I'm not a computer guru. Though I'm interested in computer programming and web applications, I'm just one of the common surfers like most of you. Many of you have heard of the buzz of new browsers and wonder what's what. So todayI would like to briefly tell you about those web browsers. These are all my opinions and could be proven wrong.
Web browser war restarted
In the late 1990's. The dominance of Microsoft Internet Explorer(MSIE) was obvious. I though the web browser war had almost come to an end. But now there are at least two great apponents are there for MSIE. FireFox and Opera.
So what's the what?
MSIE 6.0 Service Pack 2
MSIE comes with your Windows. You don't have to search for it or download & install it. Hassle free, isn't it? I don't know whether the underlying architecture of MSIE is great or what, it just doesn't provide many features to end users. As far as I know, if something is easy that means you're losing detailed controls of it. MSIE is easy, well Microsoft Windows itself is easy to use but doesn't allow you many things to tweak. What I felt about MSIE when writing html pages for my own homepage, "It just work as I expected (no matter it's syntactially correct or not)" That's why many websites that are only tested on MSIE don't work well with other browsers. This could be a strong point or a week point. Well, at least the end users of MSIE would be happy, because they can view web pages that are written wrong. The second problem is, that it's too old. MSIE doesn't support today's rising new features like RSS or Transparent & Alpha channel PNG. I don't know why Micrsoft doesn't provide upgrades to this quickly as a patch. (Though they are planned to be added in MSIE 7)
Currently, Opera is my choise. I'm using Opera 9 (Techknowlege preview). I've been using Opera since Opera 3.X. Back to then, Opera was quite clumsy. It didn't support DHTML so only static old html pages could be rendered properly. It was super fast but I couldn't use it for my everyday surfing for many web sites didn't work with it. Now its version is 8.5 (stable) and it became a freeware (thanks to FireFox). Opera supports many new technolodges and standards. In fact, W3C seems to recommend it. ( I saw Opera's banner on their web site) I think Opera is the first web browser that provides so popular tabbed browsing. (Now many web browsers adopt it) You can navigated super fast with mouse gestures. You can quickly check and write e-mails with its built-in email client. RSS? No problem. There's a built-in RSS aggregator. Hassle free! The beauty I most like is, its full scale zoom feature. If you use MSIE there are only five size for text. Even if you use FireFox you can only zoom texts. But with Opera, the whole page is zoomable just as you expected. I just loved this since Opera 3.X. I think you'll love it too.
Opera doesn't support ActiveX or Extension. But it provides many features which can only be available through extensions on FireFox. Some people say this makes Opera secure, for any extensions or ActiveX could become a security hole. Yes there are many sites from which you can't take full advantage of if you don't use MSIE. For example, if you're using Opera you can't compose HTML e-mails at HotMail. even this Blogger site doesn't provide formatting features when using Opera (so I'm writing with MSIE right now.) Therefore you can't completly throw MSIE away, but for most common web sites Opera works fine and gives you great flexibilities.
Actually I don't know why there are such a great buzz on FireFox. Many download sites show FireFox as a featured application. And many user reviews are just alluring you. I've tested FireFox 1.0.7 but now I'm back to Opera. FireFox seems to support standards well but I think Opera supports more new technolodges. Plus, FireFox is slower then Opera. First, the main menu pops up slow as if a Java application.
If you want something, then you should install extensions. FireFox itself doesn't provide many features. Of course there are many extensions. Some are very useful and musts. But on the other hands, searching for the extesions you need could be laborious.
For web developers, FireFox could be a great choise. When I was creating my homepage, FireFox's "Source code for current selection" or "Current elements CSS (extension)" was very helpful.
MSIE is not removable (technically it is but that will cause many problems). But why not give a try to Opera or FireFox. For all you know they could turn out to be your favorite browser. If you are a just a average web surfer not interested in html try Opera. Almost everything is prepared for you. If you're interested in html authoring or making your own browser extensions go FireFox. As for me, I'm happy with Opera now.