We are currently in an era where Google Chrome is miles ahead of the competition but its rivals are starting to play catch up. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 11 (IE) is gradually being phased out and being replaced by a next gen browser called ‘Microsoft Edge’ for Window 10 ‘only’. Mozilla Firefox and Opera are continuously updating their versions regularly whilst Safari has fallen a little behind after not being utilised in Apple’s quest to beat Google.
Installing in any of the 4 browsers is fairly straightforward and all follow the same process. Users can simply download from the browsers respective website (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari) unless your operating system already has the browser installed. i.e. Safari is pre-installed for Mac OS X and IE for Windows. The browsers are not a big file so should not take long to install.
Google Chrome: Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux
Mozilla Firefox: Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux
Internet Explorer: Windows
Safari: Mac OS X, Windows (no longer updated)
When keeping the browser up-to-date, Chrome and Firefox win hands down. They install automatic browser updates in the background without interfering you whilst surfing the web and applies the new updates when you relaunch the browser. As they are third-party browsers, they will get updates more frequently and will probably fix bugs sooner than IE and Safari.
Firefox does have a cool feature where the user can manually update the browser themselves, for more control of their options such as sticking to an older version of the browser. Though stopping automatic updates is not recommended as it can cause your computer to become a risk as the updates add security and stability fixes.
The features that browsers offer are what separate them out as speed and compatibility is relatively the same across all four. Each browser offers different features for the user from app stores, add-ons, extensions and tools. All of which can be controlled by the user when surfing the web.
Google Chrome: Chrome is constantly doing updates everyday even through their extensive Web Apps Store, which offers apps both locally and for the web. Google treat Chrome’s browser like a desktop operating system, which lends itself to being able to access all the range of Google tools on offer such as Gmail and Google Drive.
Mozilla Firefox: Firefox has consistent updates with a wide variety of extensions on offer. Though when the browser gets update developers have to retool their extensions to be compatible with the latest version.
Internet Explorer: IE 11 rely heavily on optimizing for Windows 7 and 8. Many of the functions such as switching tabs to new windows are much simpler and slicker in the latest browser. Most of the features are still retained from IE 10 such as individual tab previewing from the task bar.
Safari doesn’t have the greatest amount in terms of extensions compared to its rival browsers. However they cater well on extensions for productivity and organisation. Third party extensions are unfortunately bland and don’t flow with the browser like Firefox or Chrome.
The best tool for secure browsing is using your own discretion. Unfortunately all browsers have experienced security / privacy attacks in the past. Chrome, Firefox and Safari use Google’s Safe Browsing API to detect potential dangerous sites. With the API getting regular updates the security for the browser is constantly updated. Chrome goes a step further by scanning potential harmful downloads. All the browsers provide the option to be surfing the web privately. By using the private option, your history, temporary Internet files and cookies are not stored. IE 11 uses a security feature called Do Not Track, which block trackers from communicating with the browser.
Looking at the latest numbers on StatCounter over the last year (Sept 2014 – Aug 2015) Chrome dominates the market with over 50% (52.82%) of the global browser market making it the king of the browsers. Firefox and IE are still popular browsers and have a very similar following of 15.62% and 15.99% of the global market. Safari still has a decent share of the market with just under 10% (9.31%) however it has shown a very slow decline in numbers.
The facts speak for themselves which browser is the most popular on the market and in terms of numbers, Chrome offers the largest range of apps and extensions that are useful, along with consistent updates for security / privacy measures. Chrome also works best for me in my profession of web design. Firefox and IE are steadily improving with consistent updates to improve user experience but not quiet in the same level as Chrome, although these prove popular for some of my peers working within SEO. Microsoft Edge may become the new contender to Chrome’s throne but that will depend on how many people use the new Windows 10 and if users will be happy to swap their favourite browser for something new, no matter how much improved it is on its predecessor.