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Sunday, August 13, 2017

What is a Browser?

Our members most typically communicate with DKG via the Internet. Browsing the Internet is a common, daily occurrence for most people. Have you ever considered why they call it browsing? It is because you use an internet browser, also know as a Web browser.

A browser is simply a software program that you use to access the internet and view web pages on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. It is the gateway to the Internet.

The original browser, Mosaic (1992) was not graphical. It was text-based. Browsers have come a long way since then. You now have powerful browsers that let you safely and quickly access your favorite websites.

Most browsers are available for free download. The four most popular Internet browsers today include  Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Apple Safari.

Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Because some websites display better in one Internet browser or another, many people have at least two browsers available on their computer, smartphone, or tablet. These strengths and weaknesses are discussed in more detail below.
Choosing a Browser to Suit Your Needs

When you surf the Web, you use one of the many browsers available. A browser is the way you navigate the World Wide Web. In most instances, you begin with the browser that came with your computer. Older Windows computers gave you Internet Explorer, while updates gave you Edge. If you use an Apple product, you started with Safari. In this blog we will take a look at Edge, Safari, and others. Because Microsoft no longer supports Internet Explorer, it will not be discussed.

Microsoft Edge resembles Internet Explorer 11, so Windows users will feel comfortable with it. It fully integrates with Windows 10. For users who want and use extensions--which extend your Web browser with additional features, modify Web pages, and integrate your browser with the other services you use--Edge doesn’t allow for much customization. Syncing with your Android or iOS device isn’t straightforward.  Microsoft has sandboxed Edge away from the operating system to limit security breaches that occurred with Internet Explorer. (Sandboxing is a computer security term referring to when a program is set aside from other programs in a separate environment so that if errors or security issues occur, those issues will not spread to other areas on the computer.)

Apple Safari is a Web browser available for the Macintosh operating system as well as the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. According to Apple, Safari has been designed based on the premise that the most useful browser is one that "gets out of your way and lets you simply enjoy the Web.” If you own several Apple products, synchronization of passwords, bookmarks, history, tabs and Reading List happen seamlessly through iCloud. Like Edge, Safari is sandboxed. In general, Safari runs a bit faster than other browsers on an Apple device.

Google Chrome has a robust set of features, with full Google Account integration, and a suite of mobile apps for every major platform. It does have privacy and security controls. By some accounts, Chrome is the gold standard for web browsers. Chrome’s integration of its products is second to none.

Mozilla Firefox has been on a roller coaster of popularity over the years. Firefox is available for Linux, Mac, Windows, handheld devices, and in more than 70 different languages. Firefox is developed by the nonprofit, public-benefit organization Mozilla and thousands of volunteers worldwide. Since 1998, Mozilla has been working to help create and sustain an open and accessible Internet for all, and its focus is on individuals, not profits. Recent updates have once again pushed Firefox into the limelight of a preferred browser. It provides secure connections and browsing protections.

Choosing: Start with the one that came with your computer or smart phone/tablet. If it does everything you want and need, go no further. If however, you are like most users, you will eventually have a reason to switch. Download the one or two that interest you. They are free.

For example, this particular blogger personally has Safari, Chrome, and Firefox on her computer. She uses each one for different tasks. If she is working in the Google world, she uses Chrome. Safari doesn’t like sites that use Flash (helps with animations), so she uses Firefox or Chrome. The blogger accesses this blog via Firefox but accesses the draft of the next post via Chrome (draft is in Google docs). For general browsing, she uses Safari.

Keep several browsers on your devices. Give other browsers a test run. You may find one that better fits your needs.

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