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Browsers Battle – Who wins?

Note – The delays caused are greatly regretted. It was mainly due to power cuts that I couldn’t finish off the article 3 days earlier. There have been constant power cuts from the 27th March. 3 cuts each day, each lasting 1 and a half hour. Hope that you will understand.

Nowadays, most of us depend on Internet for everything. We store all our sensitive information on the cloud, use social networking and email to remain in touch with our near-and-dear ones(though, in hindsight, we really need these tools for those who are not so near – no offense). Your office files, on which your life depends, are on their to your boss through Gmail. We all use our favorite browsers to browser through this very essential part of our lives. You are probably using the browser you use all day to read this post. So, why not make your life better by choosing a better browser? Read on to find out which emerged out as the best browser.


The most popular browsers on the market are Google Chrome and Mozilla FireFox. People may also like Opera, Apple Safari and the good(is it?) old Microsoft Internet Explorer(IE). “If you have to choose IE, choose IE9, otherwise choose any from the others.” – this is the advice any intelligent person(including me) has been going on giving. Is there any truth in this statement? Is IE really this bad? You’ll get the answers by the end of this article.

Download the Browsers Battle PDF.  View the Excel file(much better, using Live Office) here.

To get the matters straight, I used the following browsers:

These were installed with apps, extensions and had a bit of customization along with everything being “synced”:

  • FireFox 4(stable release)
  • Google Chrome 10.0.648.204(stable version)
  • Google Chrome Canary 12.0.714.0(canary version)

These were without extensions or apps or customization:

  • Safari 5.0.4(7533.20.27)(stable version, though I’m not sure if Apple releases a public beta version)
  • Opera 11.10 Beta
  • Internet Explorer 9(the one which has a thing or two to prove)
  • Chrome Portable 10.0.648.151(stable version)(comparable to Google Chrome – both versions – without apps, extensions et al)
  • FireFox 4 RC 2 Portable(comparable to FireFox 4 normal version without apps, extensions et al)

There’s no best browser on the market, but one or the other may be the best for you, while it may be useless for someone else. Here’s a rundown of each browser:

FireFox 4

To say from an user’s point of view, if you want the most(just not fastest) fastest browser (with apps installed or not), go for FireFox 4. It has turned it’s main(at least for me) weakness into it’s biggest strength. It is, my friends, speed. It goes without saying, that although my ratings may say otherwise(I took into consideration many things at once), if responsiveness and speed are your lookouts, rest assured, choose FireFox 4 and you’ll not be disappointed.

Strengths – Speed, speed, speed and just the sheer number of add-ons and extensions(although many may not be compatible with FireFox 4, which comes with major architectural changes). 90% customizability(may even be 100%, but it seemed to be a bit too much to put 100%). Two of the vital things in everyday (or otherwise) surfing.

Weaknesses – None I can think of. If you have one, please tell me in the comments.

Verdict – Choose this one. This is coming from a person who has never liked FireFox, and was a die-hard user of Chrome since it was first released in public.

Chrome(stable or Canary)

I’m not going to devote another rundown on Canary as it has the same architecture with a lot of extras, which still hasn’t entered development(dev) stage. So, it’s basically Chrome Dev with some more features. Other than for a few(may be a lot more) features, but with the same architecture, they will have a lot of things common.

Chrome stable is a bit slower than Canary version. Tab switching is better in Canary. Everything seems either better or exactly the same in Canary, when compared to the stable version.  You can check the ratings, which show this very fact. This is expected, as Canary is a more recent version of Chromium.

Strengths – Speed, speed, speed, speed(there’s a reason why speed is repeated one more time than FireFox 4). It’s speedier than FireFox 4. There’s a lotta extensions and apps(though 99% of them are just picture bookmarks) are present for installation in Chrome Web Store. There’s a social feel to it, with ratings and reviews by other fellow users. And there’s always the minimalism, which was started off by itself and Safari, which other browsers are trying to copy, but are not being able to as efficiently.

Weaknesses – Apparently, none. But sometimes(for me, at least), it acts cranky and I find FireFox much more consistent. When I open a link in a new tab, it just doesn’t allow to scroll easily as I would like to. This is the reason I am giving a hard look at it, and seriously considering to switch.

Verdict – If I am given a choice, I would choose FireFox 4 over Chrome. Again, I may choose the Canary version(but not the stable version). It all comes down to a personal choice and your own user-experience. Generally, these 2 browsers are the ones to go for.

Safari

To say the truth, I don’t know much about Safari. But, it seems it comes a distant(maybe not quite so?) third (the top spot being shared by Chrome and FireFox 4, wait a little for the 2nd spot). It may be the IE9 of Mac OS X. But it shares it Webkit engine with Chrome, and it’s quite a cool looking browser.

Strengths – I’m not much entitled to say anything good or bad about Safari(other than seeing the specs). Enlighten me more in the comments, and I’d update the article with a link to your blog. It shares the Webkit engine with Chrome, but is a little off-the-pace when compared with both Chrome and FireFox. And, it’s the best looking web browser of all.

Weaknesses – There’s no weakness as such in it. But it’s mediocre performance means it drops to third. Is it the browser? Am I wrong in my opinion? Tell me in the comments below.

Verdict – I wouldn’t go with it, unless you need the coolest looking browser by a large distance. Refer to the comments below. It’s also by Apple, so open-source fans won’t be very happy.

