Posts Tagged ‘ ie ’

The Browser Wars: Firefox/Internet Explorer/Safari/Chrome/Opera


Browsers are a part of virtually every computer user’s life, whether to read up on news, check email, or do anything else. With the new arrival of what people are calling Web 2.0, which includes intricate online games and social networking sites like Facebook, browsers have become even more important than ever. A couple of years ago most people didn’t know what they even had a choice, and always used Internet Explorer, which was hard-coded into operating systems like Windows XP and Vista. As of late, a lot of people have been open to the idea of using other browsers, thanks to a lot of advertising for browsers like Firefox and Chrome as well as a fight between Microsoft and the European Union for antitrust issues. Ever since, people have been comparing their choices, sometimes with invalid statements. This post is all about to clear that it, although the final decision is still your own opinion.

Even though these “browser wars” started to be significant as of late, it has already been around for a very long time. In fact, there have been a lot of browsers most people don’t even remember. But memorable browser wars began with early versions of Internet Explorer and Netscape. As you have probably noticed, Internet Explorer grew in popularity, and Netscape eventually became extinct and is no longer supported. Internet Explorer then had a period where there were no major contenders. Then, in 2004, Firefox emerged, who has slowly and steady gained ground over Internet Explorer. In addition with Opera, the porting of Safari to Windows, and Google coming out with their Chrome browser, today’s browser market has become a big mixing pot with many high-quality, major contenders. Current standing show declining numbers for Internet Explorer, while virtually all other browsers are gaining users. The current top browser, Firefox, has toppled the crown that IE held for such a long time. Let’s see why these changes are happening.

Firefox, the current top browser, has gained it’s major popularity because of many different aspects that made it appealing to all users, especially IE users. Of all things, Firefox is a completely open source browser and is based on the Gecko engine, which gives way to a number of other opportunities. Since Firefox is open source, people can download it without any problems, completely free. Also, this points us to next perspective, security. Firefox has a reputation for being a secure browser. This is again thanks to it’s open source nature, where anyone can find security flaws and other bugs and report them so that they can be fixed, instead of a set of developers finding their own bugs without any public assistance. Firefox actually has to thank IE for part of its userbase as Firefox was a replacement option during times where extremely dangerous IE security flaws were found but not yet fixed. Firefox also as a mature extension system, which enables the use of popular add-ons such as Adblock Plus. Firefox is also appealing due to features such as Private Browsing, the Awesome Bar, and a very high Acid3 test score. Finally, Firefox is available on all major operating systems, and is automatically installed in almost all Linux distributions. There is also a variation of Firefox that is being made for mobile devices. It is definitely a great browser for anyone.

Internet Explorer has been a popular browser for a long time, based on the Trident engine. Back in the day, websites were made to appear the best in IE instead of staying with web standards. However, other than websites that work better on IE and a known user interface, the list of advantages for IE runs short. IE has turned into a big resource-hogging monster, flawed with security holes, and has been forced up in Windows up to and including Vista. Windows 7 has finally changed this, but it further promotes other browsers. IE has no built-in system for addons and scores poorly on the Acid3 test. IE is the only browser that supports ActiveX controls, which have been known to compromise system security, and is for Windows only.

Safari is a fairly good browser by Apple, and is automatically shipped with Mac OS X, although it has also been ported to Windows. It is based on the WebKit engine, which gets a perfect score on the Acid3 test. It offers a number of features, such as a panel with the most visited websites when Safari is opened. It also has Private Browsing and a few other features in browsers like Firefox. However, for whatever reasons, there have been a few features stripped in the Windows version of Safari, and therefore is less appealing to the Windows user.

Chrome, which is also based on the WebKit engine, is made by Google. Along with it’s large marketing push to create a browser, an operating system for mobile phones, and eventually an operating system for netbooks as well as a few other products and services, Chrome is supposed to be Google’s vision of what a browser should be. Some of it’s most characteristic features include it’s V8 JavaScript engine, which makes page loading very fast. It also has a security model that separates tabs into their own processes, so that if one tab crashes, the browser along with the rest of the tabs stay alive. As of the latest versions, Google is trying to incorporate an extension system into Chrome, although it isn’t very mature compared to the extension system in Firefox. One of Google’s main focuses is to keep the user interface as small as possible to give as much room as possible to the displaying of the website. Chrome, that is also open source, has received massive amounts of bug fixes and new features in a short time span, which shows great improvement, but also skepticism about what else may still need fixing. In the short amount of time it has existed, Chrome has gained a couple percent of users, and is still growing. Chrome is available for Windows and just recently for Mac, with development releases available for Linux.

Opera, last but not least, is a very innovative browser. Based on the Presto engine, it has continually kept a small amount of users compared to other browsers. However, it has invented a number of innovative features, such as mouse gestures and Opera Turbo, which compresses images and other objects to speed up load time. However, it has a somewhat bulky user interface, and is not exactly as easy to use and configure and IE and Firefox. Opera is available for all major operating systems, as well as on certain mobile platforms.

So, in conclusion, each browser has its own set of features and focuses to please a wide range of people. These competitions between browsers give users choice, something that will never go away. For the average Internet user, I would recommend Firefox because of it’s ease of use and customization. Also, it is extremely secure, and will always be up-to-date. Or better yet, rethink the browser that you’re using and come to your own decisions.

I’d like to hear what browser you use! Leave me a comment saying what browser you use, and why you support it!

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