Browser War: Who Rules the Web?

By Binu Paul, SiliconIndia   |   Thursday, 28 April 2011, 14:53 Hrs   |    10 Comments
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Browser War: Who Rules the Web?
Bangalore: The decades old browser war is heating up again. The beginning of the browser war can be traced back to late 1990s when Microsoft's Internet Explorer replaced Netscape's Navigator as the browser king and to the emergence of a new bunch of browsers such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera and Safari. The question over what is the best web browser has been debated over and over again but it never gets settled as each updation from a browser invites another from the rival and the game goes on and on. Microsoft has recently announced the launch of Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) and many believe that with this, Microsoft has once again made a strong come back to the browser game with a competitive Web browser. Although Internet Explorer remains the most-used browser today, its share of usage has been steadily diminishing as the new browsers took up the key to innovation. The recent releases and upgrades have intensified the completion. While on March 8, Google released Chrome 10, Microsoft released Internet Explorer 9 on March 14. Mozilla was quick to release its Firefox 4.0 on March 22. According to the December 2010 report by StatCounter, Firefox 3.5 was ranked the most popular browser when counting individual browser versions, passing Internet Explorer 7 and 8 by a small margin, but not more than two months later IE 8 had regained itself and established as the most popular browser version. The latest report by StatCounter indicates that Internet Explorer holds 45 percent of the global market share, Firefox comes second with 30 percent, Chrome 17 percent, Safari 5 percent, and Opera 2 percent. The speed element has become the central point in the browser world with each search engines gives utmost importance to the speed of the JavaScript engine. While Firefox 3.6 has TraceMonkey, Firefox 4 relies on JagerMonkey. Chrome uses V8, IE9 has Chakra and Opera's works with Carakan. With these special tools and specific names, the browser's are taking speed to a new high and many of them are seven times faster than they were just a year or so ago. Safety has been a concern for the internet users and all the players in the browser market have been trying to offer the best measures for safe browsing. IE9 has come up with SmartScreen filters which will run web pages containing suspicious downloadable attachments through a database of all known programs and websites to keep the users protected from online criminals. Google has also developed a real-time alert system that prevents users of its Chrome web browser from downloading malicious materials. Chrome does this with the help of the database from its Safe Browsing API. According to a research done by NSS Labs, an independent security product testing and certification organization, Internet Explorer was ranked the safest browser with 69 percent catch rate against Malware. Mozilla Firefox came second with 30 percent and then comes Apple Safari with 24 percent. Plug-ins and extension play a big role in users selecting browsers. Firefox continues to dominate here with the most extreme API that allows for a verity of extensions and plug-ins, with many having their own sub-extensions. However, Safari has a similar API to Chrome and Opera is working on a similar JavaScript-based plug-in framework. The next level of browser war is unpredictable as the players constantly try to bring out the faster and safer browsers with a whole lot of interesting features. As a matter of fact, the difference between the browsers is gradually narrowing and it will be a tough task for the users to pick the best browser.