1) Firefox RC 4
2) Google Chrome
3) Opera 11
4) Apple Safari 5
5) Microsoft Internet Explorer 8
I am slightly biased when it comes to Firefox, as have been an avid user for years. This latest release, has the browser going into Chrome territory, with a very minimalist look. But where Mozilla has it right, is where within 30 seconds, a user can locate how to add that menu bar to the top of their page. Also, Firefox is known for the thousands of add-ons that can be used on the browser. Everything from news-tickers to colour-pickers. Also Firefox is still customisable, with the user being able to select a skin for their browser, again with thousands to choose from. This new version is taking Firefox back into the forefront of the browser-battles. It runs a lot smoother and faster than previous versions.
Chrome, like Firefox, is very fast. But it loses out when it struggles on sites which contain video, it becomes very glitchy, and this can happen when the browser deals with anything Flash. I feel that Chrome is over-simple, where there are no options to add a basic menu bar, which is handy when you have to appeal to people like my parents. Maybe there are options, but after half an hour of playing around, I can’t get the standard menu bar. It seems like Chrome is shunning the older web community, who may look for the familiarity of that File, Options, etc all at the top. Even IE has that. You can be as fast as you want, but usability should always be number 1 priority.
Opera, used to be on my Nokia mobile, which I think is where it is strongest, on mobile platforms. It brings everything up ok, but lags slightly behind Chrome and Firefox in regards of speed. The layout of Opera 11, is very similar to that of the new Firefox. It is clean, but not too basic, and you can easily add more options to the menu if needed.
Safari is different from the other browsers, in that the standard browser comes with a toolbar up and ready to go, with the user being able to easily further streamline the browser, or add basics, like the menu bar. The one thing I do want to mention about Safari is that when you open up a new tab in the browser, a selection of most popular sites visited pops up. It makes it easy to find certain websites, which I feel is a nice touch. It runs slightly slower than Opera, but people familiar with Apple software, will find comfort in the stylings of the browser.
And IE. Poor IE. I am running IE 8, because I don’t have the newest version of Vista or Windows 7, so I can’t download the RC for IE9. I don’t know if having the newer version would make any difference, but I hope it would. IE took several minutes to load, before it shut down. On second attempt it did start up ok, but was very slow compared to the other browsers. As basic as IE comes, it is very easy to add, or take away toolbars and menus as you require them.
But one thing to be said, is that all browsers are beginning to look the same. This is mostly due to the high success of Chrome and it’s simplistic layout. I know that I seem to have focused on finding the menu bar a lot, the reason is because I know older people (like my parents) who rely on that toolbar, because it is there in whatever software they are using. So when it is taken away (Chrome) they do get a little lost. And I know that is why they stick to IE, because they know their way around it.