The web browser is the most used piece of software on most of our computers, and there are quite a few of them vying for our attention. While Internet Explorer commanded the largest market share, that doesn’t mean it is the best browser out there. In this web browsers comparison guide, we will show you the features of the various popular browsers and which one is the best for you.
Google Chrome is Google’s attempt to deliver the best browser for navigating an open web. It is the only entry in our web browsers comparison that has spun off into its own desktop operating system, Chrome OS.
- fast and stable
- It has a great number of extensions in the Chrome store
- Users can also install themes, altering much of Chrome’s appearance.
- Chrome is available for all of the major desktop operating systems as well as Android and iOS. Users who sign into their Google accounts can sync their tabs, bookmarks, browsing history, and passwords across all of their devices running Chrome
- It offers the best compatibility with Google’s range of products and services
- Chrome ships with proprietary bits. This will not bother most people, but open source advocates may wish to install Chromium, the open source version of Chrome
- The browser has become relatively bloated since its initial release
Who It’s For: Googlers, People who love extensions and a fast browser.
Internet Explorer ships as the default browser for Windows and Windows Phone. The older versions of Internet Explorer (IE 6, 7 and 8) are disastrous and their refusals to die have caused many problems for the Web developers and users. IE 9 and 10 have improved greatly though.
- The browser integrated nicely with Windows 7 and 8. It is the only browser that is fully integrated with the Windows 8’s new tiled interface.
- The recent version is running faster and is more compatible with open web standards, making it much easier to use
- The available toolbars and add-ons pale in comparison to those offered by other web browsers such as Chrome and Firefox.
- Limited syncing feature. If you’re using Windows 8, you can’t even sync between the Metro and desktop versions of the browser. Don’t expect to do much cloud syncing, either. Only version 10 can sync between multiple computers, but not mobile devices, and it doesn’t sync as much data as either Chrome or Firefox.
Who It’s For: Windows users, Corporate employees (where the system administrator refuse to upgrade their computer OS or browser)
Firefox is an open source browser that has garnered a massive following since its release a decade ago, but it never managed to attract more users than Internet Explorer. It is also the only entry in this web browser comparison that has spawned a mobile operating system, Firefox OS.
- Firefox is more openly developed than Chrome is, and it is used as the default browser for most of the major Linux distributions.
- Firefox is the most extensible of all the browsers and it can be customized in ways other browsers can’t, with personas and add-ons
- Firefox is also available for Android. Users can make use of Firefox Sync to replicate tabs, bookmarks, history, add-ons, etc. across multiple computers and mobile devices, making it a good option to use on mobile device as well.
- Firefox has put on a few pounds over the years. Sometimes the increased file size and memory requirements result in a sluggish, and perhaps less stable, experience on older systems.
Who It’s For: Open Source advocates, people who love extensions
Safari is Apple’s default web browser for Mac OS X and iOS.
- It is a speedy browser.
- There is support for syncing using iCloud.
- In Mac OS X, Safari will give you the most integrated experience.
- While Safari used to be available for Windows, it is now only available on Apple platforms.
- While syncing is supported, you’re out of luck if you want to move to a Windows computer or grow tired of using the iPhone.
Who It’s For: Mac/iOS users and fans
Relative to the web browsers in our comparison, Opera largely walks to the beat of its own drum. It’s an adventurous browser, though some of its pros could also be considered cons.
- The browser is known for innovation, such as debuting the speed dial feature that most browsers have since adopted.
- It comes bundled with more functionality than other browsers, such as built-in email and IRC clients
- It also has options for reducing bandwidth on slower connections
- Its mobile version is speedy and is great for mobile surfing
- You can sync your data across all Opera browsers with Opera Link
- Opera is not open source. While Internet Explorer and Safari aren’t either, they ship as the default browsers for their respective operating systems. In Opera’s case, not being open source has probably hindered its adoption somewhat
- That built-in email and IRC client that comes with the desktop version might also be considered unnecessary bloat.
- Its extension library is not as extensive as Firefox or Chrome
Who It’s For: Tinkerers, People with low bandwidth
Our web browsers comparison cannot pinpoint a single browser that’s better than all others. Some people remain loyal to Firefox because there is a particular extension that is not available on Chrome, while some stay true to Safari because all their electronic devices are Apple-branded. For those who are not drawn into any of these browsers, there are still small players like Midori, Rekonq, Epiphany, Camino and many others. They might not be as well developed as Chrome or Firefox, but they are often speedier and lightweight enough without taking up much of your PC’s resources.
If you have any suggestions, let us hear them in the comments below.