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Pick a Browser

An introduction to the 4 most commonly used Web Browsers

Steve Smith, host of your Technology Questions Answered, introduces to listeners the 4 most commonly used web browsers.

Episode #1-49 released on September 4, 2011

If you want to access the internet, chances are you using an internet browser to get online. Everyone knows what Internet Explorer is, or do they? We all heard of Firefox and Google Chrome. And, everyone who uses Macs, iPhones, iPads, etc... knows what Safari is. These are the 4 most common web browsers. They all have things in common, and some have features that you may not necessarily know about.

Let's start off with Internet Explorer. Its installed in all Windows Machines. Its literally part of Windows. Its also the most commonly used browser online, and a web-site designer who designs for this browser is rarely wrong about his visitors. It also has a history of insecurity, and is the only browser that still uses ActiveX, which is required for Windows Update.

FireFox, created by Mozilla, the same authors that brought you Netscape, created this competitor, originally to offer people a better web browser experience, and to this day they offer people the ability to install unique plugins, while maintaining a supposedly more secure internet experience. To the internet programmer, we find them occasionally annoying since they claim to be more compliant towards newer standards, but we are required to add special indicators to tell FireFox that this style is for this browser.

Chrome, first released in August 2008, is Google's attempt at a web browser. It is clean, fast and continues to be more and more compliant towards newer standards. Combined with Google's bug finding and fixing program for programmers, and the silent background updater, this web browser is always the first to be truly secure. It even has its own flash plugin which may explain why it is more secure.

Safari is to Apple, as Internet Explorer is to Windows. Being Apple's default browser, and being used on all iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, and all Macintoshs, this browser is really user friendly. It, also, offers some features that other browsers don't.

Let's start off by explaining a few positives and negatives for each browser. Then, I'll give you my choice of web browser, and why.

Internet Explorer, combined with many vulnerabilities from the continue access to ActiveX, to unparalleled false positive java script error reporting, this browser also lacks any true safety feature that prevents software loading directly within the browser. Also, despite being the most used and compatible browser on the internet, it is still a ways to go before being truly compatible to many of the new standards in a full release. Although, the current beta version 9 does show promise, this is not a good choice of browser from the safety conscience. From a developers point of view, this browser does allow us to make web-sites faster and more compatibly for our user bases.

FireFox, the first browser on the scene boosting security. No ActiveX here, this browser will not install in frame applications the way Internet Explorer does. You can skin it, you can add plugins, etc... This is also a browser, that at least in theory, loads faster than Internet Explorer, although in fact, does not. If you add plugins and themes to your Firefox experience, it will load the startup time. It also comes with a software updater that allows it to update the software, however, if you don't allow to update in background or press the wrong button, you'll have to wait for the next update, or be forced to update via direct download. FireFox has shown lately, that it does have the ability to turn off plugins remotely. We saw this when Skype's plugin kept crashing FireFox. To avoid the bad publicity, Mozilla deactivated the plugin remotely to all its user base. This was probably the first time a browser company did such an action to protect it's users. It did leave you the ability to reactivate the plugin at your own risk until Skype complied to fixing the erroneous lines of command responsible for crashing FireFox.

Chrome, a web browser that is clean, simple, fast and safe. Google takes great care in this software solution, and it being HTML5 compliant helps. It has its own version of Flash, updates silently, and with little need for you to act on your part. The interface is really minimal, but allows you to see a lot more of the page your visiting also means you don't work as hard to see quality content. Also included in the new Google Chrome OS, this browser is making strives towards quality internet browsing experience.

Safari, Apple's baby, you should never under estimate this browser. It is a lot like Chrome, clean, simple, fast. Best of all, it remembers which sites you like to visit, and for those who always visit the same sites, there is a button that loads a screen with thumbnail views of all your favourite web-sites.

Things to remember, if you have kids or inexperienced internet users, you want to be using a secure browser, so that means Firefox, Chrome or Safari. If you want to access a web-site, and know its going to load correctly try Internet Explorer or Firefox. If your looking to build an HTML5 compatible web-site, test it in Safari or Chrome, the 2 most common mobile browsers, besides Opera. And if you like visiting the same sites over and over, Safari is the one for you.

Now, I started by saying I'd tell you which browser I prefer to use, and having all 4 installed, and using all 4, I know which one is best suit to my internet browsing experience. Even though I load Internet Explorer to check my web-sites, and add-ons, I prefer Firefox. My Netflix works without issue, it loads web-sites normally, and as intended. I can change the interface, and I can manipulate a lot in the interface. I, also, have no risk of ActiveX infection caused by FireFox, since it doesn't exist in this browser. It is also the default browser experience in all my Linux installations.

Next week, is the last episode of season 1, and I'll be talking about office software solutions for students, and their price ranges. Come back next week to learn more about inexpensive and free software solutions for your office and school work needs. I'll also be launching new season based episode lists page in the coming week to welcome in the end of our first year of your Technology Questions Answered. Have a great day, and let's see you all next week.

Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

Sources & Resources