When it comes to choosing a web browser, most people opt to use the one that is already installed on their computers’ operating system. However, there are many other options available especially for laptop and desktop users. Some of the top five web browsers available are Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari. Among the available operating systems, Microsoft Windows is the only one that can support all five web browsers.
Today, the default browsers in most operating systems have similar basic features; they are fast, have neat interfaces and supportive features such as bookmarking, and are compatible with a wide array of sites. However, each web browser has its own unique applications. To compare the major web browsers we will look at differing features such as privacy tools, hardware acceleration, and HTML5 Web markup standard.
HTML5 Web markup standard
When it comes to offering HTML5 support, Google Chrome tops the list according to the HTML5Test.com score. It is followed by Firefox, then Opera, Safari and lastly, Internet Explorer. For the longest time, an Adobe Flush plugin was used to support web video playing. However, the recent trend replaces the Adobe plugin with HTML5 video. Different browsers have adopted different formats for this purpose; Internet Explorer and Safari have adopted the H. 264 codec, which is the most widely used HD video format. Opera, Firefox, and Chrome are using Google’s new, but unproven format, WebM.
Internet Explorer 9 introduced a hardware acceleration feature that uses the graphics processor of your PC to increase the speed of different browser actions. Afterwards, Google Chrome and Firefox implemented similar hardware acceleration features. However, the one featured in Chrome only boosts performance with certain graphics cards. Safari hardware acceleration is only featured in the Mac browser version. Opera is yet to implement this turbocharging application.
Each browser has taken different approaches to privacy. Internet Explorer’s Tracking Protection was the first privacy tool. This feature enables users to subscribe or sign up with block lists that prevent the access of ad networks that try to share information about a user’s browsing habits. Firefox followed, offering a header tag labeled Do Not Track. Safari, Opera, and Google Chrome have yet to feature any privacy tools.
Interface is one of the most unique features of each web browser. However, most browsers, including Opera, Chrome, and Firefox, are taking the “less is more” approach for their interface.
b) Chrome 18: Strong HTML5 support. Fast browsing and hardware acceleration. Malware and sandboxing warnings for excellent security. Good tab implementation. Customization with extensions. Syncing for preferences and bookmarks. Instantaneous prediction of sites and loading. Built-in PDF reader and Flash player.
c) Opera 11.60: Faster loading with Turbo feature even for slow connections. Minimal interface. Numerous extra capabilities. Live tiles feature on start page. Linux and Max versions available. Built-in BitTorrent and mail clients. Syncing for history, bookmarks, settings, and passwords.
e) Safari 5.1.2: Fast and appealing browser with enticing Reading List and Reader view. Excellent HTML5 support. New-tab pages are vivid. Strong RSS reader and bookmarking features.
a) Firefox 12: Lacks helpers for new-tab page. No built-in PDF reader, Flash, or page predictions like Chrome. Lower HTML5 support than Chrome. Lacks IE9’s tracking protection.
b) Chrome 18: Lacks “Do Not Track” feature. Experiences small site incompatibilities. Hardware acceleration not compatible with all graphics cards.
c) Opera 11.60: Trails Firefox and Chrome in extension gallery. Some sites do not support the browser. Lacks “Do Not Track” application.
d) Internet Explorer 9: Incompatible with some sites. Only works in Vista and Windows 7.
e) Safari 5.1.2: Trails in tracking protection and hardware acceleration.
A Personal Overview
Our favorite browser is Google Chrome! With experience using all the major browsers, we kept going back to Chrome for its speed, interface, and features. Our next favorite is Firefox, but we got frustrated with its constant lag when you have multiple pages up. Safari is a bit frustrating because of its lack of important features compared to Chrome and Firefox. Internet Explorer is our least favorite mainly because it doesn’t work on Mac and because a lot of sites come out funky in the browser.