New Geek on the Block
Technology, Sci-Fi, Gadgets, & Geekery.

What Is The BEST Web Browser?

Lately there has been a lot of discussion about web browsers, with good reason, there are tons of them available these days, such as: Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, Opera, Camino, Flock, and Webkit (I’m not even going to get into Mobile Internet, that’s a different discussion).

It all started with Netscape, the grandaddy of browsers, which enjoyed almost 100% market share until Microsoft released Internet Explorer.
Because of Microsoft’s Windows popularity, Internet Explorer became the default browser. In fact many people didn’t realize that anything else even existed (and still don’t).

But back then web browsers were quite different. They performed much simpler tasks, and the Internet was still very much in its infancy.
Just think about the web pages you viewed on your old IBM Aptiva. Were they hideously designed Angelfire pages that assaulted your senses with crappy animated GIFs and MIDI soundtracks?

Today our web browsers are expected to do a whole lot more. Most young people spend more time on the Internet than they do watching TV (our previous favourite pass-time). Web browsers are now email clients, video players, news readers, maps, word processors, spreadsheet programs, and a whole lot more. They have developed beyond just plain HTML, to a web full of CSS, Javascript, Flash, and a whole slew of other languages and syntax.
But most importantly, we expect our browsers to be FAST, and stable. I can’t afford to have my browser crash when I’m in the middle of writing a paper, or uploading a new blog post.

Personally I find myself using switching off between two browsers: Firefox 3, and Webkit (I’d probably be talking about Chrome too if it was actually available on OS X).

They both have their own quirks and quips, up and downs. Firefox has the power of hundreds of add-ons and extensions which customize it’s functionality to your own preferences, and Webkit has blazing fast speed, and simplicity (although with some effort it can also support many of the same extensions as Firefox).

Webkit blends seamlessly with OS X because it is the basis for Safari (I prefer the nightly builds that Webkit and find it just a tad faster than the most recent Safari release). It’s simple, and elegant, and immediately recognizable as a Mac app. Tab functionality is good, especially its ability to allow you to drag tabs to rearrange them in the order you choose.

But Firefox is powerful. I have a number of choice extensions installed. It functions well with the social networks and bookmarking sites I frequent, and has great dev tools for testing out my site.

Most recently I discovered the Control-Tab 3D interface (built into the 3.1 Beta) and fell in love. At first it may seem superfluous and flashy, but when doing extreme multitasking it adds an amazing new level of functionality (much like Spaces in Mac OS X Leopard).

I can’t really say for sure what my favourite browser is, at the moment my ball is in Firefox’s court, but that could change at any time.

What is your favourite browser? I want to hear from you. What features do you find useful/essential. What do you think is the most important thing a browser needs to offer?

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5 Responses to “What Is The BEST Web Browser?”

  1. I’m a firefox man myself, mostly because when I build a website, if it works in firefox it will usually work in the other good browsers right off the hop (Opera, Safari, etc). And I can’t live with out my web developer tool bar! I don’t know how I did anything without it.

  2. Ive alwasy loved firefox theres some really good add ons for it adn its customizable, i worked with safari for a while on the pc when it first cam out. its flashy but doest run well at all. alot file exstension issues as anyeon would imagine happened. And when yo-u said netscape was the original web broswer that accurate but only for canada. AOL was huge with dial up in the states.

  3. Actually Netscape was a subsidiary of AOL. It lost most of its market share to Internet Explorer, but was still supported through it’s various versions until recently when AOL stop supporting it on March 1st 2008.

  4. I use firefox, like Chad said, because I can’t live without my Web Developer tool bar. I would use Chrome if they had a Mac version, simply because I love each tab being its own process. If firefox did that, I’d be in heaven.

    My biggest issue with Safari is that it is so hard to set any settings. I can’t really tell it where to download files, or things of that nature. Like a lot of my Mac, it tries to think for me, and I tend to think a bit differently then a lot of people. Like setting the default application to launch PDFs with. My wife uses a mac, and hates Firefox so she uses safari. At some point, safari lost the ability to open PDFs using preview.. and I can’t figure out a way to force it so she has to save it, then open it.

  5. I’m currently using Firefox 3.1b1, which means most of my extensions don’t work anymore, but even though I’m missing things like Delicious extensions I’ve got it set up in a way that is more comfortable than any other browser at the moment.
    The new beta seems to handle javascript better, and even though it is a beta seems to be far less buggy. I’m looking forward to it coming out of beta so that my extensions will start working again.


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