The latest battle in the “browser wars” is in full swing thanks to the launch of three new products — Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9, Mozilla’s Firefox 4 and Google’s Chrome 10. Each new browser aims to be your Web navigator of choice. But how do you know which is right for you?
Firefox 4, which set a record for software downloads with 8.75 million in the first 24 hours it was available, is being praised as a marked improvement over previous versions. “The best Firefox yet? Undoubtedly,” said Gary Marshall at TechRadar.com. He cited “a new user interface, dramatically improved tab management, excellent sync and, of course, promises of vastly improved performance,” which he said Firefox 4 delivers.
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9, which clocked 2.4 million downloads on its launch day, “is easily the best browser that Microsoft has produced to date,” according to Jim Rapoza at InformationWeek. The browser “is an excellent upgrade, with welcome improvements that make it a solid choice for surfing today’s Web.”
It should be noted, however, that Windows XP users will not be able to enjoy IE9. The browser is only compatible with Windows Vista and Windows 7 – perhaps another subtle move by Microsoft to get people to upgrade their operating systems.
The dark horse in all of this is Google’s Chrome. The browser lags far behind Explorer and Firefox in terms of market share, but the release of Chrome 10 has some support, like ZDNet’s Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, calling it “close to a perfect Web browser.”
“The latest version of Chrome, just out, is amazingly fast. I mean it’s knock-your-socks-off fast,” he said. “A perfect 10? No, not quite, but closer than anyone else out there for now.”
So, which browser do you choose? Barry Collins at PC Pro believes that because IE9 is stingy with the operating system support, the title of best new browser comes down to Firefox 4 and Chrome 10.
“That leaves you with an enviable choice: Google Chrome if outright speed and performance are a priority, or Firefox 4 if a more fully featured browser is what’s called for.”
Still, writes Seth Rosenblatt at CNET, IE9 “is fast and highly usable, and even enjoyable to use. It might not be enough for die-hard fans of other browsers to switch, but IE is now a respectable choice on the browser market.”
But perhaps the most powerful factor in determining the right browser is, according to Greg Morgan at Geek With Laptop, “that most underrated quality of them all — the browser they have used before and are most familiar with.”
Chad Vander Veen is the former editor of FutureStructure.