Tech Tips with Mr. Tech Savvy

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Battle of Browsers

Do you remember Netscape Navigator and how it used to look on our old "boxed" computer screen? That same “navigator” was the first commercial internet browser introduced in 1994. It started off very well, being the dominant browser with up to 90% of users worldwide. The only competitor that Netscape had to battle with at the time was Microsoft's one and only Internet Explorer. Referred to as the First Browser War, It was a beginning of a ruthless competition. And eventually, the year 1998 gave way to Netscape's defeat with IE souring to over a 90% monopolizing share of internet surfers. It was evident that IE enjoyed a sweet symphony of being the leader in the browser war from then.

At that point of time, it was obvious to say that if you have browsed the internet, then you have used Internet Explorer at least once in a lifetime. Or if you are a Windows user, you are sure to have used it and probably are a big fan too.

During subsequent years, there came along a lot of new names and brands with new features and designs. But the one that we have surely heard of and which has really shown success is Mozilla Firefox. With newcomers becoming more and more popular, it brought us to an era of a Second Browser War. By this time, we've barely heard of the name "Netscape". After a long struggle with its competitors, Netscape's doubtful existence officially died a cold death on March 1, 2008.

Let's look at the top three warriors that are battling it out in today’s war.

Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer still leads in the browser race today. Including all versions, IE holds an over 50% user share. Its popularity significantly owes to the fact that Windows operating systems comes pre-installed with IE. While over 85% of the people around the world use Microsoft Windows operating systems, it is no doubt that majority of internet surfers are attached to IE. However, recently, as numerous others have proven this war to be a tough one, IE has been struggling to maintain its superiority. Introduced with the public release of IE7 in 2006 were features like tabbed browsing, phishing filter and search tool. It might have proved a little success but by this time, these were no longer exclusive features. The competitors would have emerged with the same and even more features to offer their users. IE7, therefore, did not succeed as expected. Nevertheless, Microsoft announced its beta release of IE8 recently, which we eagerly wait to see some great enhancements.

Firefox
The closest competition to IE today is Firefox, and to be exact, according to W3Schools.com, the percentage of Firefox users is now above 35%, which has never stopped growing since its first release. Standing in the second position, Firefox is an open source browser developed by Mozilla and supports Windows, Macintosh and Linux. Firefox has certain highlights that definitely please its users. These include features that allow users to add extensions or change the browser’s interface by applying downloadable skins. Moreover, being an open-source platform, independent software developers can create extensions on their own to tune up the browser in the way they want and share them with Firefox fans around the world. This creates a strong community of users who will always try to improve the browser. While the testing version is already out, Firefox is giving finishing touches to its new 3.0 version.

Safari
An official browser by Apple, Safari is one of the youngest entries into this war. Having only about 2% users in hand, Safari has a long way to go to get closer to IE and Firefox. However, its growth rate is believed to be very interesting. The infamous iPhone and iPod Touch that have taken the world by storm come with Safari as the default browser. With more such gadgets being sold, the popularity of this browser is inevitably boosted. Just recently, Apple released its latest Safari update for Windows, the 3.1 version, claiming it to be the fastest browser. With this, Apple does hope to widen its market on the Windows platform.

The world has already bid farewell to one of the major warriors of this war, while there are still stronger ones working extremely hard to dominate this battle. As the technology devotees pursue the fate of this war, common users enjoy the result of new and better products. The war has a lot more coming its way for us to expect the unexpected. We shall wait and watch.

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Till next week… Tata ;-)

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