For a long time, there was nothing to talk about in Web browsers. You used Internet Explorer, and that was it.
Oh, to be sure, some Mozilla/Netscape holdouts clung to their ways, as did a smattering of users of Opera, Konqueror and other obscurities.
Internet Explorer itself hasnt had a major version change since the release of 6.0 in 2001, so there wasnt much to talk about there, either, for five long years.
Thats all changed, thanks to that phoenixlike incarnation of Netscape technology, Firefox.
In one year, the open-source darling Firefox has pulled within a dead heat of the browser popularity crown, at least on the ExtremeTech site, where each browser claims just over 43 percent of our viewers. This success spurred Microsoft to leave off its complacency, and serious development of the formerly dominant browser restarted in earnest.
Right at this moment, big changes have occurred or are about to occur in three well-known browsers: Internet Explorer is finally being updated, with Version 7 available in its third beta version and almost ready to roll out the door; Firefox is also ripening an upgrade beta for its Version 2.0—its at the Beta 1 stage; and finally Opera, which has a devoted but smaller following, has recently come out with Version 9.0.
So, three new browsers in the same year, after no action for a half decade. How do they stack up? We do a comparison of features, usability, memory and disk usage to help you decide on which you should spend your hard-earned … oh, wait a minute, theyre all free, so you can pick the one you want without worrying about out-of-pocket expenses.
Keep in mind: Were just looking at whats there right now, and not considering what the browser developers may have planned for later additions.
Also, these are such feature-rich apps that it would be impossible to compare every little detail—which has support for Atom feeds or importing OPML, and advanced Java settings, for example—so well stick to the stuff thats most apparent to regular users.
Lets take the browsers out for a spin, then, shall we?