Monday, November 3, 2008

Chrome Rekindles The Browser War !

The excitement of the browser war never ceases - at least for those of us who try to stay abreast with the latest browsers in hope that with each new product and each new version, the average netizen will have a larger basket of goodies at his disposal ! And these "goodies" are not hard to come across - with Google's Chrome, Firefox 3 and IE beta 8, all loaded with features that might change the way we know and access the WWW.

The usage share figures above say it all. Piggybacking on it's Windows OS, Microsoft's IE still commands the largest market share. My apologies to all IE users - but guys... its high time that you DO move on to better options :)

Not only does the browser war keep the net users hooked but it provides ample scope for discussions, articles and benchmarking on numerous tech websites out there. A notable mention to CNET's Prizefight ( which pits IE7, Firefox 3, Google Chrome and Safari against each other on the following parameters:

  1. Speed
  2. Security
  3. Customization
  4. Killer feature

Needless to say, Firefox wins hands-down in Security, Customization (you didn't think anyone could even come CLOSE to that huge add-on library, did you ?) and killer feature (that's again customization).

Google's Chrome has been touted as the fastest browser around and there are third party tests which prove so. However, there's more to Chrome's blazing speed than meets the eye. Google Chrome has a significantly faster "page rendering" mechanism because of its Javascript engine which speeds up client end processing. So at the end of the day, if you have a below average net connection (not very difficult to find in India), you end up noticing (if you reallly notice) only a marginal improvement in Chrome as compared to, say, Firefox 3.

Safari and Opera (which was left out of CNET's test) are definitely better options than IE, but both of them lack that "one USP" which Firefox (customizability) and Chrome ("blazing" fast) have to offer.

Firefox is, without any doubts and questions, the big daddy of all browsers out there. Call it Mozilla's gift to mankind and it won't be an overstatement. Installation is a cakewalk, security patches are always on time and they really mean it when they say that you can make Firefox "your own" ! Although, if I had to be really nitpicky and find ONE fault with Firefox, that would be the memory usage (which CNET conveniently seems to have ignored), which could shoot over the roof with those add-ons and extensions all loaded at the same time. So think twice before installing an add-on to see if the value it delivers is worth the RAM that its gonna eat up.

Amidst the biggies vying for market share, we have a lil kiddo called "Flock" which brings a smile to those social-networking addicts amongst us. With a delightfully seamless integration of social networking, mail and browser into one neat package, Flock is a welcome product which could change the way we look at browsers in the future.

That brings me to my final '2 pennies-worth 'thought on the market leader - Internet Explorer. Now, I don't mean to sound biased or anything, but if I had to give ONE advice to the IE team, it'd be - "WAKE UP!!" Going by a few features of IE 8 Beta, Microsoft seems to have woken up a bit but they need to gulp down a mug of hot coffee, come to their full senses and see where the competition is heading. IE, as a browser, takes the last place in ease of installation, adherence to open standards, ease of updation and frequency of security updates. It doesn't score too well on customizability either, especially considering that it is best placed to use Microsoft's advanced technologies like Windows Presentation Framework (used in Vista) for some really neat UI effects. IE 8 Beta looks promising but in no way would it prove to be the brahmastra that'd stop Firefox from eating into IE's share. IE is all set for a plunging market share unless Microsoft comes up with an orbital shift in its design and feature offering!

Till next time... Cheers !

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