Know Your Browser-Part 1

A browser is an application program that provides a way to look at and interact with all the information on the World Wide Web. The word “browser” seems …


internetexplorerA browser is an application program that provides a way to look at and interact with all the information on the World Wide Web.

The word “browser” seems to have originated prior to the Web as a generic term for user interfaces that let you browse (navigate through and read) text files online.

Technically, a Web browser is a client program that uses HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) to make requests of Web servers throughout the Internet on behalf of the browser user.

Most browsers support e-mail and the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) but a Web browser is not required for those Internet protocols and more specialized client programs are more popular. We have many browsers like Opera, Safari, netscape, Mozilla, Avante, Chrome and the rivalry continues.

Internet Explorer seems to be taking the lead partly due to its default installation with Windows operating systems but how do you truly know a user likes the browser they have selected purely for its features and performance and not for its name?

A user would use various browsers not knowing which one they were using and they would simply all look the same. Then you can truly see if the user likes the browser for its features and not lead to like it for its name.

Granted, this would be a little difficult as the look and feel has a lot to do with the selection of a browser. Being that IE has a larger market share, most of the users connect with IE6 and 7, but what surprised me was that there was actually a pretty large number of users who use Firefox too (~20% or so).

The industry the client services is not aimed strictly at technical people either.

From experience, I have found that with the lion’s share of the user base on the Internet, almost every site I have tried displays 100% correctly in IE. When you go to other ‘compatible’ browsers you start to find, to a greater or lesser extent, incompatibility.

I know many say IE is insecure compared to xyz browser. It seems to me that security is much more about how you surf and whether you have the right precautions/tools in place and whether your OS is patched and properly configured than any inherent weakness or strength in your chosen browser.

At the other side of the coin, Firefox demonstrated to me some good features — if I accidentally close a tab, I can go to History > Recently Closed Tabs and easily recover the tab. With the tough competition between browsers in terms of features, ease of use, etc, I have to applaud Firefox for continuing to please me and never failing to impress me with its add-ons.

Some specific features that I like about Firefox is that it allows you to clear your cache easily, blocks pop ups by default, has tabbed browsing capabilities, and has the ability to restore your open Firefox windows after recovering from a crash.

Yes, some of the features are now included in all browsers, but Firefox was among the first (if not the first) browser to have these features, everyone else copied.

Firefox would also allow you to hide all of the browser’s menus including the address bar, bookmarks bar, File, Edit, etc, menus. Initially, when Firefox was losing to Slim Browser -yes, a browser that you may have never heard of- it was the Hide Menu Bar add-on that saved Firefox. Another add-cool feature of Firefox is IE Tabs.

The add-on will essentially “emulate” an IE environment in a Firefox tab, allowing you to open sites that are incompatible with Firefox, in Firefox. With firefox you will be able to start several tabs automatically as a ‘homepage’ and you could have a separate download helper box: It’s great to have downloads pop out into a separate window that retains a list so you can easily go back and see what you did and find the files. It must be age, but I periodically find myself searching for something I downloaded but cannot find where it got to.

Even within the IE family, I do prefer IE6 to IE7, and find it very useful at work when I need to Run As. This feature in IE7 does not really work, although it appears to.

Furthermore, IE7 seems to take slightly longer to open (and launch tabs) than IE6. I use a browser-based application for about 90% of my time at work, so I have noticed the smallest differences in browsers in terms of speed, features, ease of use, and intuitiveness. I do find the feature in Chrome of it launching each tab in a separate process to be nifty, but how often does Firefox crash?

How often do people surf processor intensive/memory intensive web sites? Not very often-that single cool feature is not enough to make people fall in love with Chrome. I used Opera for a while, but did not find it intuitive as Firefox. In addition, it contained too many features that I found insignificant to basic web browsing

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