Saturday, May 9, 2009

Which Browser Will You Choose?

We use web browsers every day. Most of you are probably using one right now! There are so many to choose from so obviously I cannot compare them all. I have taken the 5 most popular ones and listed out the pros and cons. This comparison refers to the latest stable release unless otherwise stated. Safari 4 Beta is reviewed rather than Safari 3 because the main download of Safari on the website is version 4, not 3.

Which browser will you choose? The blue e, the fox hugging the earth, the blue compass, the colorful orb, or the red O?


Microsoft Internet Explorer 8.0 (Windows only)

  • Accelerators. Highlight any word or phrase, search that term right away through the special menu.
  • Web Slices. More than just RSS Feeds.
  • Domain Highlighting
  • inPrivate Browsing
  • inPrivate Blocking: Possible to block certain tracking elements such as some ads
  • Faster than older versions and on some pages, other browsers
  • Malware and Phishing Filters (SmartScreen Filter)
  • Large collection of add-ons, toolbars, accelerators, and more at the IE Addons site
  • New Session Mode. Two sessions do not share cookies so you can log on to multiple accounts
  • Relative Tab with Colors
  • Search Suggestions with images and description in some cases
  • Tab Showcase
  • New Tab Page
  • Passes Acid2 (last major browser to do so)
  • Session Store (finally!)
  • Isolated Tab Environment
  • Easier Add-on Management
  • Built in Source Viewer (finally) with tag colors rather than one using Notepad
  • Nicely designed RSS Feed viewer
  • Much faster than previous versions
  • Quite slow on cold starting up, but browsing is quite fast
  • Tabs take a bit longer to load
  • Main target of hackers
  • Following older IE versions, update cycle is slow including patching critical security issues
  • Too tightly integrated with operating system
  • Fails miserably at Acid3
  • ActiveX rather than plugins (all other browsers use plugins and ActiveX have many security risks)
  • Add-ons are All Users rather than Single User. Requires Administrative Privileges
  • No Download Manager
  • No Download pause and resume

Mozilla Firefox 3.0 (Windows, Mac, and Linux with variations available for other platforms)


  • Fully open source
  • Easily modify the configuration through about:config
  • King of customization. Fully customizable with a collection of over 5000 add-ons and themes at Mozilla Add-ons: Anything from ad blocking, script blocking, site rating, file hosting download delay time skipping to domain highlighting. Whatever you want. There’s a good change, someone made an add-on for it. Want to make Firefox look like IE, Chrome, Safari, or something completely random? Maybe there’s a theme for it!
  • Instant Web ID. With one click on the favicon, all the page’s security info can be viewed.
  • Phishing and Malware Filters
  • Multi-Platform and Platform Look and Feel
  • “Awesome Bar” searching bookmarks, history, and also makes “smart” website decisions when typing a term: Autocomplete and Tagging
  • Library of Bookmarks and History. Tag Bookmarks to easily search
  • Smart Search Keywords. Assign keywords to search engines (like a simple w to wikipedia), then type in w and then your term into the location bar to search. Works like the Omnibar in Chrome.
  • Inline Spell Checking
  • Session Restore
  • Set individual settings per site, such as cookies, image loading, Javascript, etc…
  • Instant Find and Quick Find
  • Elegant Autoscrolling and Smoothscrolling
  • Available in 60 languages (Even more being added!)
  • Windows only: Automatically scan files with your anti-virus software
  • Easy to use download manager with pause and resume
  • Very fast update cycle. One of the fastest in patching security holes.
  • Easy to use download manager with pause and resume
  • Error Console
  • Passes Acid2
  • Firefox 3.5 only: Private Browsing


  • Does not pass Acid3 Web Standards test yet (3.0 scores 71/100 and 3.5 scores 93/100)
  • No zoom percentage counting. Only Zoom in, Zoom out, and Reset.

