exploits.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:06 AM on March 19, 2009

IE7 is slightly less horrid than 6. I can think of no good reason to keep 6.
posted by flabdablet's sock puppet at 6:22 AM on March 19, 2009

Install Internet Explorer 7. It's at least marginally (ha!) more CSS-compliant than Internet Explorer 6. Browser share for IE6 is around 18% at this point. One must go through extra steps to make a site look good on IE6, and, at the rate things are going, I imagine designers are, in a year if they are not doing so already, going to start shrugging and ignoring little bits of their site design that do not quite work in IE6.

And in terms of security, IE7 is getting more love and attention than IE6 is right now. And Vundo loves an unpatched IE. Oh yes.
posted by adipocere at 6:26 AM on March 19, 2009

I was in the same boat, and kept IE updated because many times, I have not been able to update and install the SP's without the latest IE versions. But that is all I ever used it for. . . .to keep the system updated.
posted by Danf at 6:48 AM on March 19, 2009

You should absolutely install IE7. Windows is tied directly to IE and IE6 is much less secure. Not to mention lots of third-party applications will use IE in the background or in a window without it being obvious its doing so. You want them to use the binaries from IE7 not 6. Considering its free and takes all of 10 minutes to install, theres no real excuse not to.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:51 AM on March 19, 2009

If you manually run Windows Update ever then it will launch IE.

That's about the only time I ever use it... still, I upgraded to IE7 just in the off case that it is used elsewhere.
posted by wfrgms at 6:55 AM on March 19, 2009

Do you need to? No. Should you? Why not? Unless you're on 28.8K dialup, I don't see what you have to lose.
posted by wsp at 7:13 AM on March 19, 2009

You might as well install IE8 though, considering that it's being released in 1 hour.
posted by helios at 8:49 AM on March 19, 2009

I'm only keeping IE6 on one of my machines because one of my clients still uses it. If I didn't need it for development, I would DTBA.
posted by maudlin at 9:29 AM on March 19, 2009

Not a dumb question at all.

You should update. A great number of applications use IE to display content, although you wouldn't know it by looking because they disguise IE inside their application. Help pages and documentation is one of the primary uses, though there are plenty of other uses. There's no way to stop most of these applications from using IE.

And make sure you're applying any security updates for IE that Windows prompts your for.
posted by Ookseer at 12:08 PM on March 19, 2009

Yes, update. There are jerks who spend all their working days trying to figure out how to bust into your machine. Keeping old, crappy, unpatched software around makes their job easier even if you aren't knowingly using it.
posted by chairface at 11:13 PM on March 20, 2009

Response by poster: OK, thanks everyone. I answer to the question "why not," well, it's an old laptop, and i always feel any hundred-meg upgrade has to have a performance cost somewhere (cf Adobe Reader). But it's clearly worth doing, so upgrade it is.

posted by ravcasleygera at 4:44 AM on March 23, 2009

The installer is 14 megs and really just replaces the IE6 binaries. I didnt notice any performance issues with a large IE6 to IE7 roll out I did over a year ago and we had some pretty old computers. In fact, the rendering engine is faster with IE7. Adobe Reader is a hog, IE really isnt.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:44 AM on March 23, 2009

Adobe Reader is hoggier than a really hoggy thing. SumatraPDF isn't itself hoggy, though it creates very hoggy print files. Foxit Reader 2.3 is pretty sweet (I like it better than 3.0, so grab it while it's going).
posted by flabdablet's sock puppet at 8:26 PM on March 23, 2009

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