Ah, web browsers. Those mysterious and quirky programs that provide us a window on the internet, that connect us with our online life. For the people who live and breathe bits and bytes, they are a well-understood, commonplace technology. But for others, they are just a means to an end, a tool for work, and their differences can be confounding.
This short article will explain what web browsers OneEach sites supports, describe some of their differences, and offer a little history of these browsers.
Supported Web Browsers
OneEach web sites support the following browsers:
• Google Chrome (Windows and Mac)
• Internet Explorer (Windows)
• Safari (Mac)
• Firefox (Windows and Mac)
So what does 'support' mean, exactly? It means we affirm our sites will render and operate on those browsers and those operating systems, as the sites are designed and intended to operate. Those four browsers (six, actually, if you count the different operating systems), comprise 91% of the installed browsers in the world.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community where member organizations – software and hardware companies, financial companies, large corporations, and others – work together to create the technical standards for the world wide web. Note: not the Internet, the web. The W3C specifies how web servers and web browsers should behave and interact. Every browser has to be W3C compliant.
So let's take a look at the browsers.
Google Chrome, or commonly just 'Chrome', is the web browser created and distributed by Google. It runs on both Windows and Macintosh computers. It is very fast at loading and displaying pages, and when it first came out, it was by far the fasted browser available. Since then others have caught up with it, but it remains among the fastest and most stable browsers available. It has the highest adoption rate – that is, people are downloading and installing it more than any other browser.
Dating back over twenty-five years, Internet Explorer (IE) is Microsoft's venerable, but getting long in the tooth, web browser. It originally shipped With Windows 95, in 1995. So, children born when it came out can now rent cars. Because it has shipped with every Windows computer since that time, IE is one of the two 'standard bearers' in terms of compatibility. If you're creating a web site, it has to run on IE.
Because IE has to support all the applications written for it over the years, it is the most resource intensive browser available and is being deprecated in favor of Microsoft's future browser, Edge, which we will support as well.
Safari is the web browser built into Apple's Macintosh OSX system and is available on all Macintosh computers. It has rock-solid W3C compatibility, good speed at loading and displaying web pages. And like IE, it has shipped with every Macintosh for years, so it is the second 'standard bearer' – it, and IE are the two browsers every site must display correctly on.
Mozilla Firefox (or simply Firefox) is a free, open-source browser developed by The Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit that according to its charter, “is...dedicated to keeping the Internet a global public resource that is open and accessible to all.”
Firefox is as fast, if not faster, than Chrome (they are constantly moving past each other in increments), but it is far less resource intensive. Because of its built-in development tools, its stability, and its cross-platform availability, it is the browser of choice for web developers and programmers. A given web site must display and function in IE and Safari, but it was almost certainly built using Firefox.
Most technical people who are given a choice of a browser to use, choose Firefox.