In order to surf the web, you need a web browser, and today there are several different ones to choose from. If you're looking for a lean, no-nonsense browser, Chrome is the one for you. Internet Explorer still stands as the odds on favorite when you want to make sure pages load correctly (not because of superior standards support, but because its majority market share have driven developers to code their webpages to look best on IE). Firefox has found more than a niche market by giving users near endless customization, and Apple's Safari purports to run circles around everyone else (it doesn't). And then there's the cornucopia of alternative browsers and browser shells, like Flock (Firefox-based) and Avant (IE-based).
No matter which browser you choose to surf the web with, the features you take for granted today are the result of nearly two decades of browser design. On the following pages, we'll take you through a visual tour, in chronological order, of every major PC-based (read: not Mac) web browser that ever was, starting with the very first one: WorldWideWeb. We'll tell you what made each one unique and, when applicable, what it contributed to modern browser development.
Sit back, buckle up, and hit the jump to get started!
While most of us have heard Mozilla’s claim that Firefox has had 1 billion downloads, some at Microsoft aren’t so sure. According to Amy Barzdukas, a general manager at Microsoft in charge of Internet Explorer, the milestone made for some “interesting math.”
“It's an interesting number and I have not seen the math [but] how many internet connected users are there? 1.1 billion, 1.5 billion, something in that area,” said Barzdukas. Mozilla’s one billion figure includes every single update and all downloads since Firefox’s initial 2004 launch.
Do you think the folks at Mozilla are telling the truth, or fudging the numbers? Let us know in the comments.
For some time now there has been plenty of talk about killing off IE6. Digg has prevented users on IE6 from certain activities, Facebook has been hinting at its users to upgrade since February 2009 and YouTube is supposedly going to cut off support altogether. But, according to a recent post on the IEBlog, Microsoft is committed to keeping support – at least for the lifespan of XP.
“The engineering point of view on IE6 starts as an operating systems supplier. Dropping support for IE6 is not an option because we committed to supporting the IE included with Windows for the lifespan of the product. We keep our commitments,” said the post. “Many people expect what they originally got with their operating system to keep working whatever release cadence particular subsystems have. As engineers, we want people to upgrade to the latest version. We make it as easy as possible for them to upgrade. Ultimately, the choice to upgrade belongs to the person responsible for the PC.”
Microsoft has stated that they plan on keeping Extended Support for XP until April 8, 2014 – so if you’re an IE6 user, you’ve got roughly four more years to enjoy your ancient web browser.
But, if you are interested in making today the day you upgrade, be sure to check out these great alternatives!
Last week we reported on the new concessions Microsoft was proposing to the EU in the hopes of quelling its ongoing antitrust battles in Europe. The solution was a simple ballot screen pushed out as a “high priority” Windows Update, but what we didn’t know at the time is that it will also be sent out to computers running Windows XP and Vista as well.
The exact lineup of browsers hasn’t been finalized yet, but it is said to include 10 of “the most widely-used web browsers that run on Windows with a usage share of equal to or more than 0.5% in the European Economic Area”. Oddly enough, it’s still not even clear if Opera meets these requirements and given that they are the ones responsible for the antitrust woes facing Microsoft, would be bitter justice.
Opera officials overjoyed with the concessions, but never resting on their laurels, are said to now be pushing for an “icon-less ballot screen”. I suppose they are concerned that many users associate the “blue E” icon with “internet” and it still gives an unfair advantage to Microsoft. They are also said to be asking that this browser ballot be pushed out worldwide, but I somehow doubt Microsoft will take this approach. The browser ballot screen will include two links, one to the manufacturers website where they can learn more and an extra link directly to a download server.
Given the amazing amount of concessions being made by Microsoft, is Opera being unreasonable by asking for more?
"The European Commission can confirm that Microsoft has proposed a consumer ballot screen as a solution to the pending antitrust case,” EU revealed in a statement.
Microsoft had been hoping EU would allow it to ship Windows without a browser. EU had agreed to this solution when bundling of Windows Media Player was at issue, but the results proved that it was just a ruse. Had EU lent its seal of approval to Microsoft’s favorite solution, the company would have found it very easy to influence OEMs.
