If you just bought a Windows PC, chances are that the only Internet browser on your computer is Internet Explorer 8 or 9. It’s a better browser than it has ever been. Long ago (before version 7), IE was buggy and prone to virus infections, now it’s secure and fast. It got to this point by taking the best features from other browsers. So, if you want a preview of what the next version of IE will look like you should try some of these other browsers.
There are many other browsers, but just a few front runners. They are all a little less prone to infections than IE, mostly because IE is installed on every Windows PC and hackers and crackers want to reach a large number of people. They all look a little different and all have slightly different features. To choose the one you like you may have to try more than one. You may even use more than one on a regular basis.
Despite IE being installed on every PC, Firefox is actually the most used browser. As of November 2011, Firefox is used by about 38% of users while IE is in third place with 21.5%. Firefox is used by so many people because it is stable, has a reputation for being secure, and has a huge repository of add-ons and extensions. Regular, nearly invisible updates keep security holes and software bugs at bay. Plus ,you can customize and extend Firefox to behave and look exactly how you want.
Right now, Google Chrome is the second most used browser, but the way things are going it might overtake Firefox in 2012. Chrome is an operating system unto itself. In fact there are actually netbooks that only run Chrome. The reason they can do this is that Chrome runs Google Docs, Gmail, Google Apps, and just about everything else Google related better than anyone. With the Chrome store you can get an app to do just about anything that Windows or OSX can do. To top it all, Chrome runs really fast and takes up less memory than Firefox or IE.
Opera built its reputation on being fast and introducing us to tabbed browsing. It has never had a large market share, but those who use it, love it. Tabs are in every browser now, but Opera is still very fast. It is lightweight and can adjust to slower internet speeds if need be. If you are looking for something different, Opera might be the way to go.
If you are using a Mac, Safari isn’t a third party browser at all. But, if you are using a Windows PC and you like the design and beauty of Apple, Safari is your only option. Apple’s developers have done well making Safari compatible with Windows, it runs quickly and smoothly. Their developers know how to make a great first impression and the top sites page, when you first start Safari, does just that. It gives you a beautifully rendered view of the front pages of all the sites you visit most, so you don’t have to waste time wading through your bookmarks.
One more factor you might want to figure into you browser choice is the upcoming switch to HTML5. HTML is the “programming” language of webpages. HTML5 is the latest incarnation of that language. Considering HTML 4 has been in use since 1999, this version is long overdue. Adoption of HTML5 has been slow, but should become the standard in 2012. It’s new features are worth the upgrade. Most sites that need multimedia rely on plug-ins like Adobe Flash or Microsoft Silverlight. HTML5 allows web developers to integrate audio and video without using plug-ins. But, HTML5’s capabilities rely heavily on the browser you use. Currently the browsers above stack up like this in regards to HTML5 support:
1. Google Chrome
5. Internet Explorer 9