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Monday, 09 May 2016 15:55

Battle of the browsers: Edge vs. Chrome vs. Firefox vs. Safari vs. Opera vs. IE vs. Vivaldi

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Google Chrome used to clearly be the best browser, with its speed advantage and extension ecosystem, but that’s changing. We’re living in the golden age of web browsers, and users are spoiled when it comes to choice.

After decades of criticism, Microsoft is replacing Internet Explorer with Edge, a lean browser designed for Windows 10. Mozilla Firefox and Opera, meanwhile, continue to optimize features and add new tools, while Safari’s focus on power usage gives Mac users a serious reason to consider using the default. And then there’s the new kid in town, Vivaldi, with a minimalist design and near-total customization.

You can’t really go wrong with any of the popular browsers, but there are a few things here and there that give each its own competitive edge.

Installation, updates, and compatibility

Installation across the browsers is basically the same. Users can download them from their respective websites if they aren’t built into your operating system already — i.e. Safari, Edge, IE — and each will typically download in under 30 seconds.

Below is a list of browser compatibility.

  • Google Chrome: Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux
  • Mozilla Firefox : Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux
  • Internet Explorer (32 and 64-bit): Windows
  • Safari: Mac OS X (Windows version no longer supported)
  • Opera: Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux
  • Edge: Available with Windows 10, not available for older versions of Windows.
  • Vivaldi: Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux

When it comes to updates, most of the browsers are now more or less equivalent. Background updating is the default practice. In the case of Chrome, Firefox, Vivaldi, and Opera, it’s handled through the app. Edge and Safari are updated through Microsoft and Apple’s respective update utilities. Internet Explorer is the only browser that’s no longer receiving updates, as it’s been put out to pasture in favor of Edge. However, it’s still available for use on Windows machines for compatibility reasons.

Design and ease of use

The current trend in browser design is for the browser to nearly disappear. IE, Edge, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome all attempt to be as minimal as possible, offering next to no actual text and small, monochromatic buttons that discretely blend with the aesthetic design of operating systems such as Windows 8 and Mac OS X. Vivaldi fights back against this somewhat, offering a splash of color and bringing back the statusbar, but it’s still largely governed by the minimalist ethos. Overall, all the browsers stay out of your way and let you focus on the site you’re looking at. Below we compare and contrast the design of each browser.

Google Chrome

Google-chrome
 
Google-chrome

Chrome was the first browser to radically simplify the user interface, offering users little more than an address bar and just a few other buttons. It’s a clean look, and though installing enough extensions can clutter things up, for most users, this won’t be confusing. Like most browsers, the window can get incredibly cramped with 15 ore more tabs open, but it still does a fantastic job of delivering content whether the window is expanded or slightly minimized for the sake of space.

Adjacent to the omnibox are standard navigational features (i.e. back, forward, refresh, home), but you can easily slim down the window by customizing the toolbar and deleting any buttons you deem useless. Chrome’s single-click bookmarking method, done by simply clicking the star located on the right side of the address bar, also makes bookmarking your favorite webpages a breeze.

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox
 
Mozilla Firefox

This browser features a similar, yet more useful layout when compared to its competitors, and places the tab bar above the address bar. The URL and search boxes are still separate by default, a unique feature among current browsers, despite the fact that searching from the address bar works fine. Recently added buttons for Pocket and Hello also take up space while other browsers are slimming things down. But if you want to, you can remove any of these elements in just a couple of clicks. Firefox is nothing if not customizable.

 

The browser offers the same kind of single-click bookmarking that Chrome does — all you have to do is click the star located to the right of the search bar — but there’s little else that separates it from the rest of the pack. The settings menu is accessible in a similar fashion to that of Google Chrome, allowing you to access various options by clicking a simple button depicting three horizontal bars located in the upper-right corner of the window. Unfortunately, it also takes up a bit of space that could otherwise be used by the tab bar.

