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Let the web browser battle begin Part 2: The race for second

By George Craig
web posted April 6, 2015

TECH PROFESSOR Ė Last week we touched on two of the most popular web browsers IE and Chrome. This week we will look at some other browsers. Safari, Firefox and Opera round out the top 5.  Again there are so many out there that I could spend the next few years covering them but we donít have that much time. That said let us start with Safari.
If you have never used an apple product then you may not know what Safari is other than a trek through the African plains. I can assure you donít need a rifle for this Safari. The Safari Iím talking about is appleís default web browser. Apple started out using Netscape and then in the late 90s started using Internet Explorer.  As the 5 year deal with using IE coming to a close in 2003 Apple released their very own web browser Safari.  Safari soon became the default browser for everything Apple. Safari is now on all iPads, iPhones, and all Mac computers.
Now if you use a ďPCĒ or any Windows computer you can also use Safari. That's right. They made a windows version. So if you are used to using Safari on apple at home and want to use it at work then with your IT departments say so you can download it and it will work just like it does at home. Now with Apple iCloud you get a lot of the same features that come with Google Chrome like Docs and Drive. Safari also offers a streamlined user interface that can make it nice to use.

With Safari on mostly just Apple products it does cut down on the market share they could have but Safari still does very well with between 8-12 percent over all. I will say this, Safari is like a lot of Apples products, made with quality in mind. If you ever get a chance check it out. Itís different but you may just end up liking it.

Firefox is the next browser to look at. Firefox I guess you could say is the grandchild of Netscape. Born as Phoenix, it came after Netscape's almost complete market loss to IE. After a couple of name changes due to legal issues from Phoenix to Firebird to Mozilla Firebird to finally come to rest on Firefox in 2004, they took the world by storm. The Mozilla foundation started off with a big PR campaign for Firefox and then it spread from there.

Firefox has had some issues along the way with the likes of version 1.5 in 2005 using too much memory but they soon had that fixed and in 2010 Firefox was tested and said to use the least amount of memory when more than one tab was open. Since then it just keeps getting better for Firefox. Bringing backing things like search and apps on Google, Mozilla was able to focus on streamlining Firefox and making it faster and faster.

Today Firefox is one of the fastest browsers out there and uses less memory than most. With around a 20 percent market share worldwide I think Firefox is underused. I keep it as a second browser and use it all the time. Firefox makes a great first or second browser and if you have never used it then you are definitely missing out.

Opera web browser was part of a project started by a Norwegian telecommunications company in 1994 and started singing on its own in 1995 as a pay to use service on Windows computers. You got a free trial and at the end if you wanted to still use it then you had better pay. In 2000 Opera switched to advertising based to support itself. That means that you got ads all over the place. In  2005 Opera made a deal to make Google itís default search and in return got paid enough by Google to get rid of the ads completely and has been ad free since.

Opera today is made from a lot of the same stuff as Chrome but was the first to start using Speed dial. Speed dial is where those little pictures of your favorite and most visited website appear below the search bar. Opera also has a lot of neat security features like automatically checking a website to see if itís on any blacklists.

Starting off very modest and as a pay for service it took it some time to get to the 2-4 % world market share it has now. As the speed gets faster and the features better I see this browser sneaking up on the rest. Given enough time I think Opera could really hit the mainstream.

That completes the overview of the most popular web browsers out there. All in all they have a lot in common but are still able to separate themselves by features, speed and use of memory. Again there are so many out there, try looking around and you could find some nice gems that do what you need to do better than some others. Check out this website that talks about some of them. https://gigaom.com/2014/08/24/six-alternative-web-browsers-you-should-know-about/.

At the end of the day remember this, Always have more than one browser on your computer. Any two will do just make sure itís at least two. You could always be like me with 4 different browsers.

Until next week, class dismissed.

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