Opera

Opera is the dream of geeks. It has the coolest features, a year or 2 before they become mainstream. But there lies it’s fault. It creates a niche market, but doesn’t try to make the features(and with it, itself) mainstream.

Strengths – A web server, torrent client, music streaming service, email client and other cool services directly built-in. Oh, did I forget, it can surf the web too! No other browser incorporates so many innovative features a full year or 2 before they become mainstream(they may never turn out to be mainstream). It downloads web-pages faster and reduces the load on your bandwidth by using Opera-Turbo.

Weaknesses – Although it’s not a fault of Opera, many websites don’t support it, especially banking sites and java-enabled sites. This shows that it’s not yet mainstream.

Verdict – You may use it to surf, but don’t rely on it for the oh-so-important money transfer. For it, keep an updated version of IE ready(covered later).

Internet Explorer 9

IE9 is a major update on IE8. If you must use IE, use IE9.

Strengths – Other than the fact that it is supported by every website(even if it doesn’t support FireFox or Chrome), there’s not much in store. It can add extensions, which it’s earlier version couldn’t.

Weaknesses – No weakness as such, but everything is below-average or just-about-average.

Verdict – If you use banking sites a lot (and different sites, at that), you should keep an updated version of IE(preferably 9). Nothing other than it, actually. Don’t fall for Microsoft’s aggressive marketing policy.

Chrome Portable and FireFox 4 RC 2 Portable

The most popular browsers’ portable versions to be put on the USB drive and used on the go. Takes a lot of less RAM and time to start up and operate. You can install extensions too.

Other than it being portable(and RAM and startup times), everything is similar to the desktop versions.

STATS-TIME(click image to enlarge)

You can compare Chrome Portable and FF4 Portable to be desktop versions without extensions (I didn’t install any on these).

Cold Starts

Chrome Portable wins this time. Other browsers were a mixed bag.

Warm Starts

Chrome Portable bags it again.

 

 

RAM usage

Unsurprisingly, the portable versions of Chrome and FireFox are good in both the tests. Among the desktop siblings, Opera fared quite well. And “oh my”, IE9 does really well with 1 tab open. Maybe, Microsoft’s using the advantage of native app? But it all goes down the drain when 5 or more tabs are open.

 

 

 

The Most Important criteria – Surfing times

Both Chrome stable and Canary get the upper hand here, though by not much. An interesting thing to note is that MUO takes a long long to load.

 

 

 

 

Customizabitily

Here no one has the right to beat FireFox. Here’s what I think:

  1. FireFox 4 – 90% customizability(could have easily been 100% if it supported just 10% of the now unsupported add-ons. Still, I wasn’t sure whether to give it a 99%, 95% or 90%). Whatever the case, FireFox blows away the opposition when it comes to customizability.
  2. Google Chrome(both stable and Canary) and Opera – 75%. You can add a lot of extensions to Chrome, which is all good. But it doesn’t have the power of a complete user-oriented makeover, which FireFox posses. Opera, along with its extensions aka widgets, also has an email client, web server, torrent client and much much more. This ensures that it shares 2nd spot with Chrome.
  3. Safari – 60%. It loses out due to the sheer number and variety of Chrome extensions and apps, and the absence of Opera-esque “special innovative features”.
  4. IE9 – It’s still early days yet. It could have easily overcome(or shared the 3rd spot) Safari if it’s notorious manager didn’t disable many extensions on it’s own. But time may fly away, and we may be seeing a browser with 100% customizability which beats FireFox. It’s the most widely supported browser, isn’t it?

Conclusion – The different browsers are for the different types of people. If ultra-fast surfing is your mantra, go with Chrome. If customizability and consistent performance along with super-fast surfing(but just not ultra) are your lookouts, you will be happy with FireFox 4. Opera is for the true geek in you, who craves for the most innovative features at a very early stage. Safari is for you people, who love and live fashion, those who like to use only the coolest(at least in looks). And IE is for the overtly money-oriented people who have multiple accounts on multiple banks, and don’t spend even 1 day without using the web to check all their accounts.

My personal preference/choice?

I have used Chrome a lot. I have learnt to live with it. But with the arrival of FireFox 4, I am preparing (mentally and dataly – a new word meaning data-wise) to switch to it. Chrome Canary may be the better one, but I can’t make it my default browser. Therein lies the catch. So I’ll be using 4 browsers – Chrome stable, Canary, FF4 and Opera.You are free to choose your own.

What do you think of these  browsers? Which one do you like the best? Take part in the poll and share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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3 responses »

  1. Nice review, very informative, Fireox 4 got included Firefox sync (http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/mobile/sync/), WebGl (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebGL), OpenType (for scalable computer fonts)…Do Not Track ()But this is a world of challenge and soon other Browsers will bring new additives and prosperities.

    possible to try AcidTest 3
    http://acid3.acidtests.org/

    and also spped javascript execution, but this can differ from machine to another.

    Reply
    • I could have included Acid 3, Javascript, CSS and other benchmarks. But as a user, do you care how much they score on these? You care about the page-rendering, and that is included in the PDF and Excel file. Basically the same thing, from a user’s point of view. Thanks for your feedback. Please take part in the poll.

      Reply
  2. I switched to Google Chrome from Firefox about a year ago. I’m never turning back.

    Reply

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