Webbrowser Comparison

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This page only briefly lists my personal preferences and quirks. For a more factual comparison, please consult one of the more factual sources.

Standards Support

First the good news. The support for standards of most browsers is very good. In particular Chrome and Opera (which both use the Blink layout engine) are superb. Firefox is an excellent contender. But even Safari and Internet Explorer are still doing an great job. Also when it comes to security, extension support, and even stuff like bookmark and password management, pop-up blocking or full-text search of the history are supported amongst nearly all browsers. HTML5, CSS, Javascript, SVG: the basics just work on all browsers. That's not to say that if you plan to author a webpage, you still should be on the lookout for corner cases. Sites like caniuse.com will help you with that.

Browsers

Mozilla Firefox

A bit technical web browser. It has a lot of bells and whistles, especially in the preference options, and comes with a lot of extensions and add-ons. The result is that it is not very elegant in user design, but it is very powerful. Hence, it is more suited towards users with more technical requirements. Besides not having the best GUI, it is performance (in terms of speed and memory requirements) is subpar compared against Chrome and Safari.

Under the hood, Firefox uses the Gecko layout engine.

Apple Safari

Apple Safari remains a populair browser on OS X. I am skeptical towards it because -despite being a MacFreek- I no longer like Apple. Too much lock-in.

I truly hate that it does not show the "http://" part of a URL, and can't be told to do so, not even by hidden preference. When http://example.com/ is unreachable, I like to copy the hostname, and paste it after a "nslookup " in the browser. This pastes "nslookup http://example.com" instead of "nslookup example.com". This annoys me to great length.

Safari uses the WebKit layout engine, originally a fork of KHTML.

Google Chrome

A rather fast browser. I like it for it's speed, and the combination of open source and proprietary features. In particular, the support for both proprietary (MPEG-4/H264) and open source (Ogg, WebM) video formats was always very good.

Chrome used to have a great user interface, with just the features I needed. Unfortunately, they removed features I needed (like removing the "http://" part of an URL) and added features I did not need. One example is user switching (I already have an OS for user switching).

I've used Chrome as my default browser for a couple of years, but was glad to drop it after an incident where it deleted all my passwords. In this incident, I removed a profile, only to found that it deleted all my passwords, since it was able to look those up in the Keychain. Never mind that other applications (and perhaps other profiles) also needed access to those passwords.

Chrome uses the Blink layout engine, originally a fork of WebKit.

Chromium

Chromium is the open source variant of Chrome. It lacks some of the Google-integration (which I would consider good), but also lacks some proprietary standards supports, like MPEG-4/H.264 video support (which I consider unfortunate).

Opera

Opera is a proprietary browser, nowadays using the Blink layout engine. It is not very common on the desktop, but has considerable market share in embedded hardware (like TV set top boxes). It's rather fast, and memory efficient, while supporting a lot of features, in particular when it comes to standards. Not very surprising considering that it featured employees like Håkon Wium Lie and previously Ian Hickson, lead authors of respectively the CSS and HTML5 standards.

I love opera for this dedication to standards. Unfortunately, I don't really like the way it implemented bookmarks in the browser: I can't easily create subfolders for bookmarks, the bookmark menu features a clumsy submenu, there are no "save all tabs as bookmarks" or "open all bookmarks in tabs" option. Lastly, their home (dial) page ignores my choice for default search engine.

Opera used to have it's own layout engine, Presto, but switched to Chrome's Blink layout engine.

Maxthon

Maxthon is a relative new browser. It's main selling point was cloud-integration, although other browsers seem to have caught up on that too. I briefly used it, and found it a rather clean browser, but it lacked a feature that would make me switch.

Microsoft Spartan

Spartan will be Windows default browser. As such I often have to check it's features when designing a web page.

Spartan uses the Edge layout engine, originally a fork of Trident.

Microsoft Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer was Windows default browser. As such I often have to check it's features when designing a web page.

Internet Explorer uses the Trident layout engine.

Konqueror and Web (Epiphany)

Konqueror is a file-browser annex web browser for KDE. Web (formerly known as Epiphany) is the web browser for Gnome. KDE and Gnome are desktop environment for Linux and BSD. I suspect that Chromium is nowadays the most popular web browser for Linux and BSD. Konqueror is still notable because by default it uses the KHTML layout engine.

I never used Web, so the only opinion I have is about it's name. It has a stupid name.

Lynx

A text-only web browser. I can't imagine someone still uses Lynx for daily browsing. I still use it to test my basic HTML designs, before applying CSS. I'm not well-versed in accessibility guidelines, but I expect that if a page renders well in Lynx, it's pretty accessible.

There was more ...

In the past, I've also used Mosaic, Netscape Navigator, Camino, iCab and OmniWeb. Those days are long past.

Extensions

I consider the following extensions essential:

Password manager
Most browsers on Mac OS X use the Apple Keychain. A notable exception is Firefox, which needs the Keychain Service Integration add-on for that. The Keychain is not perfect (there are issues with "Web form password" versus "Internet password"). Most browsers have a 1password extension as well.
Adblock
While I am appreciative of advertisements as a revenue for websites, I really can't stand moving images. They distract me from reading. For that reason, I find an adblocker essential. I regret that this also turns of text-only ads.
Ghostery
Needed to turn of some of the unnecessary tracking performed on sites. While I don't care tracking to improve website, and even don't mind the occasional sharing of my browsing behaviour for advertisement purposes, I'm annoyed with sites that have 5 to 10 tracking scripts. This slows down sites.
Terms of Service; Didn't read
Explains the terms of service in simple terms.
External bookmark manager
While most browser support their own cloud-solution, I prefer a cross-browser solution, like delicious.com.