Three of the currently most used web browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. These three have been around for years – particularly Internet Explorer, which comes embedded with the Windows Operating System – and have been vying for the top spot on the top web browsers ranking. All of them work well enough to have them on the top three; but what makes them stand out among others? Having tested their latest versions over the last six days, here’s how they made out on our review.
Internet Explorer 9
Its latest official release was that of Internet Explorer 9 on the 14th of March last year. Its interface included a minimalist layout and awesome features. What makes it splendid is the lightning fast browsing speed, which is the fastest for any IE version we have ever tried so far.
Installation. If you are still very much in love with your Windows XP and still do not consider upgrading despite the outdated OS getting phased-out in the next two years, then you won’t have an official upgrade for your Internet Explorer either, and you’ll have to suck it up with IE8. That is because in order to get Internet Explorer 9, your computer needs to run on Windows 7 or Vista. And with Microsoft announcing that they will no longer support Windows XP two years from now, you can let go of your hopes that the company will release an IE9 version for it.
That aside, IE9 requires for a system reboot after installation for full implementation. It may have something to do with it working better on your computer after booting up, but it is kind of a nuisance.
Another thing is the Google pop-up. During installation, you get to choose whether to include Bing and MSN as your default search engine or not. After choosing one of both, a pop-up from Google trying to become your search engine will appear, even after system reboot, and will keep reappearing in a matter of seconds unless you say yes – an even worse nuisance.
Interface. The older versions of IE did not offer tabbed browsing and had so much clutter. With IE9, the comfort and convenience of tabbed browsing is now at hand. In order to maximize space utilization on the screen, they have changed their user interface to a better, more slim-lined layout. The tabs are usually in line with the address bar, which has also now become a smart bar called OneBox wherein you can use it as a search bar hosted by your chosen default search engine. But if you tend to open more than five tabs at a time, that bar usually looks a little crowded. To remedy that, IE9 has an option where you can move the tab bar below the smart bar.
Another feature that’s changed, looks and feels about right is the notification bar, which moved to the bottom of the screen and won’t disturb you anymore. Buttons for refresh, stop, bookmark, home, and settings have also been minimized to maximize space. Other bars such as those for menu and status can also be hidden and shown by clicking the tab bar.
Features. One good and usable feature that’s added to IE9 is its ability to pin your favourite site to your desktop’s taskbar apart from having it bookmarked by dragging the tab and dropping it on the taskbar.
IE9 has also improved on tab sandboxing, which they introduced in the previous version. You can now get a tab, drag it out of its current window and create a new window. Not only is it good for closing a crashed page without having to close the entire browser, it also gives you the choice to re-open the page. It also has a repair button beside the refresh button that fixes the page you load, in case it is a little defected and stuff jump around the page. The “New Tab” page now displays your most visited sites in icons in a grid-like display for a quick access.
In keeping with its splendid browsing speed, this newest version of IE9 also now boasts a faster and more secure download manager. It also features an “untracking” feature that prevents sites from tracking your activities thus minimizing advertisements that pop up on your screen. And to make it more “technology-forward”, it now has an improved ActiveX Filter and supports HTML5, and presumably other future software of the like.
Performance. As was mentioned before, Internet Explorer 9 makes for a really great browsing speed. This speed improvement is due to IE’s new Chakra engine paired with the addition of a graphics processing unit hardware acceleration, which makes the computer’s graphics card work faster. Another plus for this browser is that it is relatively stable and crashes, if there are any, are very seldom.
As Microsoft puts it,
Windows Internet Explorer 9 makes Web sites look and perform as if they were native to Microsoft Windows. Internet Explorer 9 lets you tap into the power of your whole PC so your Web sites shine. Taking full advantage of your PC’s hardware through Windows, IE9 lets you enjoy graphically rich and immersive experiences that are as fast and responsive as native applications installed on your PC.
Google Chrome 18
Since its first release a few years ago, Google Chrome has become one of the top web browsers in use around the globe. Aside from the fact that it is fast and provides for a maximized screen space, it is also one of the most up-to-date and standards-compliant web browsers, along with Mozilla Firefox and Opera to name a few.
Installation. In a word, the installation of this browser is simple. And fast.
Interface. Google Chrome, as it has always been, is known for its minimalist and clutter-free layout. Tabs still sit at the top of the screen and the smart bar, which they also call Omnibox, is located on the bar just below the tab bar. Apart from the Omnibox, the only things situated on the bar are buttons: backward, forward, and reload/stop, all of which preceding the Omnibox and the wrench tool for configuring the browser. The bookmarks button is already incorporated to the Omnibox.
Unlike its competitors, Chrome is a little bit strict when it comes to add-ons and, thus, for customization, too. Extensions only get to be on the right side of the search bar in between the wrench tool and the bookmark button, but it does not change any other aspect of the browser maintaining the browser’s uniform look. On the other hand, whenever Chrome releases a new stable version, the browser automatically updates, giving Chrome’s latest minus the hassle of downloading and installation.
Features. Chrome offers many security features such as the Safe Browsing protection that helps keep away malware and malicious files. Privacy protection has been highly improved, too. “Under the Hood”, which is accessible through the Options menu, offers several choices on how to keep browsing private from top to bottom.
Window flexibility, for which Chrome has been famous for, is still its best asset. Dragging out of tabs to make them into separate windows and dropping them back into the main window flows as smoothly as it goes.
One thing about this browser that got my thumbs-up is that it allows for multiple users to sign in to the browser using their Gmail accounts, which is separate from the browsers private browsing mode called incognito. Then, it synchronizes the user’s Chrome settings, including the bookmarks, from another computer for as far as the save point. Ehen the user logs out of Chrome, settings go back to normal.
While Chrome is known for minimizing screen clutter, it allows the extension manager, bookmark manager, download manager, and even the options menu to appear in different tabs when opened, rather than letting them appear as dialogue boxes and making it easier to manipulate.
However, Chrome usually crashes when pages have too much content that uses Adobe Flash, which include videos and side-advertisements, especially when your computer does not have a very good graphics card.
And as Google professes:
Google Chrome is a browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the Web faster, safer, and easier. Use one box for everything…
That surely promises us an easy, comfortable, and faster browsing experience. So far, Chrome has not been a disappointment.
Mozilla Firefox 12
Mozilla released Firefox 12.0 on April 24, 2012 but the browser actually has several followers and users already. Recently, it has also released a beta version and Aurora versions of its web browser. It made our list of top web browsers mainly for its high customization options that the rest have set with narrow boundaries.
Installation. After installation of the latest version, some add-ons from the previous version were rendered useless or incompatible with new ones. Good thing that Firefox updates add-ons on a daily basis, so that makes it possible for us to recover the add-ons that have been lost.
Interface. As for the user environment and features, nothing much has changed that are very noticeable to the user. The “User Account Control” remains out of the way though. Over 1, 800 bug fixes and security updates were added.
Performance. We are a little less impressed with the performance of this release though. It is good on the start-up but somewhere along the way, something snaps and the browser just suddenly crashes with no warning. Page loading time has also become slow and dragging. Vertical scrolling does not seem to respond well, especially when using the space bar.
In general, we find this version of the browser to be just slow and a little bit unstable compared to IE9 and Chrome 18, but if you are a fan of the nice and huge collection of add-ons that the first two do not give so much leeway, then Firefox could work well for you. However, if Mozilla could do something about the lags anytime soon, its deserters may just find their way back home.