There are now a number of mainstream browsers available each with it's own plus points in it's own niche.
So let's talk about the following:
- Internet Explorer (IE)
- Mozillar Firefox (FF)
- Google Chrome
- Safari 4
IE is the most commonly used browser from Microsoft and is probably the one you are currently using like about 90% of all internet users. This domination is due to the very successful policies adopted by Microsoft to achieve market domination. Unfortunately, they have been just too successful and run up against the courts who have demanded that they uncouple it from their Windows operating system.
IE's domination is slowly waning and most recently Microsoft were forced by the European courts to include a reminder to all users on their opening screen that there are other browsers available. You will also find that the percentage of browsers of different types will vary according to your market. While the penetration of IE is very high for the general market it is much lower at maybe 60-70% for the internet marketing niche. This reflects marketers preference for Firefox.
IE was actually overtaken by Chrome as the most commonly used browser in May of 2012 though this is most probably due to the use of Chrome in the Android operating system which, as an open source platform, is used by many smartphone and tablet manufacturers. Smartphones and tablets are increasing dramatically in market penetration and will shortly rule the world.
This is really incidental to the real problem that Internet Explorer does not conform to Internet design standards. I have personally come across at least two occasions when I have blamed software for some inability to complete the task it was supposed to perform amid much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth only to find that when using Firefox the software operates exactly as it is supposed to do.
Very often, when using Firefox, you will find that websites will not perform properly with windows of strange shapes. This is because the programmer has not designed it to internet standards but has found that it runs fine in IE and that will do for them. So this is not a Firefox problem but a lazy programmer problem - which would never exist if Microsoft had produced a compliant piece of browser in the first place.
So I run with Firefox for all normal purposes and have IE loaded in my Start bar so that I can fire it up if I want to look at a particular website.
Firefox is used by most of the remainder including most internet marketers. You can see this very clearly in any software such as Google Analytics that reports the browsers being used by your visitors. On a non internet marketing site, something about dog baskets for example, you will find maybe 10-20% of Firefox users. On an internet marketing site, perhaps something about search engine software, the percentage is likely to be much higher. This is because Firefox is much more useful for internet marketers as it has lots of additional tools that tell you useful information about websites that you are looking at. Firefox is free to download from www.firefox.com
For help in using Firefox go to: http://opensourcearticles.com/articles/firefox_15/english/part_0
- Search Status add-on menu
Firefox also has a number of useful addons that provide great information about the website you are viewing. One of them is Search Status that will tell you all sorts of useful information. Right clicking on the @ sign in your toolbar brings up the menu on the right and checking any of the items produces a report within seconds.
I particularly like the ability to highlight 'no follow' link attributes for when you are optimising the linking on your own site as well as researching which high value sites might be passing on page rank by not using the 'no follow' attribute on their links.
Just underneath on the screen shot you can see the green Google Page Rank and blue Alexa bars. This shot was taken on Squidoo.com - hence the PR of 8 and the Alexa ranking of 540. Both numbers show up when you hover your mouse over the bar.
You can download the Search Status add-on from https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/321
Opera has been around for some time and is best for those with a slow connection, frequently mobile or using wi-fi hotspots. It achieves this by a Turbo feature whereby it processes the pages you request via Opera's own servers in order to optimise it and minimise file sizes, images and strip out superfluous material.
Opera also has a Link feature which enables you to put your Favourites or Bookmarks online so that you can access them from any machine. There are a number of other ways of achieving this so it is no longer exceptional, however, it is useful for calling up your favourite sites on your mobile phone or pda.
Chrome is intended by Google to be fast, clean and powerful and, no doubt, compatible with the Android operating system they have released for their mobile phones. With the usual clean Google interface there are some powerful features tucked away. However, you can frequently equate the 'baggage' they are trying to get rid of to additional functionality availbale from the numerous addons available with Firefox. So for the moment and while I spend most of my time at a desk rather than doing a Captain Kirk impression I will be sticking with Firefox.
Safari is Apple's contribution to the group and the default browser on their Mac computers but also operates on a PC. Slick and attractive as you would expect from Apple and common across their computer, iPhone and new iPad ranges.
Safari has a nice Coverflow mode which remembers a snapshot of sites you have previously visited thereby making it very easy to navigate back to sites you have recently visited. In similar vein the TopSites opening screen presents a visual picture wall of your most frequently visited sites.
Good, slick, solid and attractive for those who want to pretend they've got a Mac when they haven't. 🙂
My recommendation is to make Firefox your default web browser but to pin any other browsers you want to have available (right click on the program name when you open Start>>All Programs) to your Start menu so that they are readily available when you need them according to the circumstances.