Getting Internet Software

Getting Internet software is like borrowing money: It's only difficult when you really need it. If you already have money (or Internet software), getting more is easy. So the trick is getting started.

You see, once you go online, you can search for, find, and download all the software you want, some of it for free, most at least cheap. You'll learn all about downloading software in Chapter 13, "Downloading Programs and Files."


Downloading means copying a file ”through a network ”from another computer to your own. When you get software online, you copy that software from a server somewhere, through the Internet, to your computer and store it on your hard disk.

What Do You Need?

To figure out what Internet software you need to get started, you must begin by looking at what your computer already has. Recall from Chapter 1, "What Is the Internet and What Can You Do There?" that you need two types of software:

  • Communications software, which establishes the connection between your computer and your Internet provider.

  • Client programs for the activities you want to perform through the Net: a Web browser for the Web, an email program for email, a newsreader for newsgroups, and so on.

Table 2.1 shows what software each popular operating system (PC and Mac) includes.

Table 2.1. Required Internet Software Each System Features or Lacks

Computer Type

Operating System

Internet Software Included

You Still Need


Windows 98/NT/2000/ME/XP

Communications software, plus clients for Web browsing, email, newsgroups, and more.



Windows 95

Communications software.

Client software. (A few clients are included, such as email, Telnet, and FTP, but these are not designed as beginner's clients, and no Web browser is included.)


OS8, OS9, OS X

Communications software, plus clients for Web browsing, email, newsgroups, and more.



You needn't feel that you have to get all of your client software right away. At first, all you'll really want or need is your Web browser and an email program.

You won't need client software other than your Web browser and an email program until we get into more advanced topics, like creating your own Web pages. If you want to, you can simply set yourself up for Web browsing now, and forget about all the other software until you need it. You'll learn more about each of the other clients ”including how to get some of the more popular options ”in the chapters in which those clients are introduced.

Where Can You Get It?

The best place to get your start-up Internet software is from your Internet provider (which you learn to select in Chapter 3).

Why? Well, again, once you're online, you can easily acquire any software you want. All you need from your startup software is a way to begin. Whatever your Internet provider offers is usually given free of charge, and may include an easy-to-use setup routine, specially designed for your Internet provider.


You'll often see "free" Internet software offered as a "bonus" by Internet providers and PC sellers, and bound into the backs of computer books. Although this stuff can help you get started, and is therefore worth considering, it's a mistake to think it's as valuable as it's touted to be. Certainly, it's rarely valuable enough to be the main reason you choose a particular provider, PC, or book.

Much of the software you get this way is outdated , or is "trial" software, which you might have to pay for if you use it for longer than a month or two. Often, the trial software has key features removed or disabled, to get you to pay for the full version. And even when the software truly is free, it's almost always stuff you could also download for free, for yourself, from the Web, often in a more up-to-date version.

As an alternative to using the software your provider supplies , you can walk into a software store and buy commercial Internet software right off the shelf. Most prepackaged Internet software is inexpensive ($5 to $50), and often comes with setup programs to conveniently sign you up with one or more Internet providers. Be careful, though, not to pick up a box that is designed to sign you up with one (and only one) Internet provider, unless it happens to be the one you already plan to use.

About the Suites: Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape

In just the past few years , the two major suppliers of Web browsing software ”Microsoft and America Online (Netscape) ”have recognized that it's confusing for Internet users to have to go out and pick separate programs for each Internet activity.


Don't confuse America Online, the online service, with America Online, the company that markets the Netscape browser. It's the same company, but two different enterprises .

The first America Online, or AOL, is a commercial online service that offers Internet access among other activities. If you are an AOL subscriber, you can use either browser ”Netscape or Internet Explorer ”to explore the Web.

A few years ago, America Online, the company, purchased the company named Netscape, and now owns Netscape, the browser. But you can use the Netscape browser with any Internet supplier ”you are not restricted to AOL just because America Online owns Netscape.

Confused yet?

So both Microsoft and America Online (Netscape) have developed "Internet suites," bundles that include a whole family of Internet programs that install together and work together well. Within each suite, you can jump from one program to any other simply by clicking a button or choosing from a menu. For example, you can conveniently jump from cruising the Web to checking your email to opening a newsgroup, all with a few clicks.

Both suites include a Web browser, email program, and newsgroup reader. Both also include a Web authoring tool for creating your own Web pages. You can buy either suite on CD at any software store, or order the CD directly from the developer. You may also be able to get a copy from your Internet provider. And, of course, once you're online, you can download the latest version of either program.

In this book, we've devoted an entire chapter to each of the browsers, plus another chapter devoted solely to the America Online service.

Sams Teach Yourself Internet and Web Basics All in One
Sams Teach Yourself Internet and Web Basics All in One
ISBN: 0672325330
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 350
Authors: Ned Snell © 2008-2017.
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