Nearly every non-Macintosh computer comes with some version of Internet Explorer (IE) as its default browser, and many users do not realize that IE is not the only option. Simply put, a browser is the window you use to display internet content. Here’s a sampling of popular browsers:
Microsoft Internet Explorer accounts for more web users than all other browsers combined. Mozilla Firefox is a distant second and Apple’s Safari browser is an even more distant third.
Mozilla Firefox works for Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux users. Firefox has a smaller footprint than any version of IE, which means it uses less memory and performs faster. Users have thousands of custom add-ons available to choose from, making this the most extensible browser available. Some of the add-on programs available for Firefox are Fashion your Firefox to customize your browser with specific types of media, Stumbleupon, an easy way to mark pages you want to recommend to others, Thunderbird, a Mozilla email client, and Greasemonkey, an add-on application that allows you to choose from thousands of user-created plugins.
Flock, also built by Mozilla, is a great option for people with fully involved online social lives. It has comparable options to Firefox in terms of speed and security, and offers a built-in blog editor and photo uploader, plus a sidebar with social networking and RSS feed options. Flock is all about staying connected, offering easy connections to two dozen social applications, including Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Sphinn,YouTube, and Gmail.
Opera offers integrated email functions and private browsing. Small file size makes it a good option for older computers with limited resources.
If you use Internet Explorer, make sure you upgrade to IE 8. It is more stable and less crash-prone than IE 7, and it offers private browsing. Many programs are still written to perform only in IE and remain untested in other browsers.
Google Chrome is the newest offering on the market, a stripped-down browser offering lightning-fast searches, a helpful task manager to recover from browser crashes, and easy return to frequently visited sites. Chrome is still relatively new and not universally supported, so don’t be surprised if you experience some compatibility issues.
For Mac users, the default Safari browser remains most popular, with good reason. Safari is fast, loaded with features, customizable, and virtually virus-free. A version of Safari is now available for PC users.