Browser Wars

In a few years, the Internet had became the primary application of computing, fueled by the need to get connected with the rest of the computing world. For the myriad programs that anyone can use to access the net, no other program can match the overall functionality of web browsers, and that is why there has been an intense competition among browsers out there.

For the record, I have all five major browsers and I use all of them. Of course, in terms of functionality, some browsers are just better than others. I have listed down each of the browsers, listed and ranked according to my own order of preference:

  1. Opera = I first learned about Opera as a recommendation in a magazine (I think it’s Smart Computing) along with other browsers like FF and Safari (which can only be used from Mac at those time), mind you, and it had instantly became my favorite browser. The convincing factor was the one feature that has always been Opera’s prime strength: speed. For a dialup user, it sure is a godsend. Many versions later, even though the other browsers may have improved on their speed, and Chrome in particular has a blazing JavaScript engine, I still think Opera is still the fastest for all-around browsing, mostly because it segregates all the contents of a page into elements. But Opera isn’t just about speed. For a (semi?-)closed source program, it has always been in the forefront of innovation, introducing many useful features that will become standard features in the other browsers later. Opera introduced tabs, and even though the other browsers now have one, Opera has better tab management than the others. Other features that started on Opera includes the following: speed dial, mouse gestures, sessions, synchronization, popup blocker and phishing filter, built-in email, IRC and torrent client, and plenty more. In my opinion, Opera was the most mature of all the browsers because it has many solid features, and not just bells and whistles.

  2. Chrome = a few months ago, Google released a open-source web browser to the unsuspecting public and immediately gained a lot of attention, thanks to its internal JavaScript engine named V8, which caused many web pages to load faster (like Digg, one of my favorite sites), in some cases even faster than Opera. (Unfortunately, Chrome falters on sites containing plenty of scripts and Flash contents). Chrome is now out of beta, and it’s shaping up as a serious competitor for web domination. What I like about Chrome is that it’s everything FF should have been. It has a cleaner and simpler interface and it also consumes less resources than FF. It’s only a matter of time before it gains support for extensions like FF, but for the record, the browser has plenty of tweaks to extend its functionality.

  3. Internet Explorer = oh yeah, it’s the browser that everybody loves to hate. To be honest, IE is actually a decent browser, it does its job pretty well IF you have a clean system, you update Windows very often and you don’t clutter the program with lots of toolbars. Oh well, for most users, that was almost an impossible task. IE8 RC1 has recently been released and it has some original features such as tab groups, web accelerators, web slices, Document inspector, image search from address bar and inPrivate browsing. And it’s noticeably faster, in fact, it’s almost as fast as FF. But if you want to add extra features into IE, you can install other programs, for example, IE7Pro and download managers.

  4. Firefox = FF is steadily gaining percentages in the browser shares (the latest ratings shows IE dropping to 67%, while FF rose to 23%. And, oh yeah, there’s such a thing as browser ratings). FF’s rise to fame is no doubt a triumph for OSS, but I won’t join the celebration. To be honest, I find FF extremely overrated. The problem I have with FF is that it was such a resource hog. Despite addressing the horrible memory leaks of v2, it’s sad to say that the memory leaks wasn’t completely fixed. There were still some noticeable slowdown when opening more than four tabs or after more than an hour of browsing. I was playing around with Chrome’s memory manager (you can open this by typing “about:memory” minus the quotation marks from Chrome’s address bar) while opening up all the browsers. I also tried the same using Windows’ built-in task manager. Both yielded the same result, FF consumes the most number of resources. And if that wasn’t enough, I don’t particularly like FF’s program interface, and it’s absolutely useless without plugins (as much as possible, I try to avoid downloading a lot of stuff for a program, and I was too spoiled by Opera because most of the stuff in there was built-in). Sorry, but I prefer Chrome.

  5. Safari = if there’s one good thing I can say about Safari, it’s the fact that it renders pages beautifully, which makes it pretty ideal for viewing blogs, social network sites, forums and image sites such as deviantARt. Unfortunately, that was the only good thing I can say about it. The problem I have with Safari is that, like iTunes, Apple software is meant to work only with Apple hardware. On Windows, it never runs out of bugs.

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