There was a time when many thought the browser wars were over. Thankfully, that was not the case. Thanks to the resurgence of Mozilla and Firefox earlier in the decade, computer users today have an extensive list of browsers to choose from.
We’ve rounded up them into a nice list, categorized by operating system.
Several of the bigger names in the browser world have spent time focusing on delivering their product to multiple operating systems. This helps them lead the way — in fact, many of the browsers available are built on the underlying technology of one of the big names like Mozilla or Webkit.
Windows, Mac or Linux users have the majority of these browsers available to them.
After years of no innovation in the browser space, Mozilla started from scratch — Firefox was the result. And now users have no shortage of browsers to choose from, partly due to the work of the Mozilla foundation.
Apple’s venture into this arena, Safari is fast. Originally created so Apple could remove Internet Explorer for Mac from their computers, Safari is based on open source software and is one of the fastest browsers available.
Google entered this arena and many speculated it was so they could build their operating system. With the announcements of the Google OS earlier this year, this seems to be true.
Opera is a strange bird in the browser world. It has a strong feature set and performs decently when compared to the other big names. But for some reason, it has never really caught on and sees minimal usage on any operating system.
Another project from the Mozilla Foundation, Seamonkey is the product formerly known as the Mozilla Application suite. The web browser is at the core, but it also offers an email client, IRC chat, and HTML editing.
Another browser built on Firefox’s Gecko rendering engine, Flock is aimed at heavy social web users. It has key integration features with many popular web services like Flickr and Twitter.
Thanks to the popularity of Fluid, the concept of Single Site Browsers (SSB) has gained a lot of popularity. The idea is that a lot of people were using one or more web applications all day, every day.
Rather than have those apps as just another tab amongst all the other tabs in your browser, SSB’s allow you to run your apps in their own window. This also helps when your browser crashes because you have more than 20 tabs loaded — your web app is protected in its own environment.
And Prism is Mozilla’s entry in this space.
If Firefox, Safari, Opera or Chrome don’t suit your fancy, there are other options available for Windows users. Obviously, there is the browser packaged in the operating system, and the majority of Windows users are happy with Internet Explorer.
But there are other options for users of this platform. These listed here are all based on Internet Explorer technology.
After years of inactivity, Microsoft has produced 2 new versions in the last 3 years. Although some would say they are still behind in the race, there are encouraging signs that Redmond is starting to care about web standards.
One of the earliest browsers to feature anti-phishing technology, Deepnet Explorer uses the same redering engine as Internet Explorer.
Another browser that uses the Trident layout engine, Avant is intended to offer a more useful experience than Internet Explorer on Windows.
One of the more solid options for Windows users, Maxthon supports the Trident and Gecko rendering engines. It’s next version is switching from Gecko to WebKit.
Since Apple joined in on the browser wars by dumping Internet Explorer for Mac and building their own browser, they have focused on speed and ease of use (like so much of what they do). But many Mac users don’t like Safari because of its lack of features.
Luckily, the browsers available to OS X are some of the most unique browsers available. Mac users have it good in this regard.
Built on the Gecko rendering engine, Camino was intended to be a more ‘native’ application than Firefox on OS X. And it is. Rather than use Firefox’s XUL-based GUI, Camino uses OS X’s native Cocoa APIs.
It’s a very fast option for Mac users.
Based on WebKit, Shiira was once of the most innovative browsers available. The interface offered a lot of touches that are now more common amongst Mac applications. It’s still being worked on, but seems to have fallen behind somewhat.
Another option for Mac users, iCab was one of the first browsers to pass the Acid3 test.
Stainless is a work in progress, but it’s developers have some interesting ideas. Originally intended as an experiment to mimic Google’s Chrome, Stainless is now being developed as a full fledged browser.
Stainless’ unique feature is “parallel sessions”, allowing multiple logins to the same website via cookies private to each tab or window.
Like Prism, Fluid is an SSB for OS X. It has made the single site browser concept extremely popular is used for running web apps in their own environment.
Lastly, we have the Linux crowd. As mentioned above, Linux users can use several of the more mainstream browsers that are available on other platform. But most Linux distributions have a packaged browser that more than gets the job done.
Whether using the Gnome or KDE desktops, Linux users have solid browser options as well.
A web browser and a file manager, Konqueror is an integral part of KDE. It uses the open source KHTML as its rendering engine — the KHTML that was forked at one point to create WebKit.
Intended to focus only on the web, Galeon was created early this decade as an alternative to the multipurpose options of Internet Explorer, Netscape and Mozilla browsers.
Galeon is no longer in active development.
An early descendant of the Galeon browser, Epiphany was intended for the Gnome desktop. Like Camino for OS X, it uses the Gecko rendering engine, but does not use the Mozilla XUL interface. Rather, it uses an integrated Gnome front end.
This option was built to optimize Intel and AMD processors. It is Linux only and is based on Firefox. Its purpose is to address the speed complaints aimed at Firefox.
Also built on Firefox, Swiftweasel is also optimized for certain architectures. The difference from Swiftfox is that Swiftweasel is completely open source.
Too Much Choice?
We don’t think so. Although there are a lot of options for web surfers today, we’re way better off than we were earlier this decade. And the fact is, the majority of us will use one of the main browsers anyways.
But competition is a good thing. These developers are continually working to keep up with one another — and that’s good news for the rest of us.