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer 11
 
Internet Explorer 11

In terms of screen space, Internet Explorer is minimalist, with less “chrome” than Chrome itself. IE 11 features a single bar that simultaneously functions as the browser’s address and search bar. The space at the top places your open tabs to the right of the address-search bar, making it somewhat more cluttered than some of our other picks given the amount of space the search field takes up, but it typically isn’t worrisome unless you’re really stacking up a high volume of tabs. Other notable design features include the single-click bookmarking star now widely adopted by almost all other prominent browsers.

However, the 20-year-old browser is being phased out to make way for Microsoft’s newest browser, Edge. IE is still available in Windows 10, but is no longer the default and will not receive new features.

Safari

Safari
 
Safari

This long mediocre browser is now a serious competitor when compared to the likes of Google and Firefox. The newest version of Apple’s browser is fairly minimalist in design, but retains enough familiarity for old users of the browser to feel at home. Like its peers, Safari offers the address-search bar hybrid. Recent features include a share icon embedded to the right of the search field, which serves as a way to bookmark pages, post to social networks, and share via native Apple platforms like iMessage and Mail. An optional sidebar also give you quick access to your bookmarks, social media shares, and a reading list that syncs with iOS and works offline.

Opera

opera
 
opera

This browser uses Google’s chromium Web engine while retaining a set of signature features that distinguish the browser from the rest. Opera has a single hybrid address-search bar like Chrome, but the alternative browser also sports Opera’s signature features, stash and speed dial. Speed dial allows for easy bookmarking and functions like “the most visited page” on Safari. Stash is similar to Pocket, and thus allows you to quickly store pages for future browsing. The bottom line? Opera sports a clean design with innovative features that hold their own against the rest of the competition.

Edge

Microsoft Edge
 
Microsoft Edge

Edge resembles IE 11, though with even smaller borders, fewer icons, and a streamlined toolbar designed to take up more real estate on your display than IE 11. A solitary, address-search bar also runs the width of the page, along with a trio of headline features that include markups, reading view, and Microsoft’s equivalent to Siri (aka Cortana). It is the standard web browser for Windows 10, and has integration with many of the OS’s features and apps, including Outlook and the aforementioned Cortana. The latest update even gives it the ability to cast video, audio, and pictures to Miracast and DLAN devices.

Vivaldi

Vivaldi
 
Vivaldi

This browser doesn’t just offer customization, it actually asks you to choose where things like the tabs and address bar should go when you first launch it. If you want your tabs in a panel to the left of your window, you can do that, or you can leave them above the address bar. Bucking recent trends, Vivaldi also brings back the status bar at the bottom of the window, giving you a quick place to zoom in and out and preview URLs from. The current tab also takes on the primary color of whatever site you’re visiting, making the browser chrome seem like a natural extension of the site you’re visiting and adding some visual flair.

Benchmark tests

Most browsers are compatible with web standards and handle speed with relative ease. A casual user probably won’t notice a difference in the rendering speed between today’s modern browsers, but all six browsers are much faster and leaner than those of a few years ago — and become even more so with each new build. Below are our benchmark results for the six browsers, with bold text indicating the winner for each category.

  JetStream 1.1 Kraken JavaScript 1.1 Octane 2.0 HTML5 Compliance
  Higher is better Faster is better Higher is better “555” is perfect
Chrome 50 134.31 1350.0ms 23812 521
Internet Explorer 11 91.035 2776.7ms 12300 343
Mozilla Firefox 46 118.13 1651.2ms 20913 478
Safari 9.1 145.61 1441.8ms 12514 410
Opera 31 126.83 1498.6ms 22568 520
Edge 162.34 1496.7ms 24096 453
Vivaldi 129.78 1495.0ms 22840 521

Google Chrome has long dominated the HTML5 compliance benchmark, but it has some competition at the top now: Vivaldi. The two browsers support the same number of standards, meaning both should be able to perfectly render just about anything you can find.

The Jetstream benchmark, which focuses on modern web applications, has a surprising winner: Edge. Microsoft’s been working hard on optimizing its new browser, and it shows. Safari, Chrome, and Vivaldi aren’t too far behind, though.

