A couple weeks ago I decided to install the brand new Internet Explorer 9 on my computer. I don't know why. I was very busy at the time, but for some strange reason I decided to do the upgrade from Internet Explorer 8 to version 9. I think I had read about some new feature that sounded great, perhaps tear off tabs, but I don't really recall. It only took me about 20 minutes to decide that I hated Internet Explorer 9. For whatever reasons Microsoft had made some really hideous UI decisions. In particular the tabs weren't attached to the pages – tabs were now up above the toolbars, which makes no sense at all. Also, they had gotten rid of the little drop-down arrow next to the back button which formerly displayed recent history – a feature which I use all the time. They had moved around the address bar and menu bars, and removed several of the customization options that would have let me put them back where I wanted them. I spent about an hour searching online for information on how to fix IE9, then gave up and uninstalled it.
At least, that should be what happened. In reality I spent the next hour trying to uninstall IE9 and get IE8 back again. Since Internet Explorer is a system component, to remove it you choose the "Turn windows features on or off" tool, not the standard uninstaller under “Programs and Features” in the control panel. When you uncheck the checkbox next to “ IE9,” it tells you that it is removing it, (which “could take several minutes,”) and then it cranks away, and then you reboot. Presto, IE9 is gone. But not only is IE9 gone, there is no Internet Explorer at all. If you go back to "Turn windows features on or off", it shows IE9 with an empty checkbox -- no mention of IE8.
So I surfed to Microsoft.com to download IE8. But guess what, you can't get IE8 for Windows 7 from Microsoft.com! Every version of IE8 says that it isn’t compatible with Win7 when you try to install it! On Microsoft’s IE8 download page there is no explanation of why there isn't a Windows 7 version (though there is a reason.) So, I went back to my original installation disks, and tried to find it there. But it's been a long time since I attempted to navigate my way around a Windows installation DVD, and a lot of things have changed, so I didn't find it.
Finally I figured out the secret to getting IE8 back: What you have to do is click on "View Installed Updates" INSTEAD of "Turn windows features on or off". This will allow you to fully remove the IE9, which is an "installed update." (Then reboot -- again!) Now when you go to “Programs and Features” and click "Turn windows features on or off" it will show IE8 with and empty check box. Clicking that box turns IE8 on (and reboot -- again!) The reason Microsoft.com doesn’t have a version of IE8 for Windows 7 is that IE8 never really goes away – you don’t need to ever re-download it. However, would it have killed them to put in a paragraph of text explaining this and describing how to find it after IE9 shrouds it? The ONLY good thing is that when I was all done, IE8 was back the way I left it with all my favorites, toolbars, etc.
Anyway, I went back to using IE8 for the last couple of months, but web sites seem to be loading more and more slowly, and some weird things have been happening in the layout of menu and toolbars, and then the other day IE8 started blocking access to Google image searches (apparently to block cross-site scripting which can be a security breach.) Today I abandoned Internet Explorer and moved to FireFox. I have no idea why Microsoft is working so hard to drive away customers. But that is the subject of another blog…