What software are you using for browsing the Internet? What version? How old is it? Is it secure? DO YOU CARE?

Yes, you do. Or you need to. And yesterday Yahoo! showed me why.

Browser updates are one of those computer issues that keep on coming up, but shouldn’t. I may hate Apple, but they handle this the right way; when Mac OS downloads system updates it also updates your Safari web browser software. You don’t need to know or do anything. Microsoft has recently begun sneaking browser updates for Internet Explorer into Windows system updates, but the process is slightly clumsier and it seems like whenever Internet Explorer updates the changes are dramatic enough that you can’t help but notice them—and likely be confused.

But update your browser you must, and quickly. Google has recently announced that they will only support the two most recent major versions of each browser for use with Google Apps and Google Docs, so for example, if you use Firefox you’re about to have to choose between the about-to-be-released version 5, and the just-came-out-a-few-months-ago version 4. Version 3.5 of Firefox, just a year old, is about to become unsupported. BY GOOGLE.

And Google isn’t alone. The latest version of WordPress gets in your face if you open it using a dated browser.

Yahoo Firefox3 Browser Software Check

This is a page I visited yesterday. Look at the web page address. When I clicked on the link that brought me to that page, the server at Yahoo! that served me the page was smart enough to check out what browser I was using, and feed me a version formatted specifically for my browser.

That’s cool for the user. Yahoo! has decided that showing everyone a version of the pages they serve up that’s formatted to look as great as possible is a good idea. But they can’t do that for every version of every browser. And that means that they’ll have to decide between showing people with older browsers non-customized versions that might look bad (and so make them look bad), or locking out people with old browser versions.

So guess what that means is about to start happening.

This is a great thing from where I sit as a technology, business process, and computer consultant. When we develop new or update older web sites our clients sometimes have issues accounting for the browser software their guests use when visiting, and if Google, Yahoo!, and WordPress are all saying “TWO VERSIONS”, well, so can I. But that’s good for me. Unless you get the process of managing your internet browser software under control, it’s going to become a very bad thing, for you.

Business Process Matters.

I was half-kidding when I told you that the reason you need a computer consultant is to handle Craigslist Pornography. But Computers Are Hard. And if you aren’t going to manage the business processes surrounding simple ideas like keeping your browser software up to date, then you need to hire The Computer Answer Guy or PC-VIP to handle the process for you.

And we’re only discussing functional browser issues. Your browser is also the single greatest threat to your security and largest source of viruses and malware. Keeping your browser software up-to-date is a big step in defending against those.

You can do nothing, of course, but if you do, you’re about to start getting refused entry to lots of place all over the Internet. I promise, that’s not the right plan.

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