If you’re someone who lives more in the online world, you’re sure to have heard of or participated in the eternal battle of the browsers – IE vs. others. If you’re a new denizen of the World Wide Web, you would want to know which browser best suits your online needs, but chances are, you’ve already been warned off Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. This is not just because of IE’s poor track record as a browser, but also no concrete changes being made to newer versions, despite Microsoft one of the biggest players in the market. So, we decided to debate why newer browsers are much more preferable when compared to IE one by one so as to make your choice easier for you.

For starters, here are the top reasons why IE is the least preferred browser by techies and non- techies alike:

  • The most virus prone browser – IE has come under repeated attack for being THE browser likely to attract all kinds of viruses, Trojans, spyware and adware. And newer versions have mostly done nothing to combat this.
  • User-unfriendly – And if newer user-friendly features are added with every version release, these are treated as redundant because other browsers that came before have preempted the user's requirements better and earlier.
  • Web designers have found problems with IE’s design all too frequently to be ignored.

You’d think something would be done by Microsoft to address these kinds of complaints. But what’s really happened is other players have acted on this, leaving behind IE in the virtual dust. Here are other browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari) and why users prefer them:

  • Safety – The brains behind these browsers have understood that a net user’s first concern of his online habits is safety and privacy. All three browsers come with a very high level of protection against most viruses and spyware known to online mankind.
  • Usability – These browsers have made online navigation a pleasure with easy keyboard and mouse shortcuts that are easy to memorize and recall.
  • Easy to use interface – Designers have listened to the complaints about IE’s design, thereby rendering these browsers with very attractive interfaces that appeal to the design community.

Despite these staggering comparisons, however, IE still rules the roost in terms of user numbers, though we wouldn’t go so far as to call it ‘the popular choice’. We’ve discussed some key features of the 4 most competent browsers that are standing up to the IE monopoly of the Internet, because we believe they deserve more visibility, and hence, higher usage.

Mozilla Firefox: This open source web browser known for questioning IE’s monopoly and bad features is also the most preferred browsers of techies, virus-phobic netizens and design enthusiasts. It currently gets around a third of IE’s share and around a quarter of worldwide users. It adheres to the current web standards and also supports add-on features that the standard ones might require in the future. Some of the noteworthy features include tabbed browsing, spell check, live bookmarking, private browsing, download manager, and an integrated Google search engine. It supports all operating systems and has given the internet surfer reason to rejoice with each new version.

Google Chrome: Google’s very own browser, ironically released as a beta version for Windows in 2008, gets its name from the graphical user interface frame, “Chrome”. It currently supports Windows but development versions for Mac OS X and Linux were released just a few months back. Its market share is on the upswing and is expected to grow exponentially in the coming months, with users hailing it as the most speed efficient of all browsers.

Apple Safari: Developed by Apple Inc., and integrated with the Mac OS as the default browser, this browser has been in the race from 2003 and has its loyal user base. It also is the default browser on iPhones. Since 2007, it also supports Windows XP and Vista.

Opera: Developed by the Opera Software Company, this browser enables easier browsing and multitasking on the web. It’s free for personal computer and mobile phones, but is a paid-for browser for other devices. Features include tabbed browsing, mouse gestures, page zooming and an integrated download manager. Security features are enviable, featuring built-in protection against phishing attacks and malware, strong encryption and the option to delete private data easily. It supports most computer operating systems and has a pride of place as being the innovator of many popular user features of current browsers. Despite this, share-wise, it is used by a very small fraction of the internet audience, though it is the preferred browser for mobile phones.

Last but not the least, Mozilla's latest offering, Flock, a beta release, is a social networking browser that neatly compartmentalizes your online habits into feeds, networking, mail and media. Studies show that the evolved user is slowly navigating away from IE, which is losing a chunk of market share to the other players with each passing year. Not to be left behind, Microsoft released IE version 8 recently that has added private browsing to its list of features, but, the argument still stands. Innovation is key, not delayed cloning. And as far as Microsoft sticks to its old formulas, the virtual world will continue to swim over to competition. Worthy, might we add.

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