Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesdays on the Web: Meet the Fantastic Five

I'd like to introduce you to the Fantastic Five. You are probably acquainted with at least one of the group already:
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That's right, they're web browsers! You know, that program you used to get here. and there. and wherever else you've virtually been this morning.One of these five browsers is used by 95% of people who access the internet worldwide (source).

If you are like most people, you haven't really given your web browser much thought. That's okay; I'm not really sure it hurts their feelings. If you're a mucho web-savvy blogger, you may have thought about it a bit more. (And you should definitely check out your blog in at least Internet Explorer and Firefox to make sure that what you see is what your users see.) Either way, humor me and think about your web browser for 10 minutes now. Use some unused brain cells. (On a related note, did you know that the "fact" that's often tossed around about us only using 10% of our brains is a myth? Read more about it here.)

I've compiled a few notes about the Fantastic Five for your reading pleasure (but there will be a quiz! actually, just homework). I'm not an expert and I haven't personally used all of these browsers, so I'd love to hear what you have to say about them too!

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Internet Explorer
In the spirit of full disclosure, I must tell you that Internet Explorer (IE) and I do not get along. I cannot fully explain it at this time, so we'll chalk it up to personal preference.

IE is the most common web browser. If you use a PC that runs Windows, IE came already installed on your computer. About 50% of web users and 34% of Housewife Eclectic readers (that's you!) use IE.

You should use IE if you don't want to download/learn another browser (for which I will take the liberty of calling you lazy...) or if you often need to use its compatibility mode to view older websites (which really should just be updated, I believe).

IE is only PC-compatible--sorry Mac users. If you're a PC user looking for a fast, secure browser that follows most web standards and won't bog down your computer.... IE isn't for you. Sorry. IE will do the job, but the next 4 browsers will probably do it better. IE and I do not get along so well, but if you and IE are living in harmony, I'm happy for the both of you. Just please make sure you install all security updates. :)

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Again, full disclosure: I use Firefox daily. I love Firefox.

Firefox is IE's biggest contender, pulling in just over 30% of users worldwide and 43% of you housewives (woohoo!). Firefox is available for Windows PC, Mac, and Linux (another operating system).

Firefox is fast, safe, and customizable, but it sweeps me off my feet with its available add-ons. I dabble in HTML (not real web programming), and Firefox has so many add-ons that are so helpful with finding bugs in my code (more on those next week because I love them so much!). Add-ons can also help you change the look of your Firefox browser, customize the functions of your Firefox browser, and so much more. There is a very large community that develops for Firefox, so there are literally thousands of add-ons.

The only real flaw I've found with Firefox is that it crashes occasionally. With tabbed browsing, one tab crashing sometimes crashes them all. The latest versions seem to have fixed that, though.

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Chrome is a relative newbie on the browser scene, but it's quickly gaining popularity for its speed. The fact that it is a Google product gives it major brownie points in my book, because I see Google as a company that perpetually improves and adds on to their products. (Yes, that was an unpaid testimonial.) Also, my favorite Greek will soon be working with Google, so I'm pretty excited about that, too.

Anyway, Chrome has 7% of users worldwide and 8% of you all. It is, according to many reviews and comparisons such as this one, the fastest of the web browsers, as well as being secure and reliable. It is also customizable like Firefox, but since it's newer on the scene, not as many add-ons are available... yet. So far, the browser is only fully available for Windows but is in beta testing (read: almost ready) for Mac and Linux, too, so Chrome is definitely an up-and-comer worth the free download.

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Safari is built for reliability and pulls in just under 6% of worldwide users and 13% of y'all. Safari is a bit more minimalist in its simple design and straightforward function. It gets you where you want to be on the web without many add-ons or other unnecessary frills.

Because Safari lacks in frills that I love to (over)indulge in, I use Safari when I need to see the web with fresh eyes: no ad-blockers, none of my personal settings. Safari is available for both Mac and Windows operating systems.

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Opera is the browser that you've probably never heard of unless you are a techie or happen to have run with the tech crowd at some point. (I am in the latter group.) Opera is used by only 2% worldwide and, as far as we can tell, none of you. :) Opera runs on Windows PC, Mac, and Linux, and is also a very popular browser for mobile devices and phones.

In reviews, Opera is hailed as being the best for older, slower computers because it requires minimal resources to run, meaning your computer can run faster. It also starts up faster and is secure. However, Opera struggled with web multimedia such as Flash in many tests, and few add-ons are available.

Thanks you for the 10 minutes of humoring me; I hope I haven't bored you to tears! So, here comes the homework. (I know, drag...) Since I'm fairly certain that none of you out there have used all 5 of these browsers, I want you to try one that you haven't used much before. Download the browser of your choice by clicking on the titles above. Once you've installed the browser, use it for all of your daily web travelings. Just for one day, longer if you feel like it. Then, report back and let me know what you think. Love it and decide to switch? Great! Hate it and decide that you will never again stray from your web comfort zone? Also totally okay. This is just a learning experience. In the next week, I'll be dedicating a day each to Safari, Chrome, and Opera. (I already know that IE and I can never truly live in harmony.) Next Wednesday, we'll report and share our findings. Happy browsing!



Tera said...

Super interesting challenge, but I have a question? Are all of these browsers compatible with a Mac? I have tried the other three (not Opera, of course) on my PC. But I have only ever used Safari on my Mac. Just curious. Thanks for the challenge.

My Mercurial Nature said...

I heart firefox, and it took me a long, long time to switch from my lazy IE usage to trying something new. Boy am I glad I did...IE and I weren't friends, but FF and I get along dandy!

Sara Richins said...

I use Chrome 99.9% of the time. Firefox and I have issues, so I'm going to make sure I have all the updates and try it again. Safari and I, well, I'm not a fan. Although, I did use it all day yesterday and on Monday because Chrome was having issues. But if Hulu is giving me trouble on Chrome, I use Safari to watch whatever show my DVR couldn't record. LOL! If you can, give Chrome a try! It's amazing!!

The Kooky Queen--Rachel said...

I looooooooooooove Firefox! But that was interesting to see what my blog looked like in another browser. I even found something I needed to fix seeing it from another perspective. Great post!

Louisa Book Cottage said...

I am impressed with your knowledge! You have about 98% more that I do. Everything I have learned is by the seat of my pants. Oh, well, I guess it is more than a lot of Grandmas learn... I am still learning. I will stick with IE for right now.
Come visit me and enter my giveaway. Check out the site I have recommended. It is totally free and will save you lots of money!
I am following you from FF

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