Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Which Internet Browser?

If you're fed up with Microsoft's domination of the browser market and want to experience new features like tabbed browsing before Internet Explorer 7 hits the streets, then here's a round-up of some of the more popular alternatives available and the ones that I have on my system...

Firefox Apple CompatibleLinux CompatibleWindows Compatible - Easily the next in line of succession in the browser wars, this has everything going for it - extremely fast page rendering, tabbed browsing, loads of extensions, popup blocking, RSS feeds, integrated search bar, anti-spyware, virus checking and its got the coolest icon. It's my default browser these days and, being open-source, you can get versions optimized for G4 and G5 processors and there's even a portable version.

Safari Apple Compatible - Safari is the browser that accompanies all variants of Mac OS X. It comes with tabbed browsing, popup blocking, RSS feeds and integrated search bar. It's an excellent browser without doubt but it suffers from compatibility and display issues with some web sites. e.g. I managed to lock myself out of my online bank account using it.

SeaMonkey Apple CompatibleLinux CompatibleWindows Compatible - If you were one of those people that used to use, or even still do use, either Mozilla or Netscape because they came with built-in mail, newsgroup and html editing support then look no further. Official development on Mozilla has been stopped but it being open-source, a group of developers have taken the Gecko engine based code further and produced SeaMonkey, a tabbed brower, mail & newsgroup client, IRC client and web page editor all in one. Well worth investigating.

Camino Apple Compatible - Camino is yet another open source Mozilla project but it is specifically written and optimized for Mac OS X using the Cocoa environment. It comes with tabbed browsing, annoyance and popup blocking, Spotlight integration and enhanced security features.

Shiira Apple Compatible - Shiira is another fast, Cocoa based browser written and optimized for the Macintosh. It's also open-source and uses the same WebKit rendering engine as Safari but it has a few nice features that make it worth checking out. They've even got a Dashboard widget version for the more gadgetty minded.

Opera Apple CompatibleLinux CompatibleWindows Compatible - Opera has been around a long time. It started out as a commercial browser, then they offered an additional free but advert ridden version but now they've seen sense and it's now free and advert clean. It's a decent, well used browser and worth looking at. It includes pop-up blocking, tabbed browsing, integrated searches, and advanced functions like E-mail, RSS Newsfeeds and IRC chat.

I'm a Macintosh user so I'm afraid the bias is towards Mac browsers but I've indicated Linux and Windows comptibility where relevent. The above selections are only my choices and there are many more browsers available, especially for Windows and Linux. So what of the other well known names that seem to be missing here?...

Microsoft have stopped development of Internet Explorer for the Macintosh and no longer offers it for downloading. The current 5.2.3 release has fallen far behind the others and has compatibility issues with some web sites so I wouldn't recommend using it. Most Windows users will, no doubt, upgrade to version 7 when it becomes available and Windows Vista will almost certainly have it built-in.

Mozilla Mozilla is no longer being developed and the company is focusing on Firefox as its main browser product. If you still want the functionality that Mozilla provided, then SeaMonkey is well worth looking at.

Netscape Netscape was my favourite browser for a long time, well at least it was until they released the bloated and bug-ridden version 6 and it still has to prove it's worth after that disaster. Version 8 looks better and comes with tabbed browsing, RSS feeds, spyware and adware protection but it looks like they've dropped the integrated mail and HTML editing, etc. Development on version 8 for Macintosh doesn't seem to be happening so confidence isn't high that this will ever be a serious contender.

And of course, there are dozens more but those above are the most well known of the pack.

Originally posted to The Jumbled Box on 3/2/2006.

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