Chris J Powell

Browser Wars….who is winning the hearts and minds for internet usage?

Yesterday I posted some statistics from w3schools.org that had Firefox well in the lead in the ever heated battle for the “market share” on the internet.  There are 5 big players out their, all trying to be the top dog and win us over, for my visitors since my first post in lat April the statistics are pretty similar to the listings available from Wikipedia and Netmarketshare.com these stats are relatively accurate.

For me though my life is split equally between 3 browsers and each are because of restrictions in my life but I will get into that momentarily.  Today we will look at the top 5 browsers in the market and identify what is so good about each (and what is not so good)!  The rules will include looking at the most up to date version of each browser so we will be looking at Internet Explorer 9, Firefox 4.0.1, Chrome 12.0.742.100, Safari 5.05 and Opera 11.11.

Internet Explorer
As a browser there has never been anything that has caused as much controversy and grief.  For Microsoft the decision to bake the functionality of IE directly into the Windows Operating System was both genius and its greatest downfall (in my opinion).  Having done consumer tech support for years the fact that this default web browser has had so many holes and back doors opened in it that if it was not the DEFAULT browser for new computer users it would never have survived on its own.

The newest iteration, IE9 is trying to break the mold and really put the Microsoft Browser on the front line of both standards compliance (in rendering of web pages) this is all part of the Microsoft push to HTML5 and for that I am greatful.  The interface if very “chrome” like and spartan which gives more room for what a browser is supposed to do…display content.  It is faster that IE 7 or 8 from my memory but for me…I really only use IE at work and as a “code checker”.  Not my favorite but because of Corporate Support and it being the default “Internet Icon” on millions of desktops…for now we see IE as top dog!

Mozilla Firefox
Long my favorite, from the ashes of Netscape came Firefox.  The most used open source project in the world has continued to chip away at the lead that Microsoft built for itself.  I have been a raving fan of Firefox since the Phoenix version way back in 2002.  For Linux users, Firefox is the default browser and our friends in Europe have embraced Firefox to the point that it is a virtual tie for top spot there.

With a vast following and solid performance to W3C standards, Firefox does exactly what it is supposed to do.  Now I have heard some rumors and rumblings about stability issues around the latest version but my guess is most of this comes from leveraging the plethora of 3rd party plugins that are available to extend the capabilities of Mozilla’s flagship browser.  I was reading an article that in an upcoming update, Mozilla developers are going to bake in NATIVE .PDF support so that the need to use a plugin will be over!!!

Google Chrome
Starting as a browser and building into an OS what a life the Chrome browser has had in short 3 year life.  It is fast, it is secure and it performs as advertised but because of this…there is some missing functionality that is hard to take.  On an Internet built for IE users…it is hard to get “Standards” to come into play and I have had numerous “rendering issues” both in Linux and a VM version of Windows with Chrome.

New to the latest release though is the Web Store and the groupings of in browser applications that really point to the move to the cloud.  I like the fact that most plugins are built into the code when you install the browser so that I don`t have to head off to Adobe for my Flash Plugin and to Java for my java plugin it is all just there.  Recently there was even a rumor floating that Canonical is considering replacing Firefox with Chrome in Ubuntu 11.10 so it will be interesting to see the future.

Apple Safari
For Mac Users this is your baby.  On my iPad it is the default, the most easy to access browser and has served me well.  It is however just a browser and while HTML5 ready…there is something that is missing from it that I think all Mac products suffer from…I AM NOT STEVE JOBS AND I DON`T WANT TO DO THINGS JUST LIKE STEVE JOBS.  I would like to add and remove functions, tweak my settings and configure my life for me.

For a browser that does just browsing…solid, fast and easy to learn how to do what it will do so I will give it points for that but would it ever become my sole source for browsing goodness…NOPE.

Opera
This is where the fat lady sings.  For years Opera struggled with an identity that you should pay for surfing the web and get to be able to get the best browser because you paid.  That model never really took off but Opera has been very forward thinking and was the first to bring us Widgets, in browser torrent downloads,  and bookmark syncing.

The browser has several different versions that range from its Opera Mini that works like a charm on mobile devices (and was the default browser on more than one of my semi-smart phones of the past) and the full client version that is getting another makeover.  I have always had a tacit interest in the Opera but for some reason I could not get past its pay for browsing history and it always sat in the background as a backup browser.

Well that is it for me today…off to the rest of my day…cheers,

Chris J Powell

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