Popular Web Browsers
The web is a collection of a huge amount of information. Every single web page consists of some information and also a number of links, which connects us to other related web pages. To visit the linked web pages, just click over the linked text and the next web page opens up.
Just like a word processing application is needed to open a word processor document, an application is needed to view an HTML document. To view a web page we need special software called web browser. Mosaic was the first web browser developed by National Centre for Supercomputing Application (NCSA). This browser didn’t have any special features like present day web browsers. It was not possible to view pictures or use any present day font formatting features in the web pages. Initially, the browsers were designed to show plain text, without any formatting.
With the increasing use, the need to incorporate additional features like text formatting, viewing images, playing sound, etc. was felt. Most modern day browsers incorporate all these features. Some other commonly used browsers are Netscape Navigator, Mozilla FireFox, Opera, Safari, MSIE (Microsoft Internet Explorer), etc. Almost all of these support a common set of rules of the language.
Firefox is a very popular web browser. One of the great things about Firefox is that it is supported on all different OSs. Firefox is also open source which makes its support group a very large community of open source developers. Firefox is also known for its vast range of plugins/add-ons that let the user customize in a variety of ways. Firefox is a product of the Mozilla Foundation. The latest version of Firefox is Firefox 3.
Some of Firefox’s most prominant features include: tabbed browsing, a spell checker, incremental find, live bookmarking, a download manager, and an integrated search system that uses the user’s favorite search engine. Like mentioned before, one of the best things about Firefox is its vast amount of plugins/add-ons. Some of the most popular include NoScript (script blocker), FoxyTunes (controls music players), Adblock Plus (ad blocker), StumbleUpon (website discovery), DownThemAll! (download functions), and Web Developer (web tools).
Internet Explorer (IE - created by Microsoft) is a very prominant web browser for the Windows OS. IE is the most popular web browser. It comes pre-installed on all Windows computers. The latest version of IE is IE7 with IE8 in beta. IE was designed to view a broad range of web pages and to provide certain features within the OS.
IE almost fully supports HTML 4.01, CSS Level 1, XML 1.0, and DOM Level 1. It has introduced a number of proprietary extensions to many of the standards. This has resulted in a number of web pages that can only be viewed properly using IE. It has been subject to many security vulnerabilities just like Windows has. Much of the spyware, adware, and viruses across the Internet are made possible by exploitable bugs and flaws in the security architecture of IE. These are were drive-by downloads come into play (see computer security lesson for more details on that).
Safari (created by Apple) is a very popular web browser among Apple computers. Safari is also the native browser on the iPhone and iPod touch. Safari is available for Windows, but has not reached a very high level of Windows users since. In May 2008 Safari controlled 6.25% of marketshare among all web browsers.
Opera (created by the Opera Software company) is another fairly popular web browser. It handles common Internet-related tasks. Opera also includes features such as tabbed browsing, page zooming, mouse gestures, and an integrated download manager. Its security features include phishing and malware protection, strong encryption when browsing secure web sites, and the ability to easily delete private data such as cookies and browsing history. Opera runs on Windows, OS X, and Linux.