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One browser is not enough

By Jean-Claude Elias - Aug 14,2014 - Last updated at Aug 14,2014

Have you found your perfect web browser? I haven’t so far. Chrome, Internet Explorer (IE), Safari, Firefox, Opera, I like them all, and yet…

My browser is dear to me for it is the window I have to open wide to see the web, the world, hence its importance. It cannot be overestimated. For a long time I remained faithful, exclusively, to Microsoft’s IE to do my web browsing. Being a Windows user I try, as much as possible, to use Microsoft products for maximum comfort and compatibly with the main operating system. It’s just plain common sense.

However, at one point in my living with IE a colleague convinced me to move to Chrome, the browser that Google launched in 2008. I was immediately attracted by the interface and by the speed of Chrome.

In parallel I kept on experimenting with the other browsers, namely Opera, Safari and Firefox, including the mobile versions of all existing browsers. I was driven by the need to know more and to be able to compare, so as to choose the best, and also to find my way around the browsers used by my friends and clients who work on various platforms, from Apple products to Samsung mobile devices.

To cut a long story short, for indeed a comprehensive comparison of all browsers would be a long story, it is virtually impossible today to opt for just one browser and to live perfectly happy with it. It is not only the comparison per se that is hard to do, but there’s also the fact that what may be true today may be false tomorrow, given the changes in software, the updates and the elusive aspect of Internet security.

I’ll stick to a few examples to illustrate the above and I will also keep it down to the two major browsers, Chrome and IE. It is not a coincidence that these are the two browsers I use, at least in my Windows environment.

There is no doubt that Chrome is fast, but recently it has become “randomly” incompatible with many sites, in particular those that deal with online banking. Moreover, if you are going on Microsoft sites, they would often display pop up screens telling you “This site is better viewed with IE”. You can’t blame them for that, after all IE is their baby; they have to promote it!

To make our life even more miserable, not all browsers treat plug-ins equally. Java plug-in (by Oracle) for example may prove hard to install on one browser, whereas doing it with another browser would be a breeze.

I always check my Gmail using Chrome; it’s fast and foolproof. If I want to play the nice and easy crossword puzzles I find on the site of USA Today Chrome often crashes. I still haven’t found out why. With IE, however, the site never crashes. 

On the other hand I found excellent ad blockers for Chrome; easy to install and efficient, blocking more than 90 per cent of the annoying ads. I have yet to find the same kind of plug-in for IE.

By keeping Chrome and IE and by moving from one to the other, depending on what I may be doing on the web, I got close to an ideal solution, better than just a dull modus vivendi. This being said it takes some time to find out what kind of web activity is better done with this or that browser, but this is how life with IT and the Internet is about.

Statistics about browsers usage in the world are impossible to express in simple form. This is because usage varies depending on what consumers are exactly doing through the browsers: running online applications, doing online shopping, web search, gaming, etc. For instance one given user may do his online banking with IE whereas he would switch to Chrome when it comes to searching for information. Apart from the fact that Chrome and IE certainly are the two big contenders, capturing between them some 70 per cent of the market, there are no conclusive figures.

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