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By Susan Bradley/Windows Secrets Newsletter
With the exception of Internet Explorer, updating to your browser’s latest version is usually a given.
For Vista and Win7 users, upgrading to IE 9 requires a bit more consideration and planning than updating Firefox or Chrome — but the time has come.
As a member of the Center for Internet Security (info page), I participate in that organization’s online security discussions. Recently, one of the participants asked whether you should always update to the latest version of Internet Explorer that your workstations support. The consensus was “yes.” IE 9, for example, adds major security enhancements for Windows 7. Vista also benefits from IE 9. (Unfortunately, Windows XP users are out of luck.)
Regular Patch Watch readers know that I recommended skipping IE 9 for the moment. Now I recommend giving it a try. Most Vista and Win7 users will see it offered in Windows Update, but you can also download (page) it directly from Microsoft. If you check the install box in Windows Update, you should see a box similar to the one shown in Figure 1, which gives you a second chance to approve or prevent IE 9′s installation.
Figure 1. An IE 9 installation dialog box lets you continue updating to IE 9 or keep your current version.
Installing IE 9 includes additional updates
Unlike updates for Firefox and Chrome, moving to IE 9 requires your full attention — you’ll want to close all other applications during the installation process.
Once IE 9′s up and running, it’s time to install all the additional updates I previously said to pass on:
First up is KB 2488113, which fixes a problem you might see when IE 9 is used with Direct2D or Direct3D — software that speeds up graphics rendering on your computer.
Also install KB 2506928 — it patches a flaw in which links in Outlook-based HTML files fail to open.
Finally, there’s KB 2530548 for Internet Explorer 9′s built-in download manager (part of a package of IE security updates released on June’s Patch Tuesday). If you use any third-party download tools, you should also update to their latest versions. For example, Microsoft Support article KB 2561716 describes how a third-party tool called Internet Download Manager (not to be confused with the app included with IE 9) may cause the browser to stop responding.
Fine-tuning IE 9 graphics performance
If it can, IE 9 will use your graphics card to speed up screen rendering. You can check that capability by clicking IE 9′s Gear (Tools) icon and selecting Internet Options. Go to the Advanced tab and check the first option: Accelerated graphics/Use software rendering instead of GPU rendering.
This option will be grayed out if your card doesn’t support IE 9 hardware acceleration. If it’s not grayed out, look at the option carefully — when checked, hardware acceleration is not enabled. (As shown in Figure 2.)
Figure 2. When the IE 9 graphics-acceleration box is checked (circled in yellow), you’re not using your graphics hardware.
This post is excerpted with permission from Windows Secrets.