The selection of web browsers has become more bewildering due to the proliferation of browsers and the increased frequency of browser updates. What will make it easier to choose between them is to be aware of four conditions: popularity, web engines, key features and performance. Read more about these conditions on how to select a browser at the end of this page.
Your final choice will probably be decided by which one you prefer subjectively rather than by objectively comparing feature by feature. It is relatively easy to switch web browsers provided that you are not dependent upon unique features or specific add-ons. I suggest that you install more than one web browser so you have an alternative if you strike any problems with your preferred browser.
[Doakio Editor's Note: This article was restored from Gizmo's Freeware archives as a service to the freeware community. Gizmo's Freeware provided high-quality, volunteer freeware reviews for decades. They shut down in July of 2021.]
Google Chrome The most popular, fastest, secure and standards-compliant browser
Mozilla Firefox A popular open-source web browser well-known for its add-ons
License: Free (Open source)
Internet Explorer The oldest mega browser bundled with Windows
Opera A refreshing web browser that is fast and efficient
Maxthon A light and fast web browser with some distinctive features
How to Select a Browser
Most Popular Browsers
The most popular browsers globally are Google Chrome, Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Opera with about 95% of the online market share and Chrome has half of that. StatCounter's graph of the top five desktop and tablet web browsers for the last five years or so illustrates the decline of IE and the rise of Chrome.
Chrome and Firefox tend to lead the pack technically for two main reasons: strong application support and compatibility with many platforms (Windows, Apple OS and iOS, Linux and other Unix-like operating systems including Android). These browsers also have a range of variations built on the same engines. For Google Chrome this can be quite confusing because the web browser code which Chrome is based on is called Chromium. You will see that there are several other browsers built from the Chromium code-base.
Most Popular Web Engines
If you are having problems with the engines in your web browser then one way to resolve this can be to choose another web browser that uses different engines.
The four main web browser layout engines being actively developed are displayed in Table 1 in order of age. I have omitted the fifth major web engine in use, Presto which is used by older versions of Opera. You can also view a more detailed time-line graphic.
Chrome + IE Tab
Mozilla Firefox + IE Tab
SeaMonkey + IE Tab
K-Meleon + IE Tab
|Chrome (to v.27)|
Chrome (to v.27)
|Chrome (to v.27)|
Engines: T = Trident; G=Gecko; W = WebKit; B = Blink.
C = Chromium project which is the base browser which Chrome is built on top of. You can compile the Chromium source code to build your own Chromium browser.
1 Blink engine is a fork of the WebKit engine. Chromium-based browsers are gradually moving to Blink.
2 Opera also runs on Linux before version 15 but uses the now discontinued Presto engine which is not included in this table.
3 Safari is only available on Apple systems so it is not included in this article.
4 Non-English browsers not included: Chinese – BaiduTW, GreenBrowserT; Russian – AmigoW, UranCW, YandexB
5 Text-based browsers not included: ELinks, Links, Lynx. Minimalistic browsers not included: Dillo.
Due to modern advances and competitiveness, all of the major web browsers share similar, and what I would call, essential features. Examples of these features are; tabbed browsing, privacy browsing, password manager, download manager, searchable address bar, and cross application syncing. The individual browsers may use different names for their respective features but the functions are basically the same. The reviews will attempt to highlight the key elements of each browser to help you decide which browser may be best for you.
Wiki Comparison of Web Browsers compares web browsers in several categories. For a web browser to be classified as Mega, it must compare to IE, Chrome and Firefox in all similar categories.
You can use these tests yourself but be aware that they won't tell you how well the browser suits the way that you work. That is why I recommend that you select your browser based on the features that you use because there is not as much difference between the performance of the main browsers. If you decide to test browsers yourself then be aware that your particular combination of hardware, software and browser configuration will affect performance. So your results may be wildly different to other people's benchmark results.
If your hardware is very limited then you should refer to the lightweight web browsers which require less resources.
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