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Poll: Given a fresh choice, which Web browser would you choose?

Weekly Microsoft Windows Blog Poll: Given a fresh choice, which Web browser would you choose? Perhaps you better explain that.

Microsoft and the European Union have been fighting various antitrust legal battles for years now, but one decision was recently made that requires Microsoft to offer a choice of Web browsers to Windows users in the EU. The idea behind the decision, in a nutshell, is to allow other Web browsers the chance to be the default browser over Internet Explorer.

But as Stephen Shankland reports on CNET News, the number of Web browsers offered as an alternative choice far exceeds the common browsers most of us already know: Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, and Opera. The list of alternatives include the likes of GreenBrowser, K-Meleon, FlashPeak's SlimBrowser, Maxthon International's Maxthon, Avant Force's Avant, Fenrir's Sleipnir, and Flock.

If the next time you turned on your computer you were give a choice of any Web browser, which one would you pick? Why would you pick it? Have you tried them all? How do you know you made the right choice? Do we really need to keep up with new browsers like we keep up with new CPUs or iPods?

Poll

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About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

141 comments
shikshan
shikshan

With an i3 - 4GB combination PC, IE has good speed, although not as high as Chrome. Firefox is very slow; Opera is faster. Unfortunately, Chrome does not have an integrated Video Downloader to supplement its other merits.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I can run NoScript and AdBlock Plus in Firefox. Unless I am incredibly stupid and allow scrips universally, that eliminates many of the web-based threats to my PC. edit: PWI.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I can load any browser that will run under my chosen OS, anytime I wish. I'm not aware of anything preventing me from making a 'fresh choice' whenever I feel like it. I can't get rid of IE, but I don't have to use it (and don't).

IT_Goddess
IT_Goddess

http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/58644?source=NWWNLE_nlt_security_2010-03-18 or http://tinyurl.com/ycj57dz while I am sure I will get bashed here, it is interesting to see that some readers think that MS should include other browser options in their OSes... why? it is THEIR operating system! so why should they include FF or Opera? all these other browsers are fine... once you get used to them. but I find it very cumbersome to try to open a link in FF that has ActiveX controls and end up having to use IE to see the website. I've tested them all and still use IE. security breaches on my 5 computers? 0

sysop-dr
sysop-dr

I choose to use multiple browsers concurrently! I use Firefox, Chrome, IE and of all things BrowseX. Why, is a complicated answer but it boils down to, right tool for the job. IE 8 because there are still places on the net that do not work unless you use IE. I also use it exclusively for using most Microsoft web sites as they just work better in IE, probably because of a bias by the authors. I use Firefox for anything that requires security except those sites optimised for other browsers. I use Chrome for most things google and for some reason lately I have been running into sites that normally work fine but once in a while they don't format correctly or they lose their background or whatever and get real ugly. But they almost always work properly with chrome. BrowseX is neat in that I can get to the headers and other info a lot easier with it then any other browser, and I have edited the code to give me even more info as I go forward. Right tool for the job, and none of the current browsers now and for the forseeable future is able to do everything that is required and none of them are bug free.

Rob C
Rob C

They should be allowed to offer it, but not interwoven into Windows. To illustrate this point, there are quite a few people who image their hard drives. If your PC goes bad on you, and you use your image to replace it, you may use the trick of doing a 'Repair Install' so that it will work in different hardware. That trick will not work (very well), if you had IE7 or IE8 installed, as XP does not know how to handle those later versions, during the 'Repair Install'. If I was president of the world, I would legislate that MS must provide an OS, which has a core which is as simple as possible. After all, many businesses are dependent on the OS being as reliable as possible. PS If I was sent to Mars, and could only take one browser with me, It would be a coin toss, between FF and Opera.

melekali
melekali

...all the ones in the list including Maxthon and Flock (both feel like a redo of Firefox). I would choose Opera if it were fully compliant. Otherwise I would choose Firefox due to select add-ons I always use that make the browser invulnerable the way I use it.

john3347
john3347

I have tried to use Firefox (3 or 4 recent versions) and have sampled Opera and find neither of these approach the overall usability of Internet Explorer 7. Due to its head and shoulders higher degree of reliability and stability over anything else ever from Redmond, I am still using Windows 2000 as my OS of choice for certain applications. I am limited to IE6 with this OS! I am also using Windows 7 which does not receive really high scores from me as a user friendly or stable OS which is limited to the yet EXTREMELY unstable IE8. (I originally blamed my Windows 7 computer instability on Windows 7 itself, but the majority of the instability now appears to be browser related more so than OS related.) I have tried IE8 on a couple of XP machines and quickly returned to IE7 on them. I would love to see IE7 secured and available on all Microsoft OSs.

