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Best Free Mega Web Browser | Gizmo’s Freeware Archive

Introduction

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.

This page covers Mega Browsers. You might want to check out our reviews on Lightweight Browsers and Specialised Browsers.

[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.]

Rated Products

 

Google Chrome The most popular, fastest, secure and standards-compliant browser

 
 

License: Free

Supports multiple operating systems, frequent & silent updates, built-in flash and pdf viewer, large selection of extensions, cloud printing, now has a 64-bit Windows version.
Getting slower, newer version has some backward software compatibility.

Read full review…

 

Mozilla Firefox A popular open-source web browser well-known for its add-ons

 

License: Free (Open source)

Simplified interface, competitively fast, broad cross platform support, very secure, sync & panoramas, thousands of add-ons, excellent website compatibility, large developer community.
Doesn't play well with Adobe Flash Player.

Read full review…

 

Internet Explorer The oldest mega browser bundled with Windows

 

License: Free

Amazing speed, minimalistic interface, pinned sites, improved web standard compliance, download manager with malware protection, tracking protection, hardware acceleration, good OS integration.
Tab handling not as good as others, limited extension support, not as cloud friendly, no cross platform syncing, Windows only.

Read full review…

 

Opera  A refreshing web browser that is fast and efficient

 

License: Free

Fast, feature rich, cross platform support, tab stacking, web standard compliant, built in mail & torrent client, extension & themes support, visual tabs & mouse gestures, Opera turbo, account syncing.
Limited Extension gallery, key features layered in extensive menus.

Read full review…

 

Maxthon  A light and fast web browser with some distinctive features

 

License: Free

Small footprint, fast, true cloud sync across devices, split screen view, custom skins, cloud push, cloud download, resource sniffer, dual engine (but only useful for compatibility).
Inadequate tab functions. The core is still lagging some technologies of bigger browsers.

Read full review…

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

Most web browsers create web pages by using software called a web engine. Many of these web engines or layout and rendering engines, as they are also named, are used by more than one browser. This software combines the mark-up content (HTML, XML, SVG, JPEG, PNG, etc.), the formatting (CSS, XSL, etc.), and the scripting (JavaScript) to display it on your screen. Typically a web engine uses a JavaScript engine to process JavaScript instructions. Taking the WebKit engine as an example, it has two components: the WebCore layout engine and the JavaSciptCore engine.

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.

 Mega Browsers

 

 Lightweight Browsers 

 

 Specialised Browsers 

Table 1 – Current web engines

Trident
(1997-now)

Gecko
(1998-now)

WebKit
(2003-now)

Blink1
(2013-now)

Microsoft Windows
Internet Explorer
Chrome + IE Tab
Mozilla Firefox + IE Tab
Maxthon
SlimBrowser
Avant Ultimate
Avant Lite
Lunascape
Sleipnir (v.4+)
SeaMonkey + IE Tab
K-Meleon + IE Tab
Mozilla Firefox
Waterfox
Comodo IceDragon
Avant Ultimate
Lunascape
PaleMoon
SeaMonkey
K-Meleon
Chrome (to v.27)
Maxthon
Comodo DragonC
TorchC
SlimBoat
Avant Ultimate
Lunascape
Sleipnir (v.3.5+)
Konqueror (v.4+)
EpicC
SRWare IronC
Midori
QtWeb
QupZilla
rekonq
xombrero
Chrome (v.28+)
Opera2 (v.15+)
Sleipnir (v.4.3+)

Apple OS

Mozilla Firefox
Avant Browser
Classilla
Safari3
Chrome (to v.27)
Maxthon
Torch
OmniWeb
QtWeb
iCab
Chrome (v.28+)
Opera2 (v.15+)

Linux

Mozilla Firefox
IceWeasel (Debian)
GNU IceCat
TOR Browser
Classilla
Gnuzilla
IceApe (Debian)
Chrome (to v.27)
Maxthon
QtWeb
Qupzilla
surf
Uzbl
Web
xombrero
Chrome (v.28+)

Notes:
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.

 

Key Features

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.

Performance

There are two aspects of performance: compliance with web standards and speed of processing. There are standard tests for benchmarking the performance of your web browser. The best known are benchmarks like html5testacidtests and Octane but there are several others. They primarily test the compliance of the browser's HTML layout and the processing speed of the JavaScript engine.

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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