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Internet software

Internet software

Internet software helps your business make the most of the internet. It includes software to view websites, use email, send and receive instant messages and more.

The concept of internet software has changed considerably in recent years. With internet-features incorporated into many different applications, plus the emergence of cloud computing – which moves the software itself onto the internet - you could class almost anything as internet software.

However, this article focuses on web browsing, email and communication tools. If you’re looking for software to help you build websites, read our article about web design software instead.

Internet browser software

There are many types of internet browser software available. They all allow you to view and interact with websites.

Most computers come with internet browser software installed as standard. However, although all web browsers work in similar ways, it is worth exploring alternatives for these reasons:

  • Speed. The time it takes to load up different browsers and actually display web pages in them can differ hugely. If your web browser sometimes feels sluggish, it may be a good idea to try a different option.
  • Features. Different internet browser software offers different features. For instance, some will let you save web pages as a single image, or allow you to install extensions which add extra functions.
  • Security. Because web browsers are very common, they tend to get targeted by hackers looking for security holes. Some browsers are considered more secure than others.

Software for internet browsing tends to be free and available for all the main operating systems. The most popular options are Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla’s Firefox, Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari.

As software companies see the web browser as your gateway to the internet, this is a competitive, cutthroat market. Browsers are updated and improved regularly, so it is worth re-evaluating your choice every few months.

Internet software for email

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Email is an essential form of business communication. It makes it easy for people in your business to keep in touch with each other and with people outside your company. You’ll probably need to provide email software for all your staff.

Many office suites include email software as standard. These fully-featured packages often include other useful functions like task lists and shared calendars – the most popular package is Microsoft Office. Lots of cheap and free email software is available too.

If you outsource your email system, email software may come included. Alternatively, some email services are accessed directly through a web browser. This is called webmail and means you don’t need to install extra software at all.

Common, free webmail services include Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo Mail.

Other internet software

Make sure you have good software for internet security – including a firewall and anti-spyware program - on every computer in your business. These are often available as part of a security suite, available from companies like McAfee, Symantec, AVG or Kaspersky.

The following types of internet software also have the potential to save you time or money – or make you more productive:

  • Instant messaging (IM) software allows people in your business to communicate via online chat or videoconferencing.
  • Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) programs may enable you to cut telephone costs by routing phone calls over the internet.
  • An RSS reader lets you keep track of regularly updated websites and news stories in one place, without having to visit lots of websites.

Managing internet software

If your business relies on internet access to operate effectively, you should ensure you provide good support. To make this easier, you’ll probably want to standardise the internet software your company uses.

Remember too that internet software gives your employees access to many websites and content you might consider unsuitable for the workplace. Create an IT policy covering acceptable internet use.

New versions of software for internet use are released frequently. This is partly due to the ever-changing nature of the web, but also because security issues can be serious with internet software. It’s therefore important you perform regular IT maintenance and stay on top of any updates.

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You might also be interested in the resources in our sections on the internet and cloud computing.