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Modern Browsers and the Lack of Selection

Dec 13th, 2023

Modern desktop web browsers have dramatically transformed how we explore, shop, learn, and work online. The choice of browser can significantly influence your online experience, thus it’s critical to grasp the key differences between popular modern options. We'll take a look at Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari, and Opera. What we will first note, is that 3 out of 5 of these are based on Chromium.

Google Chrome - Go-to Browser for All-round Functionality

Developed by Google, Chrome is arguably the most popular browser globally. Due to its high-speed, simple interface, and overall reliability, Chrome has widespread acceptance. It comes with security functions like phishing and malware protection. Additionally, the integration with other Google services and the vast library of extensions further enhances its appeal.

Mozilla Firefox - Keeping User Privacy First

Firefox focuses significantly on privacy, more so than other mainstream browsers. Its Enhanced Tracking Protection shields against third-party trackers. Besides, Firefox's user interface is highly flexible and customizable. Though Firefox might slow down with multiple tabs open, its private browsing mode, syncing ability, and extensive extensions make it an attractive option.

Microsoft Edge - The Emergent Contender

Microsoft Edge is the successor to Internet Explorer and comes pre-installed on Windows 10. Enhancements include a clutter-free reading mode, syncing ability with Microsoft products, high speed, and robust security features. Garden-variety among users who cherish integration with Windows 10 and Office 365.

Apple Safari - Streamlined Operation and Power Efficiency

Safari is the default browser for Apple devices. It offers a clean user interface and power-saving benefits. Privacy features are robust as it includes Intelligent Tracking Prevention. Moreover, it provides seamless integration with other Apple Services. However, the restricted availability (only on Apple devices) and limited extensions can be deterrents. It can also be a stubborn engine for page rendering, and its becoming touted as being the next Internet Explorer where developers need to set special criteria for to have a page render correctly.

Opera - The Underdog with Remarkable Features

Opera might not be as prevalent as its counterparts, but it offers numerous compelling features. The browser has an integrated ad-blocker, free VPN, and a battery-saving mode which are rare among browsers. It also offers a feature called 'Opera Turbo' that compresses web pages to enhance load speed.

The best browser for you largely depends on your specific needs and preferences. Chrome and Firefox are common selections for comprehensive functionality. Simultaneously, Edge and Safari allow seamless integration with respective OS ecosystems. However, Opera excels with its unique offerings. Exploring each of these options will help you determine which best suits your browsing habits.

Though to be blunt, most of what you are really making a selection with is the browser UI and its internal "features" since with 3 of them using Chromium as their engine, only Safari and Firefox offer something different for how they interpret web pages. The big hope of this web developer is that we at least maintain the three separate engines enabling more diverse development practices over time. I'm sure that many are happy to see Internet Explorer disappear but having Edge be little more than a wrapper of Chromium is a clear action that Microsoft sees no value in building web browser engines.

Lastly, Firefox, Chrome, Edge and Opera all have removed the option to open a new tab with your "homepage" by default. Safari appears to be the only one still supporting the idea of opening a tab with your custom homepage (though Brave also does). Interestingly Firefox could support this but at the time of writing it does not.