After posting my latest article in February about IE6 overstaying its welcome I was met with feedback from colleagues, as well as some personal realizations… Many people these days are unaware of the benefits and features of modern browsers and the fact that other options even exist beyond what came bundled with their computer. My goal over the coming weeks is to briefly touch on those topics in hope of enlightening the average internet user to the great alternatives available.
First things first:
What is a web browser?
A web browser, in its simplest form, is a computer program which takes text files from a virtual destination and converts the data into something functional and (hopefully) aesthetically pleasing. The page you’re looking at now, for example, is nothing more than a bunch of textual code which has been conveniently made legible and visually attractive courtesy of your web browser.
Without getting too technical, think of your TV set, for example. Those little waves and signals traveling through the air and through cables to your home are virtually useless until you connect them to your TV or a device that can then translate the signal into a useable picture. Essentially a web browser acts the same, in the sense that it’s a portal to access otherwise unusable data.
What web browsers are available?
Believe it or not, the pool of browsers for you to choose from is surprisingly large. There are, however, merely a handful that dominate the market – Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, and Internet Explorer (IE).
Firefox is produced by Mozilla, a non-profit organization with a goal of bettering the internet. Chrome is a product of the web giant Google, Safari a product of Apple (another tech giant). Opera is somewhat a Norwegian-based equivalent of Firefox, with Internet Explorer being the long-running product of Microsoft.
I’m interested in trying something new. How much can I expect to pay for these other options?
Nothing. A key point of browsers is that they are free.
Introductions aside, I’ll be reviewing each of these browsers in more depth later in this educational series, as well as covering a few of the key benefits of modern browsers that you may not be aware of. Stay tuned!