yodi.collins
yodi.collins

I use Firefox at work and Chrome at home. I stopped using MSIE years ago.

rdinning
rdinning

I choose Firefox because being an open project with a huge number of people working to improve it any serious bugs are quite quickly stamped out. Better still it has lots of useful add ons or plugins of which I use about half a dozen that I find really useful.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Then the Microsoft ghoulies get in through Windows Explorer, and can steal your life away in the night. Just be sure to wear clean underwear when computing, you never know when THEY will come to take you away. Reminds me of Floyd, "...and the worms dug into his brain!" LOL, or the Kinks "Paranoia self destroya!"

brian
brian

Part of the argument is about having control over an API. One of Microsoft's goals with the default inclusion of IE was to have a widely distributed API (ActiveX) that they were in control of and could deny access to other browser companies. The problem you have with ActiveX, where it prevents you from using other browsers, is exactly one of the nasty side effects that has some people up in arms about the issue. In my opinion including a choice of web browser is only going to confuse non-technical people. I think the correct answer to the problem is to legislate against closed, proprietary APIs. Microsoft should be allowed to continue including IE, but should not be allowed to keep the ActiveX API to themselves. In general I think it should not be legal to add browser-specific support for handling certain kinds of content unless that support is made available to other browsers. The REAL cause of the problem was when web developers looked at the ActiveX API, saw that it was closed and proprietary and would only run their web apps on Microsoft's browser, and developed their web content for it anyway. Same for the Microsoft-tainted Java implementation. No sane web developer should think it's a good idea to develop your web apps such that they only work on one browser. I think part of that problem was Mac and Linux couldn't really be taken very seriously back then, so the companies developed ActiveX content thinking a small loss due to browser incompatibility was worth a large gain due to enhanced content. The end result of that now has me refusing to install Silverlight, or any MS-proprietary web content handling system. Web sites that develop their content to that standard can just lose me as a customer. I think it's worth the inconvenience to do my part to prevent that kind of thing taking hold.

brian
brian

Let's face it. If Windows did not ship with a web browser, a lot of initial system setup would become VERY difficult. I'm all for choosing things other than IE, but I still need IE to download the installers for them.

john3347
john3347

WHAAAT???? By your reasoning, Ford should be banned from selling a Ford car with a Ford engine! This makes no sense. Don't like Ford's engines? Don't buy Ford cars. Don't like Window's browser? Don't buy Windows. Problem solved! If the consumer would exercise consumer power in their buying habits instead of crying "legislate something to protect me from myself", we would not be discussing these issues because they would not exist.

GraemeLeggett
GraemeLeggett

Don't like MS products, use something different. They are only subject to these requirements because they hold a dominant market position. No-one whinges about Safari on the Mac - unless they haven't understood the need for controls on a monopolistic supplier

melekali
melekali

...I do have a choice in Windows and at present I use Firefox as my default.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

As you said yourself, it's up to the developer to incorporate cross browser functionality in their pages. I have dropped JAVA from a lot of pages I design these days, and have IE specific pages that use it, of course even that is a choice of the user to click that warning bar and allow or deny page access to run scripts. Pages I trust, run scripts, pages I don't ask me if I want to run scripts. But it's not the government's decision to tell Ford and Jaguar they can't develop diagonal, spilt front braking calipers because others don't use them. If people didn't want to run scripts, they would use a different browser, as we see here. If people want to choose a proprietary browser so they can see information designed specifically to run in that browser, they should rightly be able to do so. It's not MS's obligation to follow others, it's the web developer. Don't want it? Don't use it. Don't like missing out on scripts? Use it. Like every other fair practice in life, you have a choice; nobody forces you to choose Windows. More people CHOOSE to use IE, therefore web developers CHOOSE to target that audience. Why do so many people think they are actually OWED something by these private companies that write their own software?

jfuller05
jfuller05

DVD-R, CD-R, jump-drive, file-sharing, all with your choice of browser.

Rob C
Rob C

IE could have been offered, without welding it into the OS

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

a copy of Netscape navigator by paying to download the file from a website on a friend's machine. Copied the file to a disc, and took it home to install it. Some months, I decided to try out Microsoft Internet Explorer 4, so I sent Microsoft Australia my five dollar money order, and a few weeks later the CD with IE 4 turned up in my mailbox, sent from Redmond. - I still have it, and it still works. Also, I could have downloaded both via a DOS or Windows 3.11 interface by using FTP, File Transfer Protocol, once the payment was accepted and I was given access. In some cases, they even emailed people the software, as an attached compressed file. All these systems were used to get people who didn't have browsers a browser to install.

