How's this for some good news: You probably already have Internet Explorer. How do I know? Two reasons. First, if you're running a Windows-based computer, virtually all versions of Windows in recent history came with a version of Explorer included. You may not know you have it, but chances are you do. Second, we did some Web browsing back in Chapter 4, and unless you cheated and were reading without using your computer, you must've been using a browser. Chances were good it was Explorer.
Regardless, the chances are also good that you don't have the latest and greatest version of Explorer. How do I know that? Well, Microsoftlike most software manufacturersis constantly updating its software. These updates often add a new feature, but even more often they fix a little glitch or two that's been found in the works somewhere. Gotta get rid of those gremlins!
So, even if you bought your computer yesterday , and it came with a pre-installed version of Explorer 6.0, Microsoft might have come out with version 6.0.1 or 6.0.2 by now. Heck, depending on when you bought this book, Microsoft might even be on 6.2!
All those little numbers in the version of a software program might not mean that much to you, but they can be important. Let's say you're using version 6.0.1, for example. Any time the first number (in this case, the 6) changes, that means the software has undergone a remake that is fairly significant. Usually, this will mean a new look to the software, its buttons , icons, and so on. The second number reflects changes to the software that might offer improvements or new features, but not changing the basic way it functions. When the third number changes, it usually means that the updated version has fixed some bugs .
So, for example, if you are using Explorer version 5.5 (the last revision before 6.0 came out), you'll notice a new look to the software when you download version 6.0.
Downloading the Latest Version
There's one great way to make sure you the latest version of Explorer: Go to the Microsoft Web site and download the latest version available. It doesn't take long, is easy to accomplish, and guarantees you're up to date.
Chapter 13, "Downloading Programs and Files," gives a more detailed look at downloading. Consider the following tutorial a little preview to that chapter.
So, let's give it a try! Here's how to download and install the latest version of Internet Explorer:
Open your browser and go to the Microsoft Web site at www.microsoft.com. From the menu across the top of the page, click Downloads, and then click Download Center (see Figure 8.1).
Figure 8.1. Step 1: Click on the Download Center link from Microsoft's home page.
Using the pull-down menus on the Download Center page, select the most recent version of Internet Explorer (the one with the highest number) and your operating system. Leave the Show Results For box set at "Most Recent." Click Find It, and the page will display a list of the most recent versions of this software (see Figure 8.2).
Figure 8.2. Step 2: Display the most recent versions of Internet Explorer.
Because Explorer 6.0 wasn't yet released to the public at the time of this writing, you see the word "Beta" in parentheses in the Product Name field in Figure 8.2. This was a public preview version of the software that was available prior to the official launch. You should be aware that "beta" software can be unstable and can cause problems with your computer. By the time you read this, version 6.0 will have been released, so you shouldn't see that word when you download.
Click the link to the latest version of the software that is not a "beta" version. On the screen that appears, select your language (I'm guessing it's English) from the drop-down menu, and click the Download Now button (see Figure 8.3).
Figure 8.3. Step 3: Choose your language and click Download Now.
Click the button to "Run this program from its current location," and then click OK (see Figure 8.4).
Figure 8.4. Step 4: Select "Run this program from its current location."
After a brief download of setup files, a Security Warning appears. Click the Yes button (see Figure 8.5).
Figure 8.5. Step 5: Click the Yes button.
Read the license agreement, click the "I accept the agreement" button, and click Next (see Figure 8.6).
Figure 8.6. Step 6: Accept the license agreement, and click Next.
The program name appears, and you click Next again. The program begins to download and install automatically (see Figure 8.7).
Figure 8.7. Step 7: The program downloads and installs automatically.
When the install is complete, you will be asked to restart your computer. Do so, and you're ready to go!
Depending on the speed of your connection, this download/install can take anywhere from about 15 minutes (on a DSL or cable connection) to more than an hour (on a 56K). Be patient; it's worth the wait.
Starting Up Internet Explorer
Now that you've downloaded the latest version of Explorer and restarted your computer, all that's left is to connect to the Internet, start up Explorer, and off you go.
During the install process, Explorer probably created an icon on your desktop that you can simply double-click to launch the program. If not, just click on the Start button, and choose Internet Explorer from your list of programs.
As discussed in Chapter 4, Explorer opens automatically to its predetermined home page, www.msn.com (see Figure 8.8). You can change that home page to any page you like (covered later in this chapter).
Figure 8.8. Explorer opens automatically to the Microsoft Network's home page.