With new rivals out, browser war gets fiercer

With new rivals out, browser war gets fiercer

With new rivals out, browser war gets fiercer


Created by the Mozilla Corporation, which in turn is owned by the not-for-profit Mozilla Foundation, Firefox can trace its roots back to Netscape, which was effectively killed off in the so-called ‘browser wars’ of the late 1990s when Microsoft successfully got Internet Explorer pre-installed in virtually all PCs. When Netscape made the code for its Navigator browser available to everyone, a community of developers snatched it up and created Firefox. It was launched five years ago and introduced now de-facto standard browser functions such as tabs. There remains a mammoth developer community behind the browser, ensuring that it is constantly updated so it always allows for safe browsing.

Also based on the open source technology that underlies Firefox, Flock is designed to unashamedly jump on the social networking bandwagon. The latest version, launched earlier this year, integrates a range of social networking and other online services – including MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Blogger, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail – directly into the browser through a People bar on the left hand side of the screen. Users can instantly share their web browsing with their contacts by dragging and dropping content to the People bar. It also allows users to ‘flockcast’ – sending status updates to more than one social network – straight from the browser.

Google Chrome
Google’s entry into the browser market in 2008 seriously stirred up the internet world not least because Google also has a deal with Mozilla to be the default search box on its Firefox browser. Obviously unhappy with the bloated state of some other browsers on the market, which slows down performance, Google stripped Chrome down to the essentials while still retaining a high degree of security (it maintains blacklists of sites responsible for phishing or malware attacks so users can be warned before visiting them).
But as with so many things involving Google, questions have been raised about the amount of information the company retains about what users are doing with Chrome.

Very popular in its home market of China but relatively unheard of in the west, Maxthon is a fast web browser specifically designed for Windows and comes loaded with features which on other browsers the user would have to download themselves including content filtering and ad-blocking.

Slim Browser
At first glance this effort from Shanghai-based Flashpeak looks anything but slim.
 The browser window heavily resembles Internet Explorer and looks quite busy at first glance, but all the elements are customisable so the user can move or remove any of the buttons.

Now in its 10th iteration and with well over a decade’s worth of innovation and work, Opera has never quite lived up to its potential. It’s a fast – in tests it has beaten Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox – and feature-rich browser with a lot of fans despite its relatively modest share of the market. The Norwegian company behind Opera has had more success recently in the mobile phone sector with a slimmed down version of the browser becoming a very popular downloadable ‘app’ this year.

AOL Explorer
This browser from AOL, recently spun off from Time Warner, is all about security, in keeping with AOL’s rather nanny-ish character. It’s built on Internet Explorer so users should see no change in the way they view the web, but it is full of security features including pop-up blocking and a Spyware Quick Scan to ensure nothing dodgy gets downloaded from the web. AOL, however, is moving away from browsers and recommends its users download a special tweaked version of Internet Explorer 8.

Avant Browser
One of the more popular lesser known browsers, tech bible CNet describes Avant as like Internet Explorer “if it were being produced by a small firm instead of Microsoft”.
In fact it was originally produced by a Chinese programmer named Anderson Che and leans heavily on the technology that IE uses to render web pages. Browser staples such as tabs, auto form-filling and pop-up blocking are all present but it has some compatibility issues with Microsoft's Vista operating system, according to reviewers.

Based on Firefox but designed specifically for Windows users, K-Meleon is almost a decade old and is highly customisable but requires a certain amount of technical knowledge to get the best out of it.       

Designed in Japan and owned by Osaka-based Fenrir, Sleipnir has done very well in its home market and again relies heavily on Internet Explorer for its look and feel – it also uses the same page rendering technology as IE so users should see no difference in the way that pages appear.
Customisation is the name of the game with a wide variety of plug-ins for the browser, including a simple-to-use screenshot generator.  

Steve Jobs and Safari
Originally designed by Apple for use with its Mac OS X operating system, two years ago the Californian giant launched a version for Windows which many reviewers thought ‘undercooked’. After several updates, the new version 4 of the browser is reliable and relatively fast – it is based on the same open source technology as Google’s Chrome – but lacks the customisation of other Windows-compatible browsers.
Apple got into hot water last year when  it tried to boost PC users of Safari by bundling it into software updates of iTunes   and QuickTime.             
The Guardian