Browsing for Browsers: How to Make the Right Choice
With all of the talk about new technology, new mobile devices and applications, and new models for designing and managing data centers, it can be easy to overlook very basic questions. What web browser are you using? What browser should you be using? Do you even know what a browser is?
Don’t laugh. Ask 10 people what a web browser is and you’ll probably get a handful of entertaining answers.
A web browser is software that connects to the Internet and enables you to access and view web pages and files. The first web browser, WorldWideWeb from Nexus, was released 25 years ago. Other early browsers include Mosaic, Netscape Navigator, and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE), which recently celebrated its 20th birthday with a fairly substantial drop in market share.
According to Net Applications, 51.6 percent of Internet users worldwide used IE for desktop browsing in September 2015, down 7.5 percent from December 2014. Google Chrome has reached an all-time high in browser market share at 29.9 percent, while the 11.5 percent share for Mozilla’s Firefox represents its lowest number in nine years. Apple’s Safari checks in at 5.08 percent.
In the workplace, the IT manager will typically choose a web browser based upon certain criteria and install it on every company-issued device. They’ll consider the browser’s performance, or how quickly it can open a web page. Other factors to consider include compatibility with critical business applications, design and customization options, and employee preferences.
Due to IE’s somewhat checkered history caused by security issues and unnecessary add-ons, Microsoft is replacing it with Microsoft Edge in Windows 10. Edge is said to be faster, more secure and more modern-looking than IE. While Edge is certainly a more stripped-down browser with fewer features than IE, it does have newer features that have raised eyebrows.
Web Note is a new tool that lets you “write” on websites using a virtual pen or highlighter. You can then add a personal note, sign your name, and share it with a coworker. No other browser offers this functionality. Edge also enables you to create a Reading List so you can save web pages for later reading. The Reading List includes a headline and photo for each item and appears above bookmarks and favorites.
However, Edge has yet to support extensions that let you add services and features to a web browser. Extensions are supported by Chrome, Firefox and Safari. Even more shocking is that Edge’s page load times are a full second longer than its predecessor, although IE is faster than its top competitors. The slow speed is due in part to more advanced security features, and Microsoft claims that Edge will eventually be faster than IE could ever be.
Each browser has its pros and cons. Chrome is known for speed and security, and the options to browse privately and customize the dashboard. Firefox is known for the simplicity of its user interface and the ability to learn preferences and suggest relevant content. Opera, a relatively new browser, is known for its speed and bandwidth efficiency. Safari is known for delivering the best possible experience for Mac users. It’s too early to make a call on Microsoft Edge, which is only available on Windows 10 and is likely to see dramatic improvements in the next few months.
As elementary as web browsers may seem in the grand scheme of things, it’s important to choose a browser that is best suited for certain use cases within your organization. Let ICG help you determine what exactly you need from your browser and choose options that help your employees do their jobs better.