I have noticed while out doing service calls for residential customers that many people are confused about what a browser is. Namely, people seem to get confused about the difference between a browser and home page. According to Wikipedia a web browser (commonly referred to as a browser) is a software application for retrieving, presenting and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web. A home page is simply the first page you see when you open your web browser. Now that we have made that distinction let’s look more closely at the most popular web browsers and the differences of each.
For many years, Internet Explorer was the default browser for most folks. Since it comes pre-installed on your computer and packaged within the Microsoft Windows Operating System, few people were even aware that other options existed.
In most tests, Internet Explorer is the slowest of the three browsers, though the gap between the three has been shrinking with each new release of the respective browsers. While Internet Explorer has been the most popular browser worldwide, that hasn’t been true since around the middle of 2012 as other web browsers have been gaining popularity.
Internet Explorer has a very familiar and user friendly user interface according to many people. Many like the way explorer permits the previewing of individual tabs from the task bar or on top of the browser and allows the user to ‘pin’ websites and frequently used programs to the task bar at the bottom. Internet Explorer can still suffer from the inevitable bugs that plague many Microsoft products. The company has never hidden the fact that it relies on users to find many of the flaws.
Another popular browser is Firefox. It’s owned and distributed by Mozilla, which is a free software community.
According to many Firefox offers an enjoyable browsing experience largely due to the multiple ‘extensions’, which are similar to apps that enhance the browsing experience. Those with an interest in SEO and building websites tend to favor Firefox. There’s a lot it can do with regards to displaying website rankings, counting backlinks, and all those other things that many Internet geeks find fascinating.
Firefox commonly has memory management issues. It’s not uncommon to find your computer running slower and slower as Firefox gets itself into an endless loop that churns through your computer resources. Simply closing the browser and restarting will usually solve the problem.
Firefox is the most customizable browser and includes a built-in PDF viewer that’s surprisingly handy.
Google Chrome (which is different from the Google Search Engine) has always been the most reliable and simplest of these browsers. It provides a lean browsing experience without a lot of bells and whistles. Its great claim has always been with regards to speed. This is still the case. Chrome is the fastest browser in most tests.
There’s no shortage of apps available to boost the functionality, and Google constantly updates the browser. It is certainly the least likely browser to experience bugs, freeze requiring a restart.
If you’re interested in apps, speed, reliability, and simplicity, Chrome is probably the browser for you.
Any of these browsers can be downloaded for free and all work well for most needs. Perhaps the best way to make a decision is to give all three a try for a few days each. You’re likely to find that you have a strong preference after giving each a test drive. If you spend a lot of time online, it’s worth experimenting to find the web browsing solution that you favor and one for a backup.