Google has dropped support for Internet Explorer 8, and they aren’t the only organization to do so. While you can’t use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 without upgrading to a newer version of Windows, there are a variety of modern browsers that still support Windows XP.
Let’s be honest – IE 8 isn’t much better than Internet Explorer 6. Even Internet Explorer 9 offers much better support for HTML5 and other modern technologies. These modern browsers make web designers’ lives easier and give you access to a more modern Internet.
Note that many of these browsers may require the free Service Pack 3 (or at least Service Pack 2), which is available from Microsoft’s website and Windows Update.
Google Chrome’s latest versions continue to support Windows XP – Google offers more support for older versions of Microsoft’s operating systems that Microsoft themselves do. Using Google Chrome on Windows XP is much the same experience as using it on a newer version of Windows, although the window borders are solid-colored and not transparent. Don’t worry, though – you can install themes if you prefer another look.
If you still depend on some Internet Explorer-only websites, you can use IE Tab for Google Chrome to run Internet Explorer inside Google Chrome for those websites.
For more information about Chrome, check out Browsing at Warp Speed, our free downloadable guide to Chrome.
The latest versions of Mozilla Firefox continue to run on Windows XP, too. As with Google Chrome, you’ll get a modern web browser that will continue to receive updates. Firefox on Windows XP still uses the classic File/Edit/View menu bar instead of the single Firefox menu button you’ll find on newer versions of Windows.
Just as with Google Chrome, you can install the IE Tab extension for Firefox and continue to use some IE-only websites inside your new web browser.
For more information about Firefox, download Tackling Firefox: The Unofficial Manual, our free guide to Firefox.
Opera isn’t quite as popular as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, but it’s still a good option that also continues to support Windows XP. Opera has always been a fairly speedy browser, which may come in handy if you’re using Windows XP on an older, slower computer. You may want to try all of the above browsers and see which one performs better for you.
Unfortunately, Opera doesn’t offer an “IE Tab”-style extension that can run IE-only websites in a browser tab. if you settle on Opera, you’ll want to launch Internet Explorer 8 whenever you need to use an IE-only website.
If you absolutely must continue to use Internet Explorer 8, but still need access to Google Apps or other modern websites, you may want to install the Chrome Frame plug-in for Internet Explorer. Websites that are configured to take advantage of Google Chrome Frame – such as Google’s own websites – will use the Chrome Frame plug-in to render the website in Chrome’s rendering engine inside Internet Explorer. This allows you to use Internet Explorer but access websites that need newer web technologies.
This isn’t a very good solution unless you only need access to Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, and other Google Apps websites. Many websites may require modern browser technologies, but may not automatically use Google Chrome Frame. You may be better off using two different browsers – one (such as Chrome, Firefox, or Opera) for the majority of the web and one for older websites that only work in Internet Explorer.)
Avant or Maxthon
You may also want to give Avant Browser a try. The Ultimate version of Avant includes the Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome rendering engines. With the click of a button, you can change any web page’s rendering engine to the one that works best. If you want to use some websites in Internet Explorer mode, and some in Firefox or Chrome modes, Avant browser may be worth a try. We’ve previously covered Avant Browser in-depth.
Note that you should download the Ultimate version of Avant so you can have access to the other rendering engines – the Lite version of Avant only includes the IE rendering engine. Avant (and the Maxthon browser mentioned below will use the version of IE on your computer. In other words, if you install Avant Lite on Windows XP, it will just be a shell on top of Internet Explorer 8. All the problems with Internet Explorer 8’s outdated rendering engine will still be present.
Maxthon is a similar browser that incorporates the Internet Explorer and WebKit (used in Chrome and Safari) browser engines with its own interface. It also runs on Windows XP. We’ve recently taken an in-depth look at the new Maxthon Cloud Browser.
While version 5.1.7 of Apple’s Safari is also available for Windows XP, Apple is no longer updating Safari for Windows and is instead focusing on Safari for Mac OS X, so we wouldn’t recommend using Safari on Windows.
Are you still using Windows XP? What browser do you use? Let us know which one works best for you!