Now that Google has released its browser, Chrome, that leaves us 4-5 big players in the browser wars.
1) Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (download)
2) Mozilla’s Firefox (download)
3) Apple’s Safari (download)
4) Opera’s Opera (Weird – their company name is the same as the browser name) (download)
5) Google’s Chrome (download)
Pretty much everyone has used IE, unless you are a main frame unix guy or something, you at least have probably used it to get Windows Updates. I think I started using it around IE3, then IE4, IE5, IE5.5, IE6, now IE7, and actually I am using IE8 Beta2 at work. IE works, but it has been plagued by security vulnerabilities, and stagnated from lack of innovation from the IE4 days till now, where they are finally picking up steam again. Although, you are kind of stuck to Windows if you want to use IE, one of the major factors I don’t use it as my main browser. IE has somewhere between 70% and 80% of the market share, so your site better work in IE. I do say death to IE6 though. MSFT should push IE7 as a mandatory update.
Firefox is multi-platform, a good thing. It also seems to have major releases more often, better auto update support, and of course, extensions, which really extend the browser to something way better than ever imagined. Firefox has security issues sometimes, but they are usually quick to fix, and they are also pushing the competition with every new release.
Safari, oh Safari. I did try to use this as my main browser when I picked up my MacBook Pro, but after about 2 weeks I had to switch to Firefox. It just lacks some key features that make me want to switch back to Firefox, little quirks. It does render fast and nice, and yeah, the iPhone version is much better than PocketIE – its not even a comparison. Safari works now on Windows and Mac, which is also a good thing, cross platform is always nice.
Opera – well, it has 1% or less of the market share, but it just won’t die. I only use it when I need to test a site that has to work on everything, other than that, not much. Seems that stuff renders different in Opera. They have made some strides in features, like mouse gesturing, and other things that other browsers have “stolen” if you will, but I just don’t see Opera being a big contender in the space. It is cross platform which is nice, but it just doesn’t have the steam the other browsers do.
And then the new player, Chrome. Some are saying it already has 1, 2 maybe eve 3% of the market share. I installed it and used it for about a week as my main browser. It uses WebKit, the same rendering engine as Safari, so sites that work in Safari for the most part work in Chrome. (Firefox uses Gecko by the way). Chrome is the fastest out of the bunch, at least from my experience. The new concept of tabs on top is different. The process model is different, where each tab is a process (IE8 Beta2 has this as well), and there are other “new” features in Chrome – most of which are in IE8, FF 3.1, or available as extensions on FF 3.1. It isn’t cross platform yet, but they say it will be in time, fair enough.
So from the list above, you have Firefox and Opera (which is not used by many) being cross platform. Which means, if you want to use Windows flavors 2000, XP, Vista, or Mac 10.4, or 10.5, or many flavors of Linux, Firefox is pretty much the way to go, to get the consistent experience from OS to OS.
Most companies and corporations are STUCK on Internet Explorer 6. This just makes me cringe. At least get to IE7, it has been out for two years, IE8 is coming out next month!!
I see chrome gaining market share, but Google is walking a fine line on privacy it seems, they have already backpeddled a few of their policies since they released Chrome.
Safari is good for Apple users, or someone who wants the “Apple Experience”. I suppose IE gives you the “Microsoft Experience” the best. Chrome will give you the “Google Experience” the best. Firefox just gives you the “Best Experience” :)
I would recommend every once in a while switching to a new browser for a week or two, just to keep up with the changes. I guess you should switch not just browsers, but everything if you can (OS, Media Players, etc, etc) – Try It!