What Web Browser Should I Use?

What browser you use is both a personal choice, and a technical choice. It is also important to understand the differences between them both on the surface and “under the hood”.

There are currently 4 main browsers on the market, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. They all have various advantages and disadvantages and features that are both relevant to the end user, and to the people whom maintain websites.

The internet is written in a special language called HTML, this language combined with several others makes all the animations, images, sounds, and text that you see and have come to know as the internet. Each browser, understands and interprets these elements slightly differently and sometimes not as the original author intended. This is what makes choosing the right browser important.

The first thing you should know is that the web is a constantly changing and evolving place, and old browsers are just not equipped to handle this ever changing environment. That’s why it’s important to stay up to date. If you are a Google Chrome user, then this is all done automatically for you, so you are always up to date. The newer versions of Firefox does this to, however you can always check by going to the Firefox button in the top left corner -> help -> about, it will tell you what version you have an if you need an update.

Safari is updated on windows using a tool called Apple software updater that usually runs automatically but can be invoked from the start menu and typing Apple Software Updater, and choosing it from the list on windows 7.

Finally Internet Explorer can be updated through Windows Update.

Most websites will not support older versions of browsers, this is especially true of Internet Explorer which has limited support below Internet Explorer 8.

The next thing you should understand about browsers, is how well they support current web standards. Much like there are standards for how buildings are created, or how food is handled, the web has standards also. These standards are created by an organization called the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) and are guided by people around the world.

Google Chrome, and Safari both use the same underlying engine called webkit, this engine has excellent support for web standards, and is constantly evolving. Firefox comes in a close second, and only falls short in areas such as video. Internet Explorer 9, is the first browser from Microsoft to really embrace standards.

Why is this important for me?

Standards make the web dynamic, useable, and accessible to everyone, and allow such things as Facebook to have chat, and youtube to stream videos without needing flash.

Piggybank strongly recommends using Chrome, or Firefox, as they are both strongly supported and updated regularly, however if you choose to use Safari, or Internet Explorer always insure that you are using the latest version. NOTE: Safari for windows has lost support and is no longer being updated.

Resources

Mozilla Firefox – getfirefox.com

Google Chrome – google.ca/chrome

Apple Safari – apple.com/safari and http://support.apple.com/downloads/#internet

Internet Explorer - http://windows.microsoft.com/en-CA/internet-explorer/download-ie