How to Choose the Best Web Browser  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , ,

Today's Web browsers are faster and more feature-rich than ever before. If you're not sure which one you should use, our look at the most popular options will help prep you for prime surfing.

The recent launch of Firefox 3.5 was just the latest in a crescendo of activity on the browser front over the past few months. We've seen Google tout speed with its bare-bones Chrome 2. We've seen Apple's Safari 4 bring on both the speed and all the interface eye candy we've come to expect. Opera has come in with not only a beta of its feature-packed version 10, but also an alpha of an app called Opera Unite that makes the browser a server as well as a consumer. Starting it all was that juggernaut Microsoft, coming out with Internet Explorer 8, which the company claimed was more compliant with open Web standards.

But it turns out that standards are a far murkier issue than they may first seem. Firefox's promoters will brand IE as a completely behind-the-times, non-standards-supporting browser, but the standards Firefox supports haven't yet been ratified by the organization that's been the official keeper of the standards, the W3C. Firefox's support for the <video> tag is a good example: Though the tag itself is adopted by the W3C, the Ogg Theora video codec Firefox supports with the tag is anything but.

Rendering speed is another issue to consider when choosing a browser. Though all browsers today are much faster than they were a few years ago, the clear winner—at least as far as JavaScript rendering—is Chrome. JavaScript rendering is important for modern sites, which are behaving increasingly like applications rather than static pages. Chrome performed best in my tests using the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark, finishing in just 1,503 ms. But Safari isn't far behind, at 1,707 ms, and Firefox is right in the mix, at 2,413 ms. The once-snappiest Opera trails at 7,974 ms, and IE8 is left in the dust with a 10,281-ms time.

In terms of features and customizability, Firefox, IE, Opera, and Safari all outshine the stripped-down Chrome. But no browser can come close to Firefox in both its extensions and theming capabilities. Mozilla's "Fashion My Firefox" and "Personas" tools make it simple for novice users to customize the browser to their hearts' content. IE also has an add-on capability, but there's nowhere near the ecosystem for it as there is for Firefox. True, only IE offers WebSlices and Accelerators, which deliver up-to-date data to you with little fuss, right inside the browser, but few sites currently support WebSlices. (full Story)

This entry was posted on Jul 17, 2009 at 6:54 AM and is filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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