Posted on Jul 29, 2020
The World Wide Web is a vast landscape, filled with all kinds of platforms, services, marketplaces and more. It is seriously daunting to think about the exponentially growing size of the internet, but it helps that we have a solid way to navigate our way through it - the web browser. First created in 1990 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, web browsers are how the vast majority of internet users access websites from all around the world. Today we're going to take a look through some of the most commonly used web browsers in today's market and see how they compare.
Still one of the most well known web browsers worldwide, Internet Explorer was likely how a lot of the global population experienced the internet for the first time. Originally releasing in 1995 being bundled in with Windows 95 (the most commonly used operating system at the time), Internet Explorer skyrocketted in popularity - hitting its peak in 2003 with 95% of internet users were using the browser.
Despite being so heavily used for so long, its grip on the market started to slip fast after the introduction of solid competitors - most notably Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. More and more users migrated over to these platforms due to compatibility issues with some major sites, and when Microsoft Edge became the new default browser on Windows, Internet Explorer is now better known as a browser of the past.
However, it's still available and used today - but how does it compare to the other browsers used today? Well, it's not too pretty, but it's best to start with some positives. Despite no longer being the default browser on Windows, it is still built in - meaning you won't need to download and install it like the other browsers (apart from Edge). It has very easy download management, very solid media streaming capabilities and a great security engine to boot.
The problem with this is that most - if not all - of these features are available on other browsers, typically performing better than on Internet Explorer too. When you also consider that it has no extension support and its slow speed, it simply doesn't stack up well when compared to other browsers on the market. It's a very important piece of software in the history of the internet, but shouldn't be used today.
From one default browser to another, Safari is the main pillar of web browsing on Apple devices. Introduced in 2003 for Mac computers - and in 2007 for Apple's iPhone - Safari has been a staple of Apple's ecosystem of hardware and software. It's never been overlly popular in the global browser market, but is it actually a good web browser?
The best thing Safari has going for it when compared to other browsers is synchronisation and integration with other Apple products. If you sign up with an AppleID, you can access your browser history, bookmarks and passwords that you saved on another Apple device with the help of iCloud. This can be handy if you shift devices a lot (say from an iPhone to a Macbook to a Mac).
Unfortunately, this is the only real positive for Safari - like Internet Explorer, other browsers have much better features and functionality, and Safari offers very little in terms of customisation. Another big issue you might find is that the one positive it does have is really only beneficial to people using Apple products exclusively. Now this is still likely to be a lot of people, but if you're not in that bracket - and realisticly, even if you are - you're much better off looking elsewhere.
The newest kid on the block - on this list at least - Microsoft Edge is Windows' new default web browser for their operating system. Launching in 2015, it was initially met with a mixed response by users - mostly due to the fact that people weren't too eager to shift away from the other browsers that had become staples at this point such as Chrome and Firefox. After being rebuilt in a new engine in 2019 however, more and more people are looking at Edge as more of a competitor in the browser market than ever before. Let's take a look into why.
Due to the change to the Chromium engine, Edge has gained some nice benefits that have helped increase its user-base. It is very fast and lightweight with a simple-to-understand interface, and comes with integrated support for Adobe Flash and PDF files, meaning it can be very accommodating for a lot of different files and projects.
A downside to Edge is that it lacks the ability to search through your web history, meaning it is often tedious to find a website that you vaguely remember visiting since you can't simply search for it. It also appears to consistently be behind its market competitors in terms of web standards, which makes a lot of users look to the other more popular browsers.
Microsoft Edge is definitely an up-and-coming browser platform, but it's still in its early stages and lacks some key features that entice users elsewhere.
Now we get to - in our opinion - the two best web browsers currently on the market. First let's look at Mozilla Firefox - the first true rival to Internet Explorer in many people's eyes. It was created in 2002, but wasn't officially released until late 2004. It surged in popularity in its early years, achieving a global usage of 32% by 2009. It's numbers have dropped since then thanks to Google Chrome, but it's still used by a lot of people nonetheless.
Being open-source, Firefox is highly light and customisable - making it a hit with web developers. The open-source nature of the browser also lets it boast a fantastic range of extensions, capable of helping users enhance their browsing experience in many different ways. It also doesn't overuse website caching too much, meaning you are less likely to fill up your devices space with temporary website files.
Firefox still isn't perfect, however. The browser can have some problems interacting with websites - meaning some websites may not be able to be viewed at all - and using too many extensions can cause the software to use up quite a lot of your computer's memory. Neither of these problems are overly common however, and most users are unlikely to encounter any issues whatsoever.
Firefox is a long-running software that has stood the test of time and has features and benefits that lets it rival all of its competitors. If you're looking for a solid web browser, this is the first one on this list that we solidly recommend.
Finally, let's take a look at Google's web browser - Chrome. First launched in 2008, Chrome has skyrocketed in popularity to absolutely dominate the current browser market, boasting a whopping 68% of global web users. It single-handedly leaped past Internet Explorer and Firefox to become the most well known web browser of the 2010s, but how?
It is easily the fastest browser out the ones I've listed here, which - alongside its multitude of customisation options and user-friendly interface - make it a very snappy and easy-to-use browser that can be tweaked to exactly what the user wants. Another big plus of Chrome is that it is multi-platorm, meaning that - as long as you are logged into your Google account while using Chrome - you can switch to another device and all of your history and saved passwords will carry over.
All of this makes Chrome a very compelling choice - however, Chrome has some big underlying issues you might not be aware of. Chrome is owned by Google, and Google is well-known for their data-collection. Using Chrome means that Google will be able to collect data on all the websites you visit, what content you're viewing, what purchases you make, and even more. It's definitely not good in terms of privacy, since Google is tracking your every move.
Since Chrome now houses over two thirds of all internet users, this could end up being detrimental in the long term. Monopolising the market would mean that Google can add less user-friendly features down the line and users will feel that they don't have another choice for a browser. Also, being so popular means that Chrome is a big target for hackers. Since Google collects a lot of data from its users, there's a small chance that data might end up in the hands of hackers.
Chrome still has a lot of great benefits that makes its current dominance of the browser market understandable. However, it's important to know of its drawbacks in order to make for a more fair decision when you choose your browser. All in all, every browser has pros and cons - some more than others - however the market is always changing with the development of better software, so always make sure to find a browser that's right for you.