As more of our programs and content move to the cloud and off our local drives, we become more and more dependent on our browsers to be stable, fast, and compatible with the many sites out there. The question everyone has before them is not only which sites to trust your information with, but which browser to trust your experience to. I have assembled four browsers that I believe deserve enough recognition for their efforts in keeping with current trends and technology.
You’ll note that Internet Explorer is NOT listed here, and for a very good reason. Internet Explorer has gone with Microsoft’s typical mentality of creating their own standards as far as page rendering is concerned that they purposely ignore the needs of many of their users. As a result, pages and sites fail to render properly on a regular basis. I can’t say enough how much I recommend against using Internet Explorer as your primary browser. The following is a list of browsers that I will give my recommendation to.
Mozilla Firefox has earned top credit for being the most popular alternative to Internet Explorer and as such has become the cats pajamas for most geeks out there. The platform is open and as such creates an abundant platform for third party add-ons that add a new variety of features. For example, this blog post is being made using ScribeFire, while checking my Twitter status using TwitterFox, and so on and so forth. This browser has been vetted and continues to improve with version 3.1 that is being released presently in beta 1.
Google Chrome hit the scene with an unpresedented amount of buzz due to its being the first browser released by cloud computing giant Google. Google is arguably the most powerful tech company out there due to being not only the most popular search engine, but a host to many of the most popular web applications online today. Whether you’re using Google Maps to get directions to your next stop, or Google Docs to keep you and your co-contributors up to date on the sales figures of your startup, or even enjoying a video on YouTube and Google Video, Google is pretty much the monolith company for your web-browsing needs. The leap forward made by Google as they launched this browser gave rise to fears that a company that already knows more about you than you do may also control the rest of your browsing experience giving them a level of control that seems almost frightening. These fears were quickly swept to the side as users discovered one of the fastest browsing experiences to date. Google Chrome offers users the speed of Webkit, the simplicity Google is known for, and the versatility of FireFox in one package. The downside being because it is a non-vetted browser, many users have discovered bugs and glitches that turn one of the most innovative browsers in to one of the most bug-ridden browsers out there. Thankfully, Google has been quick to solve many of the problems and plug many of the holes created by its new program. In time, I believe that Google Chrome may well overtake Firefox due to its wide marketing granted to it by its own search engine.
Speaking of Webkit, Safari from Apple is also on this list. Safari is built on the WebKit platform with a few modifications here and there from Apple engineers eager to create a very well rounded browsing experience. Safari on the Mac OSX is notably fast, secure, and elegant. Rendering appears smoother and the overall experience has an invisible learning curve for users of other browsers. Safari does, however, have some noticeable flaws in the ways of support from websites. A lot of websites out there will require that you use either FireFox, Google Chrome, or Internet Explorer to access them, stating that the browser you are using is simply not up to date. This is a matter of market share more than anything else, and the more Safari continues to grow in the Windows community, the more these little flaws will find their way out of the user experience. After releasing Safari for Windows, Apple was met with critique from security advocates as they tested the browser against common attacks. They found that the Safari browser was not quite as secure as Apple had boasted. Thankfully, Apple went quick to work fixing the vast array of security flaws in the browser. Today, Safari is still under the radar for the most part from attackers that may otherwise target it. There is a saying that the Mac doesn’t have viruses simply because it’s not important enough to write one for, not because it is so secure.
Opera browser has gained notoriety among mobile and Linux users as being a flexible platform with released aimed at mobile devices as well as other applications. Several gaming systems have integrated the Opera browser to allow web surfing using them. Opera boasts an incredible lightweight and pleasant experience without having to sort through a lot of third party add-ons. Built in RSS, email, torrent, and content blocking is standard on the browser. This is a great browser for beginners looking for a better experience than IE without having to learn any new tricks. Images appear to render differently than other browsers and this left me with a feeling that this would be a great experience for someone that loves visual candy on sites. The browser features speed dial which stores your 9 favorite websites in an easy to browse page for immediate viewing and selection. This feature has been copied by Google Chrome and on many Firefox add-ons.
Overall, these browsers have advantages and disadvantages for every user. It comes down to which one you prefer for your own uses. I personally have used all four of these as my primary browser at one time or another, and would happily recommend any of them over Microsoft’s offering.