Internet ExplorerThe big news making rounds on the Internet today is that the German government has warned web users to find an alternative browser to Internet Explorer to protect security. This warning comes after Microsoft admitted that it was IE’s vulnerability that enabled the recent attacks on Google’s systems.

The statement issued by the German Federal Office for Security in Information Technology further says users may may resume using Explorer after a fix is issued by Microsoft.  But that may take sometime from what I can see. So why should you deliberately expose your PC to security threats when we have other browsers around? The process of installing Mozilla FirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari or Opera will take you just a few minutes.

Although Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) is still the world’s most popular browser, it is important to understand that the dominance that it is used to enjoy some years ago is diminishing little by little. According to Mashable, IE had over 90 percent of the browser market in 2004. By May 2009, IE’s share is closer to 66 percent, while Firefox has broken 20% of the market share.

These security vulnerabilities are not helping IE at all. It will be interesting to see the effect of the announcement by the German government on the browser market share.

Update 1: France and Australia have echoed calls by Germany for web users to find an alternative to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) to protect security. In light of these developments, Norway-based Opera is reporting that downloads of its rival web browser have doubled in Germany over the weekend.

Meanwhile, it looks like Microsoft, who generally release security updates on the second Tuesday of every month, will will be forced to release an out-of-cycle IE security patch. They have just announced that they will issue an emergency patch.

Update 2: : Mozilla has also reported a huge increase in the number of Firefox downloads from IE users in Germany in the past few days.