To put it bluntly, all major browsers are fast, secure, feature-laden, and free, though each one has a distinct personality, and technology makeup. What’s not to like? What comes after the Golden Age of Browsers? Change.
Open up almost any webpage with Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome, or Mozilla’s Firefox and you’re likely to see the same thing.
Each of the major browsers uses a different engine which may account for the visual and performance differences.
Google’s Chrome is the most used browser on earth with a large percentage of users on each platform; Mac, Windows, iOS, Android OS. But Google uses a WebKit fork called Blink, and a few other proprietary components.
Mozilla’s Firefox has suffered in recent years as Chrome’s growth has skyrocketed, though it remains popular on desktop and notebook PC browsers. I love Firefox for the vast library of add-ons; not equaled by Safari or Chrome.
On traditional PCs Microsoft’s Internet Explorer reins supreme but continues to bleed marketshare to Chrome, and has almost no presence whatsoever on mobile devices.
Allow me to skip over Opera as I discussed that browser earlier.
What’s interesting about the four major browsers– Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari– is their different personality (though all render web pages well) and numbering schemes.
Internet Explorer is at version 11.x, while Safari on my Mac is version 7.0.6. As if in a race to see which browser can reach version 100 first, Firefox is at version 31 while Chrome is at version 37.0.2062.94. Crazy, right?
Browser versions just are not what they used to be. Each new point version would bring major features. Today, Chrome and Firefox are updated incrementally, often every week, and often automatically.
For example, Flash is installed on Chrome for Mac, but not on Safari for Mac, and not on Firefox (the plugin must be downloaded and installed). Also, browser makers have yet to agree to support the same audio and video file formats, with each adding or supporting proprietary components as well as web standards.
That failure to agree on a basic, standard implementation smacks of the proprietary ownership which brought the likes of DirectX and proprietary browser extensions of yesteryear. My fear today is that three classes of browsing are emerging– Google’s version in Chrome, Apple’s version in Safari, and Firefox, Internet Explorer, and other browsers which are losing marketshare.
For now, though, this Golden Age of Browsers benefits users and websites and may continue as long as each browser maker doesn’t go too far in a different and proprietary direction.