Why the browser wars are important to you

Why the browser wars are important to you

Summary: In this off-topic post, I explore (no pun intended) the five major browsers and why you should care about them.

TOPICS: Browser

No one really makes any money from browsers, and there are no bad ones in the top five contenders for your attention. So why should you care about the browser wars or who wins? There are some compelling reasons for caring, and some really compelling reasons for choosing one browser over another. I also give you my opinion of each along the way, along with my wish list for the ultimate browser that doesn't yet exist.

The five most popular browsers are:

  • Chrome

  • Internet Explorer

  • Firefox

  • Safari

  • Opera

Just an FYI, so that there's no argument about it; I use Chrome. I use Chrome on my PCs, my iPhone, my iPad, and on my Linux systems. It is the one browser that I use across all platforms. Do I use others? Yes, for certain things, I use Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox. My main, go-to browser is Chrome.

Don't misunderstand my motivation for using it. Chrome has its problems. It crashes often on my Windows 7 system, it kills my CPU, and sometimes, it stops responding for no reason at all. I use it because it's fast and less cumbersome than other browsers for everyday use.

I'm also not trying to convince you to use one browser over another. I have to use multiple browsers, so I assume, maybe incorrectly, that everyone else does too.

The reason that I have to use multiple browsers on my Apple products is that there are elements that Safari doesn't display correctly or at all, so I happily use Chrome. I have also tested other browsers on the iPlatforms such as Atomic, Secret, Apollo, Puffin, and a few others to find that perfect browsing experience. So far, not so good.

I have to use multiple browsers on the PC platform because some applications work better under Firefox and some don't work at all under Chrome. Internet Explorer is the default browser on most of my day job servers, so I use that too. Sometimes, even at home, I use Internet Explorer because some sites and applications just don't render correctly under Chrome.

What's most remarkable to me is the usage statistics for browsers on Wikipedia from January 2013. I'm a bit surprised by the dominant browser choices in some areas. Assuming that the writer's statistics are correct, I'm shocked that Google's Chrome is the dominant browser in Latin America and in Russia. It also appears to be dominant in other European countries and in India.

What surprises me is that all of these countries are huge fans of open source software, which would make me believe that Firefox would be the dominant browser choice. Browser choices have swung significantly, again if you believe the numbers, from just two years ago.

I found a site that provides statistics for a number of application usages, called Statcounter.com. Here are the browser usage statistics for 2013 so far. Chrome is in the lead on a worldwide basis. However, for the same period, the statistics look very different for the USA, where Internet Explorer is the clear leader.

Some companies have chosen to support browsers on their sites by user preference. For example, the international energy news site IHS focuses on Internet Explorer and Firefox support, and gives compelling reasons why they do.

Of course, there's also the freedom fight from the European Union that I think only the leaders of the EU care about. The freedom fight I'm referring to is the ongoing Microsoft beatdown and lawsuits over browser choices. Currently, they've fined Microsoft about $730 million for not giving a choice of browser. The concept of doing that is just silly. Why should Microsoft supply you with a choice of browser?

Does Audi supply the choice of using Mercedes seats in its cars as a choice? No. It's just plain silly. Does McDonald's offer you the choice of Burger King fries or Wendy's shakes with its meals? No. Again, silly.

You have browser choices on every platform and operating system. There's no point in beating anyone up about it. Safari is the Apple standard, so is the EU suing it because it doesn't supply a choice of browser, too? Several Linux distros supply Firefox as the default browser. What is the EU going to do about that?

I think the EU needs to focus more on stabilizing its currency/currencies rather than worrying about which browser comes standard with the operating system it uses. Perhaps they're trying to stabilize their currencies with Microsoft's dollars. I digress.

My ultimate browser would certainly have the speed of Chrome, the safety and security of Opera, the module support and stability of Firefox, and the site rendering capability of Internet Explorer. It would support HTML5, Java, ActiveX, and JavaScript, but not Flash.

I call my ultimate browser, Journey. Isn't that awesome?

It would support modules/extensions dynamically. It would load its extensions as they're needed, and then unload them when they're not. Journey would also work on any platform or operating system.