Two Javascript benchmarks, Mozilla’s Kraken benchmark and Google’s Octane 2.0, give us more split results. Edge just barely beat Chrome on Octane 2.0, while Chrome came out ahead on the Kraken test. The results suggest most modern browsers are pretty fast, however, with the exception of Internet Explorer 11.

This suggests that Microsoft’s Edge is a huge leap forward from its old browser, and that competition in the browser market is pretty tight overall.

Extensions and extra features

Features are what truly separate one browser from the next given that speed and compatibility are no longer the defining issue. That being said, each browser has its own slate of unique features, from expansive app stores and add-ons to various extensions and tools, that makes it shine in its own light.

Chrome

Chrome has become the starting point for browser extension developers, and it shows. If an extension exists, you can probably get it for Chrome before you can get it for any other browser. There’s also Apps, which blur the line between web and local apps in some unique ways. We like the idea, and Chrome remains the most integrated software for accessing anything Google-related (i.e. Gmail, Google Drive). If web apps and seamless dashboard features are important to you, check out what Google has to offer.

chrome-icon
chrome-icon

Download now

Firefox

Firefox icon
Firefox icon

Like Chrome, Firefox is on a six-week update schedule, and sports a strong catalog of extensions. Some older extensions have broken with recent Firefox releases, and at this point, cutting-edge extensions tend to be offered first on Chrome and show up on Firefox later. Having said that, a few power-user extensions are exclusive to Firefox, making this hard to call definitively. The built-in PDF viewer is incredibly handy, as is the browser’s support for Macbook Retina displays and grouped tabs. Firefox also remains one of the most customizable in terms of interface and display out of the five on our list, though Vivaldi is a legitimate threat on the horizon.

Download now

Safari

Safari-icon
Safari-icon

Safari’s extension ecosystem isn’t massive, but Apple’s default browser has come a long way since its initial beginning. Most major extensions are available at this point, even if the collection is nowhere close to competing with Chrome or Firefox. Other awesome built-in extras include the ad-free Safari Reader, which lets you read any article without all the unnecessary clutter, and comprehensive iCloud integration for syncing pages across all your devices. There’s also built-in RSS support, and a reading list that syncs with your mobile devices.

Safari’s mobile version comes pre-installed on iOS devices, but isn’t available on other mobile platforms.

Internet Explorer 11

Internet Explorer icon
Internet Explorer icon

IE11 sports heavy integration and optimization for Windows 7 and 8. Many functions, like turning tabs into new windows, are much easier with Microsoft’s stalwart browser. It retains some of the unique features introduced in IE 10, like individual tab previewing from the task bar and a new feature called site pinning, which lets you ‘pin’ a website to the Windows 8 task bar like you would a normal application. However, unlike an ordinary taskbar shortcut, pinned websites can offer customized “right click” menus. For example, pinning the Facebook toolbar will let you right click and auto browse to different sections of the Facebook site like News, Messages, Events, and Friends. In addition, when you open a pinned site, the IE 11 browser customizes itself to resemble the site you’re viewing. Currently, this only means the icon in the upper-left corner will change along with the colors for the back and forward buttons, but we like the idea.

IE’s mobile version comes pre-installed on Windows devices. There’s currently no mobile version, though.

Opera

Opera Logo Now
Opera Logo Now

Opera has always stood out in part by bundling features that other browsers offer as add-ons. The inclusion of both ad blocking and a VPN in recent builds of Opera are prime examples, and make this a go-to browser for the privacy set. But it’s not just about the included features: Opera’s add-on library is fairly complete. The extensive web-app store offers a variety of free and premium apps, but Opera’s extensions are centered around the browser’s signature tool, Speed Dial — a touchscreen-optimized homepage. Each extension can be tacked to Opera’s Speed Dial homepage. The simplicity of having your Gmail account stored next to a dependable news aggregatior on your homepage is hard to pass up.

