The browsers - Internet Explorer vs. Firefox / Chrome

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Latest information about browsers is included towards the bottom of this page. Please don't forget to scroll down this page to read the latest information.

The web browsers, or just the browsers, are software used to browse the Worldwide Web, a.k.a. the Web. These are applications that locate a web page when an URL is specified, and display the web page consisting of color, text, graphics, and video on your monitor. The browsers can also play music which, of course, you hear through your computer's speakers. A browser is an application you must have if you want to surf the Net. Internet Explorer (IE) and Netscape are the two most commonly used browsers. The AOL browser is actually a modified version of Internet Explorer. Firefox browser, which is a relatively new introduction in the market, is gaining popularity these days. In fact, beginning in 2006, Firefox has become the most serious competitor of Internet Explorer. Many people think that Firefox is a better browser and are switching to Firefox. Netscape is fading out. Mozilla is replacing Netscape.

Most computers come loaded with both Internet Explorer and Netscape. To use them you just have to accept an online agreement, and pay a monthly fee to a service provider who will connect you to the Internet. You will also need a modem (which, these days, usually comes built-in within the computer) and a phone line. When you sign up with an Internet Service Provider (ISP), they usually send you software to connect to the Internet. That software generally contains a browser. The latest version of Internet Explorer or Netscape can also be downloaded for free from the following sites:

For Internet Explorer (US English version), go to:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/downloads/critical/ie6sp1/download.asp

For Netscape, go to:
http://channels.netscape.com/ns/browsers/download.jsp

Though both Internet Explorer (IE) and Netscape serves the same purpose (i.e., let you surf the web), there are some small differences between the two. The way how you do things with each browser differs, and in some cases the terminology differs. The table below shows the difference in some of the commonly used terms:

To do this ... In Internet Explorer In Netscape
To visit a web page,
you type in
the URL of the page ...
in the
Address
Field
.
in the
Location
Line
.
To see a freshly
downloaded copy
of a web page ...
press the
Refresh
button.
press the
Reload
button.
To remember a web page so
that it can be visited later without
having to type in its complete URL ...
you put it
in your
Favorites.
you
Bookmark
the page.

Aside from the difference in some terms, how the two browsers display a web page based on the instructions written in HTML, also varies. As a beginner (and not a web page builder) you may not realize the difference. But please be informed that late versions of Internet Explorer are capable of doing more amazing things than late versions of Netscape. As a web page builder, I am quite frustrated with Netscape, as many web page building tricks and techniques are not supported by Netscape. For this reason, I personally do not like Netscape. In my opinion, Internet Explorer is a more advanced browser and it is capable of displaying many web page stunts which makes the Internet so interesting and so attractive.

Update (August, 2008)
Internet Explorer 7.0 versus Firefox 3.0

In the world of computers things change very fast. As of today, Internet Explorer (IE) is still the most popular browser. Vast majority of PC users still use IE. Netscape has virtually died. A small percentage of people use Mozilla. Fewer people use Opera. The browser that is coming up very fast and seems to be very promising is Firefox (by Mozilla). The current version of IE is version 7.0. Both IE 7.0 and the current version of Firefox (3.0) offers the convenience of tabbed browsing, i.e., in the same window you can open many different web sites under different tabs so that you can jump from site to site just by clicking on the tabs without the need to close one site in order to open another. This is a big convenience. Not sure what is tabbed browsing? Please look at the following screenshot.

Shoban Sen's tabbed browsing screenshot for Internet Basics for Seniors
Tabbed Browsing
The screenshot shows I have opened 5 different web pages
under 5 different tabs in my Internet Explorer browser. The
tabs are shown by red arrowheads. If I want to open another
web page, I'll just click on the tab on the right of tab #5
and open the web page under that tab.

Both IE 7.0 and Firefox 3.0 offers better protection against spyware and other malware (some computer geeks claim Firefox offers better protection than IE). Both IE 7.0 and Firefox 3.0 can be installed with your search engine of choice (such as Google or Yahoo!) built-in inside the browser so you don't have to open the search engine separately in a tab to search for something. At the time of installing, these latest browsers will give you the option of installing the toolbar of the search engine of your choice. And these toolbars provide automatic popup blocking which is an additional benefit of great value. The bottomline? If you are using an older browser it is time to upgrade to either IE 7.0 or Firefox 3.0 for a better and safer surfing experience. Firefox has one important advantage over IE 7.0. The program is much smaller in file size than IE 7.0. That means it will occupy much less space in your hard drive. And if you download the program (which is the easiest and fastest way of getting Firefox), the download will happen much faster. The installation of Firefox will also happen much faster.

Get Firefox 3.6 with Google Toolbar Get IE 8 with Google Toolbar

(Note: As of June 1 2010, the latest version of Firefox is 3.6 and the latest version of Internet Explorer is 8).

Another browser that has gained quite a bit of popularity lately is Google Chrome. Some of its advavantages, as claimed by Google, are a. Fast start-up (Google chrome launches quickly), b. Fast loading (Google Chrome loads web pages quickly), and c. Fast search (You can search the web right from the address bar).

December 14, 2010 update:

After being loyal to Internet Explorer for many years, and trying out Firefox and Google Chrome, I am now convinced that Chrome is a better browser for the following reasons:

In summary, I strongly recommend all my readers to get the Chrome browser. Google is the leader in the search industry and a giant in the field of computers. I am not surprised that they have produced a simpler yet much better browser. Download Chrome from Google today (if you have not done that already) and ... click ... click ... click ... enjoy the Internet safely.

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