Long Live the Browser Wars

Carl Weinschenk

It wasn’t too long ago in people years – but quite a while in Internet and Web years, which are even faster than dog years – that Internet Explorer was essentially the only browser. It had almost 100 percent of the market.

Those days are long gone, of course. The two biggest upstarts, Mozilla’s Firefox and Google Chrome, have taken a huge chunk from IE. The April numbers on desktop browser use from Net Applications demonstrate how open the landscape is now. The firm found that IE was used by 55.81 percent of users, Firefox by 20.30 percent, Chrome by 16.35 percent, and Safari by 5.38 percent. Several other browsers hold small shards of the market.

Google Chrome just announced version 27 of the browser. There is disagreement on whether the changes are significant. eWeek’s story on the release offers 10 reasons for Chrome’s significant market share gains. The top five: The overall market influence of Google, the browser’s simplicity, its security features, the integration with other Google products, and its inclusion on Android devices.

Though eWeek doesn’t characterize version 27 as a major update, one intriguing new feature is voice search. Digital Trends writes that the goal is for users to activate the voice search by just saying, “Okay, Google,” followed by the request. The site reports that its testing of the feature required clicking on the microphone. Google also announced that the voice app will be available for use on the iPad and iPhone soon.

Having a voice is a nice bell and whistle, but the meat and potatoes of a browser is speed. Chrome already is associated with that attribute. It is taking another step and increasing how quickly it operates by 5 percent, by prioritizing critical resources.

The piece outlined the other changes:

Other changes in the browser include: cleaner calendar forms, thanks to HTML5; WebReal-Time Communication (WebRTC) support for live audio input support via the Web Audio API; and support for the new Sync FileSystem API so that developers can synchronize Web app data. This could improve the ability of Chrome Web Apps to function properly offline.

The expansion of the market means that users will have more choices. TechRadar does a good job of suggesting which is the best browser in a number of areas, choosing what it believes is the faster browser (IE 10), and the best for add-ons (Firefox 19), Windows 7 (Explorer 10), Windows 8 (Explorer 10), Windows XP (Chrome 25), OS X (Chrome 25), privacy (Explorer 10), HTML5 (Chrome 25), Android (Chrome for Android), and the iPad (Safari).

Folks can quibble with these results, of course. The one thing that is for certain is that the browser world has evolved a long way in a few short years.

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