How's this for irony - Internet Explorer 8 is Microsoft's best browser to date and, save for IE7, might be the company's most ambitious update to the IE series yet, but for the first time in over a decade, IE's market share appears to be in trouble.
According to StatCounter, a free online stats tool, Internet Explorer has coughed up 11.4 percent of the browser market share since March. This despite IE8 continuing to show strong growth, though much of that growth is coming at the expense of IE7, as Microsoft has been aggressively pushing its latest browser version.
Mozilla's Firefox, Apple's Safari, and Google's Chrome browsers are the ones responsible for 'stealing' away IE users in the past three months, with Firefox claiming at least half of the IE defectors.
What browser are you using? Hit the jump and sound off.
Far be it for Microsoft to shy away from hiring known celebrities to pitch its products, as was the case with hiring Jerry Seinfeld as its OS pitchman. But now the software maker is looking to push Internet Explorer 8 in the cutthroat browser wars, and it's getting a bit of help from TV Superman Dean Cain. Oh, and there's puking too.
So far there are a total of four adverts, each one starring Dean Cain as the on-screen narrator. But it's the fourth video in the series that will get all the attention for its vivid portrayal of a woman puking after viewing something apparently offensive online - or maybe she's a Houston Rockets fan and just read up on Yao Ming's foot.
When it comes to handing out fines, the European Commission doesn't mess around. Just last month the EC ____ slapped Intel with a record setting $1.45 billion after finding the chip maker guilty of anticompetitive practices, while in 2004, the EC slammed Microsoft with what today would amount to about a $790 million fine.
The aforementioned incidents no doubt weighing on Microsoft's mind, the software maker will release a version of Windows 7 in Europe with Internet Explorer 8 stripped out.
"To ensure that Microsoft is in compliance with European law, Microsoft will be releasing a separate version of Windows 7 for distribution in Europe that will not include Windows Internet Explorer," Microsoft said in a memo. "Microsoft will offer IE8 separately and free of charge and will make it easy an convenient for PC manufacturers to preinstall IE8 on Windows 7 machines in Europe if they so choose."
Probably a good move, as European regulators earlier this year warned that bundling a browser in Windows would likely violate European antitrust law.
June 9th saw a rare 'double-header' in security updates: Microsoft's monthly Patch Tuesday was joined by Adobe's quarterly security updates for Acrobat and Adobe Reader. How big was this month's 10-update Patch Tuesday? According to a Microsoft spokesperson quoted by Cnet, the 31 vulnerabilities covered by updates are "the most since Microsoft started releasing updates on a regular schedule of the second Tuesday of every month in October 2003."
Users of Windows 2000 SP4 through Windows Vista SP2 (and holdouts still running Windows 7 Beta), Microsoft Office 2000, 2003, or 2007; Microsoft Office for MacOS 2004 and 2008, Microsoft Works 8.5 and 9, and IE5.01 through IE8 users have some work to do before heading off on vacation, as do users of Adobe Reader and Acrobat 7.x, 8.x and 9.x. To find out what's being changed - and why - join us after the break.
Back in September of this year Google launched their Mobile Search with My Location service, which allowed users of mobile devices to quickly and easily find nearby points of interest. And now, it looks like that very same functionality is making its way to your computer.
Google’s Toolbar will now feature My Location. This addition will allow Google Maps and their own Maps gadget to automatically close in on your location, allowing you to type less into your search box when tracking down the closest pizza place. “You can just do a search like [thai food], and you will receive a list of nearby restaurants and more local Google search results,” wrote Aseem Sood and Susan Ting, members of the Toolbar Product Team at Google. “This feature is similar to IP-based local search results announced earlier this month, except Google Toolbar with My Location can determine a more accurate location by using nearby Wi-Fi access points. This is done without associating location information with a user's Google Account. Google Toolbar with My Location is only available in the U.S.”
Unfortunately, the Google Toolbar will continue to be available only for Internet Explorer (someone should let these guys know that they have their very own browser too!), and there’s no word on an official release date. But, according to the official Google Blog, they “hope to bring you the next batch soon.”