If you are using Internet Explorer (IE) I'd recommend giving any other browser a try. IE lags significantly behind the other major browsers in adapting new standards, and resultingly web developers have to stick to old, "IE-safe" standards or spend extra time trying workarounds to make features from newer standards work correctly in IE. In other words, if IE appears to work well for you it is thanks to the work of independent web developers, not Microsoft. By choosing a different browser not only should you be getting a more streamlined browsing experience yourself, you'd also be helping to improve development of the Internet.
This website was tested in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera. Internet Explorer (IE) stood out and not in a good way. During construction the site was previewed in Firefox, and when it came to the point of checking cross-browser compatibility things overall looked and worked fine in all browsers except IE. Making the website tolerable to IE involved changing the media player, trying different workarounds/hacks from other developers and in the end simply giving up on making some details work in IE. And though it is not as serious of an issue, IE also stood out as the slowest and clumsiest browser. You might suspect this rant to be somewhat biased against Microsoft, and perhaps it is. I'll point to a couple of sources to support my case though.
One is Wikipedia's browser comparison page. Take a look at the Acid test results. Quote: "The Acid tests are online test suites to determine aspects of standards compliance, to expose web page rendering flaws, and to rate the performance of browsers." The score for IE 8 is 20/100 points. To put that in perspective, Firefox gets 94/100 and Chrome, Safari and Opera all score 100/100. The good news is that the upcoming IE 9 is a much better browser, catching up with a score of 95/100. The bad news is that the release of IE 9 won't make the problem go away. There will still be a lot of IE 8 users out there, not least because IE 9 will not be available for Windows XP which is still the most used operating system (see here). Correspondingly, serious developers will still have to cope with the imcapabilities of IE 8 for some time to come. Another problem is that IE 9 may seem to largely catch up for now, but it is going to fall behind. At the time of its release IE 9 will already have inferior support of the new CSS3 and HTML5 standards (e.g. see HTML5 test results here), and then consider that we are not likely to see a new version of IE for another 2 years (IE 7 was released October 2006, IE 8 in March 2009). By the time we see IE 10, IE 9 may well look just as outdated as IE 8 does today. Speed isn't much of a problem compared to compatibility. Mostly it is connection speed and not browser speed that ends up keeping people waiting. But in case you were wondering, the picture is about the same: IE 8 is significantly behind the competition with IE 9 catching up somewhat - temporarily. I tried running a browser benchmark called PeaceKeeper to see for myself, you can see the test scores here.
In summary, Microsoft has managed to make the worst browser on the market the most "popular" (that is, the most used) simply by including it with Windows, making it the default choice on 90% of computers. Perhaps the design behind IE is so basically flawed that it is impossible for Microsoft to keep up with the development, or perhaps they feel so comfortable about their market position that they think the Internet should adapt to IE and not the other way around. Whether it is a calculated choice from Microsoft or not, the latter is essentially what is happening. Website developers are left with the ungrateful task of making the Internet compatible with the out-of-date browser that Microsoft has supplied the world with, and it is thanks to their work that the average IE user can browse the web without frequently running into issues. Fortunately IE's market share is dropping steadily, and given that other browsers will continue to outperform IE by a comfortable margin in the foreseeable future, this will continue to be the case. This is good because Microsoft will be forced to improve IE dramatically or else developer support will decrease along with user statistics which will in turn reveal more and more problems with IE and drive even more users away. Whether Microsoft steps up or IE becomes a minority browser, it will improve the Internet either way. And you can help the development by choosing a browser that supports current and upcoming standards. Anything but Internet Explorer will do.