If you are like most regular computer users you only know one way to navigate the Internet… using Internet Explorer. The computer comes with it, why should you use something else, right?
Well, I’m not here to tell you which one is the best browser (not getting paid or endorsed here), but, I can give you some pros and cons although I can’t make any guarantees.
On a side note believe it or not, the European Union forced Microsoft to give users the option of choosing the browser they want, meaning they had to provide other browsers in their Windows installation. As a result, now people have the opportunity to choose how to navigate the Internet. Here in the United States, we are not so fortunate and there’s a lot of people that only know Internet Explorer.
So, why should I have multiple browsers?
There is no “do or die” reason if you want the honest truth but, then again, is there a real need for every household to have more than one car? Do we really need more than one TV in the house? Why do we even bother with data backup in our computers? Oh that’s right, that little thing called redundancy.
Whether we like it or not, things break down and with computers, one erroneous click can take you to own a dead computer within a matter of seconds (pardon my drama!). Sometimes the computer might still function properly but, the browser doesn’t. If I had to count with my two hands the amount of times an installation of Internet Explorer went corrupt on me… let’s just say I would have to ask for the hands of the entire Lakers team to count. It’s a fact that the browser gets corrupt and yes, you can try and download it again but how are you going to do that if you don’t have another browser?
Sure, you can repair Windows, just go into the Control Panel or do some maintenance tasks to try and troubleshoot the problem. However, another fact of life that I’m sure Murphy would agree with is that, things will only breakdown when you are in a hurry. So why not just have another browser ready to go, to avoid unnecessary emergency troubleshooting that could end up costing you more money if you are not technical enough (which that might be the case considering you are reading this blog).
What are other browsers are people using?
Like any statistics out there, there are different types that look at different samples and the results obviously are different. I’m going to use data from the past 2 years from the website StatOwl which has sample of 28 million unique visitors per month. What I can interpret from this data is that although the first two spots more than likely are in the correct order, the numbers may actually vary. As per the other contestants (which I doubt that’s their order too), but, I don’t collect data from 28 million visitors so I can’t really compare, here is the percentage count of users and their preferred browsers for Internet navigation:
- Internet Explorer (IE): 62.14%
- Firefox: 20.14%
- Safari: 9.15%
- Chrome: 7.72%
- Opera: 0.33%
Even though you might read this and say, “wow, there is no competition against IE”, you have to understand that five years ago, IE had 90% of the pie and now it’s down thirty percent. Like I said before, I would not be surprised if its more than that. You might want to ask yourself, why are people changing? That is an answer only you can find.
Which other browser should I download then?
Ok so, by now I’ve probably scared you or ‘guilted’ you into downloading another browser. Not the reaction I was going for but I’ll take it nonetheless. So which one right? There are so many options. Well, you really can’t ask me which one, because me being the overly paranoid pseudo geek that I am, I downloaded them all. You know, because you never know when 5 browsers go bad and the sixth will save your day. Plus I’m not here to sell you my favorite but to give you the options.
Anyway, what I can do is give you a list of the most familiar browsers out there, tell you a little bit about them and give you positives and negatives about their use. Then, you need to pick which one(s) you want to download. Who knows, you might discover something other than Internet Explorer and your structured navigation world might come crumbling down allowing you to expand your horizons… wouldn’t that be something to be proud of?
Believe it or not, IE is on its 9 iteration (currently in public beta, meaning it’s still in the testing stage). What that means is that it’s been a part of us for the longest time. Since its appearance in 1995 as part of Windows 95, it’s been a wild and crazy ride that some of us have taken without realizing that… there are other cars available.
I can tell you that it’s a Windows product so, it goes without saying that it integrates fairly well with anything Microsoft-related and for the average user, there is very little outside that. That might change soon with all the free apps online but that’s material for another story. Also, there are places online that still require you to use IE to navigate. Which means that even the IE haters know they can’t get rid of it. They just hide it as best they can until such time when they have to wake him from the bottom of the code. It’s their version of the Kraken I would say.
