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Photos: Top 10 alternatives to Internet Explorer

When you leave Redmond, where do you go?
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By Jo Best on
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1 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNet

When you leave Redmond, where do you go?

So, you've been together a long time but your head's being turned by what else is out there and you fancy trying something new... Yes indeed, many a web browser user has decided to ditch their old faithful relationship with Internet Explorer and take a look at what the competition has to offer.

Here's silicon.com's round-up of the best of what other browsers are on the market, starting with Maxthon.

Maxthon may remind you of your ex a little - it's built on the IE engine but boasts a shed load of nifty features of its own including a search bar that finds search terms in the web page you're viewing (shown here) as well as in search engines. It also boasts a pop up blocker and a content filter that lets you do away with Flash ads.

One of its more interesting features is its use of the mouse: dragging and dropping a word, for example, searches for that word in a new tab, while holding down the right mouse button and drawing a small line will get the browser to go back or forward, depending on what direction you move your mouse in.

Photo credit: silicon.com

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2 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNet

Another IE shell browser for those not wanting to stray too far from Redmond is Avant.

For those with their head in the clouds, Avant can store all their favourites, passwords, RSS feeds and a whole lot more online, allowing users to access them from whatever machine they're using.

The browser also sports some noteworthy privacy features. On one hand, users can store all their passwords, address details and so on in the browser (shown here) allowing it to fill in forms automatically; on the other, Avant has a records cleaner, which lets users erase auto-complete passwords, history and recently typed URLs.

Like Maxthon, Avant allows users to cut out the bits of websites they don't like, like Flash animations, sounds or ActiveX components. It also lets you get rid of a tab you don't want with a double click.

Photo credit: silicon.com

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3 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNet

Firefox is not so much an alternative to IE, rather it's the only serious competition Microsoft has.

The open source browser, first introduced in 2004, now has around 20 per cent of the browser market and its maker, Mozilla, has recently released both a new desktop and mobile browser - Firefox 3.0 and Fennec respectively.

Firefox 3.0 packs in a number of handy one-click tricks - including instant bookmarking, which comes by clicking on the star icon at the end of the address bar, and one-click security information, by clicking on the 'favicon' before the URL (shown here).

Customisation is also one of Firefox's strong points, thanks to its large and active developer community, with all manner of add-ons including parental control suites, security programs and sidebars to be had. If you don't like the look of Firefox, you can also dress it up with new themes - there are hundreds available, allowing you to make your browser look like anything from a spaceship to an Xbox.

Photo credit: silicon.com

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4 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNet

Another browser with a solid IE-bothering market share is Apple's Safari, no longer confined to Macs after Cupertino launched a Windows-friendly version last year.

As well as its good looks and plus points for usability - the bookmarks bar is a clever idea - Safari has all the features you'd expect including the original 'porn mode', Private Browsing, autofill for form and tabbed browsing.

It also offers a rather nifty feature called Snapback - which allows you to find the page you were looking at before you got distracted. Take Google for example - if you do a Google search, then start exploring some of the sites Google found and want to get your original search listings back, Snapback will take you straight there with one click.

Another nice touch is the bookmark organising feature, shown here, which is based on iTunes.

Photo credit: silicon.com

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5 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNet

One of the newest kids on the block, Google's Chrome - launched earlier this year - already has a toehold in the browser market, with around four per cent of visitors to silicon.com now using it.

Google has carried its traditional stripped-down design into Chrome with the feature shown here - the sandbox - which gives users a pictorial representation of the nine sites they visit most.

Chrome also boasts dynamic tabbing, where users can pull tabs out into a new window, or unite many separate windows into a single, tabbed window.

Photo credit: silicon.com

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6 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNet

Another browser that wears its style credentials on its sleeve is Camino, which its publishers describe as combining the "behavioural experience that has been central to the Macintosh philosophy with web browsing capabilities of the Gecko rendering engine".

This Mac-only browser comes from Mozilla, and is the reliable offering you'd expect from the people behind Firefox.

Features include download pause and resume, session saving for the crash prone and 'annoyance blocking' to help disable banner advertising.

Photo credit: silicon.com

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7 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNet

For social types, there is Flock, a web browser built on Firefox.

This perky browser is aimed squarely at the Facebook generation, with a social media sidebar that keeps tabs on all your web 2.0 activity - Twitter, Digg, Yahoo! mail, and so on. It shows updates to those sites right in the window - for example, your friends' Facebook status messages or new unread emails landing in your inbox.

The integration with social sites doesn't stop there. It has a built-in blog editor and photo uploader, and lets you automatically send pictures to your social networking friends by dragging and dropping them into the sidebar.

Photo credit: silicon.com

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8 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNet

Opera, which offers two mobile browsers alongside its desktop version, comes with mouse gesture navigation and a visual favourites representation also favoured by Chrome.

The latest version of Opera also boasts its own built-in mail client, Opera Mail, as well as a feed preview function - shown here - which gives you an idea of a feed's content before you sign up to receive it.

For sports fans, or the criminally impatient, there's also a feature that lets you reload a page automatically every 5, 15, 30 seconds (or at a customised interval) - useful for watching football scores or FTSE share prices tumbling in real-time.

Photo credit: silicon.com

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9 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNet

If you fancy going old school, why not experiment with Netscape Navigator, the browser that the first generation of internet users cut their teeth on?

It offers click to search (shown here), a download manager and tabbed browsing.

But don't expect loads of updates. Its parent, AOL, has decided to end support and development for Netscape and is encouraging users to go for Firefox or Flock instead.

Photo credit: silicon.com

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10 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNet

Our final offering is K-Meleon, a Windows browser based on Mozilla's Gecko rendering engine.

An open source effort, K-Meleon comes with its own ecosystem and has a load of themes, skins, toolbars and throbbers - the animated icons that move when a browser is performing action - to download, as well as a raft of macros.

K-Meleon also comes with mouse gesture navigation, pop up blocker and main and context menu customisation.

Photo credit: silicon.com

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