Apple Safari 4 (Windows and Mac)


  • Elegant new tab page
  • Looks like correct platform (Windows looks like Windows)
  • Drag and drop tabs with visual eye candy
  • Toolbar colors change with Windows Aero color (Windows Vista and Windows 7)
  • Minimalistic interface. Looks like Google Chrome but with an option to show menubar if needed
  • Coverflow for Bookmarks
  • Snapback: Go back to search results page
  • Collections Library: History, RSS, and Bookmarks
  • First Browser to feature Private Browsing
  • Passes Acid1, Acid2, and Acid3 Web Standards Test
  • Malware and Phishing Filter


  • Requires an abnormally large amount of system resources especially video (for Coverflow despite the fact that iTunes coverflow works fine on old hardware). This may cause major lags with the visual effects. Safari 3 was much lighter on system resources.
  • Many text forms fail to submit.
  • No zoom percentage count

Google Chrome 1.0 (Windows only. Mac and Linux pending)

  • Currently the fastest stable release browser available.
  • Like all Google Products, simplicity.
  • Easily drag and drop tabs
  • Isolated Tab AND plugin Environment
  • Omnibar saves space although searches take a bit longer
  • Incognito Window (Private Browsing)
  • No obtrusive download manager.
  • New Tab Page showing recent pages
  • Easily create application shortcuts
  • Powerful DOM Inspector built in
  • Bookmarks Manager
  • Malware and Phishing Filter.
  • Mostly passes Acid2
  • Chrome 2.0 only: Drag a tab to the side and it will attach to side (like Windows 7 Aero Snap).
  • No RSS Feed Support in current version.
  • Editing text fields often fail to submit properly: More common that in Safari.
  • No native plugin support.
  • No extension support.
  • The download statusbar is hard to use if you're used to other browsers. Previously, download stops when closing tab. Luckily, this doesn't happen anymore. However, download continues in the background with no indication of the status unless you press Download from the menu.
  • No download pause and resume
  • Sends data with unique ID back to Google. Not optional.
  • The domain highlighting puts emphasis on domain AND sub-domain, which defeats the purpose of it.
  • No Autoscrolling (middle click scrolls up and down)- Introduced in v2.0
  • No Full Screen Mode. Yes the toolbars take up very little space, but still. - Introduced in v2.0
  • Does not completely pass Acid2 test pixel by pixel. Small artifact to the left.
  • Does not pass Acid3 yet.
  • No option to show menu bar, even if you want it
  • No zoom percentage count.

Opera 9.6 (all platforms)
Note: Not all features mentioned here are available for all versions especially on portable devices


  • Elegant Special Effects
  • Two default themes: Opera and Windows Native
  • Tab Previews (Mouse over tab)
  • Panel Sidebar with buttons for History, Bookmarks, Widgets, etc…
  • Widgets: Little Gadgets showing various information
  • Closed source makes it one of the most secure browsers
  • Built in mail client and IRC Chat
  • BitTorrent Downloading integrated
  • Trash can to reopen closed tabs, restore notes, widgets, etc…
  • One click detailed site info including downloaded time, cache file, security, number of elements, scripts, and more
  • Detailed element loading status on URL bar
  • Many community created themes to choose from to change Opera's appearance
  • Wand: Autocomplete not only Passwords but Forms too
  • Rewind and Fastforward. Go back to first or last page visited on tab
  • Speed Dial. Instant Access to 9 selected sites
  • Useful Mouse Gestures
  • Error Console
  • Identify as another browser like Firefox and IE. Tricks various scripts that identify browsers however this does NOT run as another browser engine. Its still Opera
  • Passes Acid2.
  • Opera 10 only: Passes Acid3
  • Malware and Phishing Filter


  • No add-on support at all. Not likely to receive them either.

The following chart is a comparison of some major features built in. Does not include add-ons that can add the feature. Refers to latest stable version except for Safari.

IE 8 Firefox 3 Safari 4 Chrome 1 Opera 9
Domain Highlight Yes No No Yes No
Private Browsing Yes Firefox 3.5 Yes Yes No
Phishing Filter Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Malware Filter Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Acid2 Pass Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Acid3 Pass No No Yes No Opera 10
Session Restore Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Download Manager No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Add-ons Yes Yes Mac only No No
Themes No Yes No No Yes
RSS Feed Yes Yes Yes No Yes
You’ve seen 5 of the most popular browsers. Now, which one is your favorite. Cast your vote below!

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