The cons? Well, were to start. Ok how about security? Every month new patches come out to secure some flaw someone found that will put your machine in jeopardy. Then there’s the layout of the buttons that a lot of people tend to dislike. Not to mention its a very heavy browser; it can be slow as molasses! And let’s not forget the bugs. When this browser decides to throw a tantrum, man oh man!
If you haven’t met him, allow me introduce you to one of the darlings of the developer world for the longest time. It’s an open source browser (in simple terms, free code unlike Microsoft), that has been known as the antithesis of IE. Anybody that has been using the Internet long enough will remember Firefox’s twice-removed second cousin named Mosaic and closer to home was it’s stepfather Netscape, also known as Mozilla Application Suite. The first complete version under the name Firefox launched in 2004. Since then we have gone through 3 versions (in their defense, they do release half versions) and version 4 is already on public beta as well. As you can see, the competition is fierce when it comes to release dates.
As to the pros well, anybody who is anybody loves it, and in the end it’s about the cool factor, right? But in all seriousness, it has a reputation for being flexible and fast with the functionality of add-ons which are small applications that get installed into the browser that serve multiple purposes, from spam busting to social media talking.
The cons are limited but important to know. Basically, once you get the hang of the add-ons, you grow a little crazy and start installing more and more of them. The result is a slower, more sluggish browser and sometimes add-ons have issues among themselves creating problems. In addition, if you have to navigate a site that requires IE, the navigation experience is really bad.
You know, kids in every family develop their own personalities. The old mature one, the slim athletic one, the efficient one, etc. Chrome is the attention craving baby in my mind. The little kid that would sing and dance and do anything for the crowd at the family gathering. Since it’s release in2008, it has already grabbed close to 10% of the market. Mainly because its a Google product and like a lot of their products, they tend to be a hit.*
The pros? It has a unique design and although it could be compared with Firefox by some, it does its own thing. Recently, they released the Chrome Store which are apps like you’d find on a smart phone but for the browser. It’s a very interesting approach that has a lot of people hooked. Also, based on my experience, it’s a pretty fast browser too.
The cons are simple. It’s new. As a result, some web pages have issues with the browser, others don’t recognize it properly and the look and feel although very slick, may seem confusing and different for more traditional people.
Then comes the middle child. You know the one that’s good, but he’s not the first, nor the latest, nor the adopted, he’s the other one. I personally believe Opera has not been given the respect it deserves. How bad is it? Well, the first browser came out in the late nineties, they were one of the first browsers to go the smartphone route, and they are already on version 11 trying to not stay afloat but ahead of the curve. The problem is… well, I don’t know what the problem is. Perhaps people associate it with a musical Opera and the short attention span kicks in and they just run.
The pros are enormous. It’s stable, it has few complaints on security issues compared to other browsers, works perfectly in multiple operating systems and has great security features. Yes, I know I mentioned security twice.
Cons? I can’t really say. I don’t use it that often which adds insult to injury to the fact of me trying to defend it so much. This might mean that there is a real mystery involved when people decide not to use this browser. Here’s a funny sarcastic list of possible reasons people might not want to use Opera written by an intern candidate to that company. I would agree that its an Ophobia.
This browser is not new. Anybody with a Mac knows that Safari has been around for a while. However, its PC version wasn’t released until a few years back . My first experience with the Windows version was a crash of my computer right after opening up the browser. As you can imagine, I was not very pleased with the result. Since then, there have been many updates/upgrades and its stable but, I’ve never been a big user of it.
The pros include a very clean and easy to navigate toolbar. You know Apple, everything has to be slick. Another pro is that for anybody coming from a Mac, or anybody going to a Mac, this is a good transition to experience an application from that platform. It may not be exactly the same but you get an idea. I see it as training wheels.
If you are not going or coming from a Mac, you might find it a little annoying. I’m not dissing, I’m just saying what I’ve already heard from end users. Like I mentioned earlier also, it’s a recent product so there are still kinks here and there that they are trying to get around specially when it comes to navigate sites that expect IE.
*for a curious look at Google products that have not succeeded take a look here.