So the browser wars are important to you because you have a choice of which one or ones to use. It's a matter of freedom of choice. For me, it's a matter of necessity. Since I work in the IT industry, I have a need to use multiple browsers. I choose to use Chrome, but not exclusively. Your browser of choice will influence your internet experience. It might also endanger your system or prevent you from viewing certain content. But you have a choice of which browser to use, and in that battle, you're the winner.

What do you think of the browser wars? Do you think that we need more than one browser? Does it matter that Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox are all standard issue on different platforms? Talk back and let me know.

Topic: Browser


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • You left out a bit.

    People beat up on MS not because the give you a browser.

    It is because you cannot replace it.

    With Mac or Linux distributions, there is no problem with removing a default browser and putting one of your choice there.

    With MS you can't remove it... Oh you can hide the icon, but it is still there.

    If you actually delete the library module that is IE, the system crashes...
    • Then you are doing something wrong...

      Then you are doing something wrong...
      • Using Windows is Wrong

        Thats the problem.

        Win8 is lousy, IE integration into the OS is definitely wrong!
        • Does that include

          Safari's integration into MacOS or Konqueror's integration into KDE?
          • Oh

            And Chrome browser integratyion into the Chrome OS?
        • Errr

          Reading your biased comments are also definitely wrong!
      • no.

        The problem is that Windows uses the IE internals to display error messages and prompts. If it isn't there, it crashes.
    • Can't Replace it!?!?! Really!?!?!

      Have you tried opening IE and doing one of the following two Bing searches?

      1. Get chrome


      2. Get firefox

      Both of those will get you a download link to the respective browser as the first result. Download, install, start and when Chrome or Firefox, or whatever it is you like asks if you want it to be the default, click on "yes" and you are done.

      Yes, IE is still on the machine at this point. But its easily removed and no I don't have the time or inclination to explain how.
    • You can replace IE with any browser.

      There's no reason to delete it as you can hide all shortcuts to it. If you changed the default browser if you click a link the browser you name as default comes up. So IE is very easy to not HAVE to use.
      • Sane

        Most if us who care get a non IE browser, say "yes" to the make-default question and go on with our work.

        We do not think The Blue E is mocking us.

        If you do, you may need help. It's only an icon to a program you don't use.
    • Assuming that this is true (which it isn't. You're a Liar)...

      WTF is the point of completely uninstalling the default browser other than to have a reason to complain?
      • reclaim disk space.

        Make more available for use.
        • Reclaim disk space?

          Yeah... I need that few megabytes back on my 3 terabyte drive.
          Hallowed are the Ori
        • If you cared about the disk space you wouldnt DL a second browser

          ... and one that uses more resources less efficiently at that.
    • You have to have a permanent default

      How are you going to download your new browser without a browser. If you then delete the old one and something happens to your boot leg browser when youre putting all these add-ons on and you have to revert what do you do then? Are you keeping a disc around somewhere that has a super old install of chrome on it or something? Or are you having to DL it with another device and transfer it over? all sounds like alot of hassle versus keeping a few files in the background that you never have to see.
      • Once the preferred browser is downloaded and installed...

        ...the only things IE is good for are MS update and whatever IE apps you might have on your computer. My policy has long been to automatically accept any and all IE updates, but otherwise leave it alone once Firefox is installed.
        John L. Ries
        • Sounds reasonable

          I think the people arguing above want to eliminate all trace elements of IE. Im not entirely sure why. If you dont want to use it then just dont. Maybe its a slap in the face to those who dont want it but have to sit around knowing in the back of their mind that the product still exists on there drive somewhere.
    • You can replace it

      With any browser of choice. The fact that you can't delete a few dll's is not a concern of any reasonable person. After all, that unreasonable person isn't forced to use Windows in the first place and should therefore stop making an utter fool out of himself.
    • No, the system does not crash when you remove IE!

      What an absolute idiot!!!
      Ian Easson
      • idiot is someone that doesn't know the difference in disabling and removing

        Disabling and removing are different things, ask Microsoft they will explain it to you.