At the dawn of the internet age, web browser choices were limited to Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer. Despite the fact that both were greatly influenced by Mosaic, a Coke-Pepsi style browser war ensued. Microsoft, being the commercial tycoons we all know and love, ultimately won the battle by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows, the company's supremely successful series of operating systems.
Internet Explorer continued to grow and dominate the market, claiming up to 95 per cent of all users by 2002. Since then, many other web browsers have been developed, reflecting the changing needs and demands of internet users.
Being spoilt for choice inevitably leads to the question: which is the best web browser? The answer can only be found after exploring the most popular browsers used today and comparing what they offer the end user.
Internet Explorer 8
With IE9 in the pipeline, IE8 is the latest browser version to be released by Microsoft. Featuring a bunch of 'accelerators' aiming to banish the need to cut and paste, IE8 promised great things. E-mailing text, getting dictionary definitions or currency conversions are now super speedy and the 'web slices' are handy for checking on eBay bids. The new privacy feature proved effective and the 'group tab' function appealed to those who organise their work visually. Unfortunately, security concerns have plagued IE8, driving many users to alternative browsers. Microsoft releases security updates frequently for IE8 but, more often than not, these arrive after the damage has been done. IE8 is also thought to be heavy on system resources and slower than many other rival browsers.
Opera become a popular choice for early Microsoft defectors, featuring numerous options that only eventually became available in IE. One of Opera's key advantages was its tabbed browsing facility, which is now a standard feature in all browsers. Despite losing a substantial chunk of its user base to Firefox and Google Chrome, Opera continues to produce updates that keep it at the forefront of technology. The browser also provides users with privacy and web data controls that are arguably the best on the market, whilst advanced accessibility options, such as the zoom function, are of benefit to some users. Many websites, however, are not 100 per cent compatible with Opera.
Firefox was billed as a faster, more secure and more customisable alternative to IE. The fact that Opera had only inflicted a slight dent on Microsoft's market share meant that Firefox, with its clean, sleek look, tabbed browser functionality and emphasis on speed, reliability and security, was destined to make an impact. Extensions are also available for Firefox, making it a customisable browser that feels light and fluffy yet remains relatively robust in terms of security. In the face of stiff competition, the popularity of Firefox continues to grow exponentially.
As with Firefox, Chrome delivers a faster, more secure browser than IE. Chrome is also very customisable, as evidenced by the many extensions available. Some of the more popular extensions include Speed Dial, which allows users to create visual links (or dials) to their favourite websites, and various security and privacy tools, including AdBlock and Disconnect. In many ways similar to Firefox, Chrome is arguably the lightest, quickest and most secure of the latest generation browsers, although, as with Firefox and Opera, compatibility issues on some websites are a problem. Nevertheless, the customisable Chrome and user-friendly Firefox are without a doubt among the best browsers available today. Until, that is, IE9 comes along and borrows all of their key features and functionality!
This article was written by Workbooks.com, leading supplier of CRM software.