Download now

Edge

Edge Icon
Edge Icon


At this point, Edge doesn’t offer any extensions (unless you are a Windows Insider and have the preview version). However, extensions have proven to be more than just a niche feature given their wide-spread adoption in other browsers. Microsoft has confirmed that Edge will support extensions in one capacity or another down the line, but there’s no word on when they’ll be enabled for regular users. For now, Edge does offer an attractive and easy-to-use reader mode, one that removes clutter and formatting from webpages and articles to make for a more comfortable reading experience on the web.

Vivaldi

iu
iu

As the newest browser in this list, Vivaldi doesn’t have an extension ecosystem, and extensions aren’t supported by default. Extensions are planned, however, and some users have even managed to get a few Opera extensions working in the browser (though the method isn’t straight-forward). Outside of the robust customization options, the sidebar offers a lot of compelling features. You can write notes about any URL, for future reference, or add any site as a side panel. This isn’t the most feature-filled browser as of right now, but it’s clearly an ambitious one.

Download now

Security and privacy

The most valuable tool for secure browsing is user discretion, especially when you consider that every web browser has encountered security breaches in the past. And Internet Explorer and Chrome’s reputation for protecting users’ security and privacy credentials is spotty at best.

Chrome, Safari, Vivaldi, Opera, and Firefox all rely on Google’s Safe Browsing API to detect potentially dangerous sites. Thanks to constant updates, Mozilla, Chrome, and Opera all make constant security updates. But Chrome takes security a bit further by also scanning for potentially harmful downloads. There’s also encryption add-ons currently in the works at Google.

All browsers offer a private session option, too. Private sessions prevent the storage of history, temporary Internet files, and cookies. For example, Internet Explorer 11 features a security measure called Do Not Track. Only Internet Explorer goes so far as to to block trackers completely from communicating with your browser. What’s more, according to a2013 NSS study, only Internet Explorer blocks trackers used on more than 90 percent of potentially hazardous sites.

Nonetheless, Microsoft has stated that Edge won’t offer IE’s Do Not Track feature, though you will be able to enable some tracking protection. This change of heart is because Do Not Track isn’t really honored by many websites, making it largely pointless in 2016.

Popularity & Verdict

browser-share-chart
browser-share-chart

Internet Explorer has been the number one browser for decades, but that’s changing right now, according to NetMarketShare’s latest numbers. They show Chrome as edging out Microsoft’s default for this first time this year, with 41.71 percent of the market. The closest competitor to these two browsers is Firefox, with a distant 10.06 percent of the market. Safari, the default browser on the Mac platform, captures a respectable 4.47 percent of the market, while Opera sits at 2.1 percent. Vivaldi doesn’t show up in these numbers.

stat-counter-browser-share
stat-counter-browser-share

StatCounter provides a much different view. According to its data, Chrome is by far the most popular desktop browser, with more than 56.75 percent of all Internet traffic. Firefox is up next, at a distant 14.24 percent, and a declining Internet Explorer sees 12.14 percent of the market share. Safari nets 9.47 percent of traffic, while Opera captures about 1.87 percent.

Why the big difference between these reports? It’s because NetMarketShare counts unique visitors, while StatCounter tallies all visits. In other words, NetMarketShare’s numbers reflect how many people are using a browser, while StatCounter reflects how much a browser is used.

Once you know that, the numbers make sense. A lot of people default to Internet Explorer because they don’t know any better, and only visit a few websites each day. Chrome is often preferred by people who browse heavily and might visit hundreds of sites in a day. And Firefox, despite being used by fewer people than Internet Explorer, generates more web traffic because of its power-user base.

Chrome is still king

It’s getting closer every month, but it still seems like Chrome is the best browser overall. It’s still a top-performing browser, and its extension eco-system is the best. There’s a reason why it’s the most popular browser ever made, and while specific users might prefer something different, most people can safely default to Chrome.

Source : https://www.yahoo.com/tech/battle-best-browsers-edge-vs-190732036.html

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