We are constantly using our web browser, it’s one of the most frequently used applications on any computer, so we need it to be stable and quick. Sometimes though, things start to fail and we get frustrated. When things get ugly we just move on to the next one, perhaps even back to the one we used to use, to see if it has gotten any better. Fortunately, there are plenty of browsers out there to choose from.
I test out a lot of browsers but tend to find myself using either Firefox or Safari the most when I am not reviewing one. I actually had a good run with Internet Explorer for a while, up until I started to experience issues with certain web applications failing. These web application failures only happened when using IE and it was an app that I used on a regular basis.
While looking at web browser statistics, I was quite surprised to see StatCounter showing IE in the lead. I thought for sure that Firefox or Chrome would top the charts but IE is still quite dominant. It’s easy to see how a pre-installed web browser on the world’s most popular OS could easily grab such a large percentage of users and while many may have installed a second browser, they continue to use IE as their default browser. I’m not saying that IE is unusable but it needs a lot of improvement. In fact I prefer Internet Explorer’s UI over most, but the stability issues that plague my applications are just too much.
I basically consider four major factors when choosing a browser, stability, speed, simplicity and security. I like my browser to more or less, stay out of the way. I want the content to be the main focus and I like a clean interface that has only what I need and nothing else. An ideal browser should be fast and reliable, unexpected crashes and failure to load specific, media rich content are major decision factors for me. Security needs to be strong, especially if you use online banking and or shopping.
Here is a recent snapshot of the top 5 browsers from 2011 to 2012.