Different Browsers Explained

     

Different Browsers ExplainedIf I was to pick the most common activity people do with their computers, what would it be? Browsing the web, obviously! Internet has all the knowledge in the world, and you can access it conveniently with your computer. In addition to knowledge, Internet is also a never-ending source for entertainment with streaming services making it easy to watch movies and listen to the music on the go. Also, let’s not forget social media – the place where most people spend a lot of time during their Internet hours. However, for all of this to happen, a person needs a web browser. Pretty much all of them work for an “Average Joe” – however, after years of using the most common browsers, I have started to see some differences in each of them. Here is my take on the subject, hope you enjoy it!

Internet Explorer / Edge

Internet Explorer can be called the grandaddy of browsers. It has been pre-installed in Windows computers for as long as I can remember. Indeed, since Windows 95 users have been able to enjoy this cookie-cutter browser. The tragedy of IE (as it’s shortened) is the substantial drop in market share. In the beginning of 2009, it enjoyed a 65% share of worldwide browser users. However, the same document tells us that eight years later in May 2017, the user base had shrunk to 4%. Even with Microsoft Edge, the successor of IE launched in 2015, the situation does not seem much better. How sad is that?

Pros

Accessibility – Since Windows and Internet Explorer are both made by Microsoft, and Windows is the largest operating system in the world, IE (and later Microsoft Edge) is installed in every copy of Windows and exposed to a huge amount of people. In essence, when you buy a new computer, you don’t need to worry about the browser as IE or Edge is already there. Surprisingly many people don’t want the extra hassle to install more software – like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox – so they go with the first available browser, which in the case of Windows is IE and Edge.

Cons

Compatibility – Older versions of IE, up around the version 8.0 or 9.0, were notorious (and I mean it!) for rendering many websites incorrectly. Elements were out of place, borders appeared in strange spots, font looked funny. Indeed, IE was a pain for web developers to work with. All the other browsers worked fine with websites but it was always IE that required extra work for the site, or even IE-specific hacks for the programmer to implement. However, this situation is much better in the later versions of Internet Explorer, especially in the new Microsoft Edge browser.

Mozilla Firefox

This is the open source browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation. Originally released in the 2002, the Firefox quickly got very popular and reached its peak in the end of 2009 where the share was 32% of all browsers. However, after Google launching its Chrome browser, the popularity of Firefox started to slowly decline. Indeed, the decrease was not a quick process because the browser enjoyed a huge user base and support. Sadly still, in 2017 the share of Firefox stands at a much lower 6%.

Pros

Fast – The original idea of Firefox was to create a compliant, high performing browser for all types of user demographics. The Mozilla community put effort to make the code clean and clutter-free, hence making the browser itself fast to use. I suspect the performance of Mozilla was the main reason that made it so popular – in comparison to Internet Explorer, it really felt much snappier to use!

Helpful community – It is true that all browsers offer support, but I think Mozilla as a non-profit organization fosters a helpful community where users can ask a question and get a fast response.

Cons

Add-ons make it slow – The vanilla Firefox, in my opinion, is quite a fast browser. However, once you start installing add-ons and plugins, the situation changes. The browser becomes quite cluttered with all these extra applications. This will sadly show itself as slower starting times and occasional hang ups. This is in no way exclusive to Firefox as other browsers – including the market leader Chrome – suffer from this problem as well.

Google Chrome

Google, the all-seeing eye, got into browser business in 2008 with their software called Chrome. First, only whispers could be heard about Google’s new browser, but gradually the name “Chrome” popped up in tech conversations also I used to have. The browser had grown from infancy to superiority, with Chrome for Android (smart phones) having a 25% market share of all desktop, laptop and mobile browsers combined in May 2017. Overall, the Chrome browser had a market share of over 50% in the same month. In another words, over half of Internet users are now browsing with Google Chrome!

Pros

Integrated support for Google products – A lot of Google is about making people’s lives as easy and convenient as possible. They are masters of integration, and this feature also reaches their browser. Personally, I sometimes read documents or information on websites on foreign languages, and the Chrome’s built-in translation tool (which is obviously powered by Google Translate) is very useful to have. In addition, if you can not find support for some service of Google, you can be damn sure an add-on or extension exists.

Different Browsers Explained

Cons

Concerns about privacy – Let’s put on our tin foil hats for a while. Google has cleverly infiltrated to our everyday Internet lives: you probably use Gmail, YouTube, Android and Google Maps. In essence, you let Google handle your emails, videos, mobile devices and location services. Now, you also want to use Google Chrome and give the company access to everything you do on your browser? Does the idea make you uncomfortable? Luckily, that’s all it is – an idea. There is no proof Google is collecting data from the users to a secret database and planning to use it against us. However, in theory, this would be possible. If you are really concerned about your privacy it might be in your best interest to use another browser than Chrome.

All the others

While the above three browsers are or were the most popular choices, also other applications exist to keep you glued to Internet. For example, Safari is a web browser mainly known in the Apple world but less used in Windows machines. There is also Opera which, according to some sources, originally used the tabbed browsing feature which has since become a staple in all browsers. Also, let’s not forget text browsers such as Lynx – a way to browse the web from the command line (shell) of UNIX-based systems, such as Linux. The text browsers are only feasible for text, not images, and they show a simplified versions of web sites, so I don’t really recommend them for day to day browsing. If you wanted to try some alternative browser, I would advice checking out Safari if you are on an Apple system.

Now you know my opinion about the different web browsers. Ultimately, it is very hard to single out the best one – it all comes down to your personal preferences. If you are like me, who happened to start decades ago with Mozilla Firefox, chances are you are still using it out of the habit. However, bad habits can be broken, and if you think some other browser is better don’t be afraid to change. Just heed my advice, you might have problems showing modern websites with Internet Explorer – especially the older versions. For this reason, I recommend going for Firefox or Chrome. The difference between the two is not huge, so pick whichever feels more comfortable for you to use!

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