Chris J Powell

Geeking Out with Browsers

For most of us, the Web Browser is nothing more than a utility to check our Facebook, browse websites, even check our email and connect with friends and family.

In the nearly 20 years that I have actively been involved with this great big world that is the Interwebz I have seen more than my fair share of browsers come and go.  The past few years has seen me tied pretty tightly with Google Chrome, both as a browser on all computers that I work with and as the Operating System of my rock solid little Chromebook.

To give a bit of a run down, there are several “common” browsers out there:

Internet Explorer – IE

When it comes to the most commonly used web browser, look no further than the venerable Internet Explorer from Microsoft.  Directly tied to their Windows Operating System, IE has been used by most who head out to the Internet in search of deals, information or love (a bit of a throw back to Valentines day on Sunday).

Back in 2003, Internet Explorer had an amazing 93% market share when it came to what people used to get out there and on the old Interwebz.  Since then though, the competition has heated up with round after round of “Browser Wars” eroding the dominance of this institution of surfing.

Many factors have lead to the demise and now replacement of IE by Microsoft, but for me, I so rarely used this browser myself, I can’t really say that I will miss it much especially as it is now being phased out of existence (see Internet Explorer End of Support).

Google Chrome

For much of the past 7 years since Google released its own Web Browser back in 2008, I have personally been using Google Chrome as my default browser both at home, on my smart-phone and at work (when ever possible).

The amount that I personally use Google Services (from Gmail to Google Drive, Picasa and Google Play Store) I find it hard to imagine what my overall internet experience would be like without the addition of Google and the Chrome Browser to support my hunt and peck method of web surfing.

What I like most about Google Chrome is that unlike Internet Explorer for much of its existence, it is built around the concept of Web Standards…meaning that when a website is built to the Internet Standards…it displays just as it was designed!  That has made life easy for me both as a budding amateur developer…but also made my life as a prudent and avid browser of information consistent!

Mozilla Firefox

After the demise of my beloved Netscape Communicator back in 2002, I could not bring myself to start using Internet Explorer and to the rescue came the Mozilla Foundation and its original release of Firefox.

Firefox was with me during my move from Windows to Linux and back again.  It has been like an old friend that is always there for you, connecting to the internet even back when all I could get was Dial-up Service.

There have been several revisions of this great browser that I have used (depending on several factors).  Ice Dove was a Linux based version and I even dabbled around with SeaMonkey when I had felt the pang of missing Netscape Communicator as an all-in-one web solution.

While Firefox has been mostly replaced with Google Chrome now…I still jump back over every once in a while…for old times sake.

Opera

At the same time as I was diving into the Internet with an anything BUT Internet Explorer philosophy, the Opera Browser filled a substantial gap in what was to be a battle for my attention.

Around since the very beginning of the modern internet, the Opera Browser started its life a little differently.  It was neither Open Source nor freely included with an Operating System.  You could download it free, but had to deal with an advertising banner across the top unless you accessed the paid version of the browser.

Now moving away from this model of trialware, the Opera Browser to me is an object of what could have been, but never was.  It is always among my 1st 10 downloads when I do an Operating Refresh but has never been my Daily Driver when it comes to web surfing.

Apple Safari

In the heart of the early 2000’s browser wars, Apple released its own browser for it Mac OS called Safari way back in 2003.  Not being an Apple “Fan Boy” (and some may even call me a hater), I never really got behind the whole concept of this browser.

The Windows version was not quite all there and during the decade that I was Linux only…there was not a real option for me to test it or get into using it much but in the rare occasion that I wanted to give it a whirl, I found the browser to be capable if not a little light on features.

The New Batch (aka the New Kids on the Block)

Recently I decided to take a quick look for some alternatives to the bigger players, and as I was doing some development work on the side, I figured it was best to take a long look at how my work was being rendered out there in the wild!  I have included the download links if you would like to try your hand at thinking outside of the box.

  •  Dooble  – Light, but maybe too light, but does have an impressive list of plugins
  • U Browser  – Based on the open-source Chromium version of Chrome
  • BlackHawk  – The Love Child of Firefox and Chrome bring the best of both
  • Browzar – All about Privacy, it doesn’t save cookies, passwords or cache
  • Wyzo – Media Browser that uses Mozilla Plugins but it seems to be missing something
  • Avant – Ad Free, with a Download “Accelerator”…but I still remember when it was based on IE
  • Midori – Light weight, fast and easy to use, this is the no-frills browsing experience

Surfing the web should be a very personal experience.  There are tons of options to make the experience all about you.  Experiment, try things out…but as always…be careful out there.

Cheers,

Chris J Powell

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