Technous285
Technous285

Ever heard of it? Using IE to get Firefox is just using HTTP inside a GUI to use FTP to get the Firefox installer. Windows 3.x didn't ship with a browser pre-installed and coded into the OS, it had a browser on a separate disc for $5-10 (either IE from MS or Netscape Navigator), that you then used to install said browser to use the internet. That is exactly the same thing that goes on when you buy a game such as World of Warcraft or Star Trek Online, which have their own ways of connecting to the internet through a special client program (the thing you install and log in through) to access the game servers.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I agree with your point, by the way, but your analogy isn't the best. A car without an engine is useless. An operating system without a browser will still run every other application. Maybe a car stereo would be a better comparison, one you couldn't remove.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

But I thank you for your test results, even if irrelevant, sample size, configuration etc. As I said before though, I use IE because it is faster...for me...on my machine...today. There is nothing stored on my hard drive that I need to protect, there is nothing transmitted from this notebook that I have a need to protect. If for some reason, someone feels a need to monitor my actions, I pity them as they must be pretty f'in bored with life and have nothing better to do. If someone wants to spy on me and use that information against me in court, they better hope that they can slide such illegal tactics through the supreme court. As I said before, several times, I don't give a rat's arse about it. It is secure enough to keep out the riff raff, if anyone wants to go to lengths to monitor my use, steal my personal identity etc., then they are really going about it the hard way and would obviously be too stupid enough to effect my life anyway. Yuo know it's a lot like American companies and noncompete agreements. Canadian firms try to emulate big companies and start looking online for legal documents. They then find US noncompete agreements, which are not legally binding under Canadian laws as Canadian laws don't allow companies to restrict employees the way US companies do. So they go around with this fear that they need a non compete agreement, get told to FO when they ask people such as me to sign them, and for nothing. Competitive trust is already protected by the government, yet is HARDLY as restricting as some of the repressive, US systems in place. There simply is NO NEED for a non compete, no matter how scared the company gets. The government protects them and the employee with strictly enforced and clearly defined laws already. I know in some countries such protection is not offered, but not here. Am I immune to attack? Nope. Am I in fear of an attack? Nope, hack away.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

machines. 1. Linux - opens in a flash 2. Windows XP Pro with SP 1 only, no other updates. as fast as the Linux system. 3. Windows XP Pro with all the latest MS updates. It takes about three to four times longer to open. Call it as you wish, those results indicate something in changed Windows code between SP 1 and SP 3 that slows FF down. If you wish to stay with MSIE, then I strongly suggest you use the Avant browser, it uses the IE engine and adds some security overlays that make IE much less vulnerable. I used that for a few years before I switched to FF.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

WHen it was first gaining popularity it was fast to load and fast to use. There were a few tweaks you could run, a script to make it open faster etc, which helped. But now, several versions later, I find FF just opens too slow, though i haven't bothered tweaking it again as i just don't care about it as much anymore. FF is a good browser, don't get me wrong, but while IE was slow to startup and FF was lightning fast in comparisson, times have changed. IE opens in a heartbeat now and FF, again untweaked, is lethargic for me. For th eproprietary browser to be slow is an issue, when a third party can do better, But as the proprietary browser is now much faster, just as it rightly should be, I stick with it. Instead of blaming MS for what they have done that may slow others, I see them as improving on what they used to provide themselves, of COURSE it opens faster and well it should.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

a Windows system. My son has a couple of Windows XP Pro systems and finds that Fire Fox on the one with all the Microsoft updates is much slower and use a lot more memory than the same version of Fire Fox on the system with just Service Pack 1 - damned if we know why. But he has noticed it hasn't been the same on Windows since the .NET update fiasco.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

But these days, I find it slow and restrictive for the mmiltimedia content I HAVE to view, unless adding thrid party lugins that are no better/safer than IE either. So with the inegerent security in Windows today, third party protection and some common sense as to what I transmit and view. I see no issues now and no reason to don a tinfoil hat to keep MS at bay.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

You seem confused, there's no T in the beginning of wit.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

but, due to inertia, I was a long time making the final dump of Windows. And then, it was a result of the accumulated problems with XP and forced changes from MS - mainly WGA constantly screwing me up because I refused to run atuo stuff ups. By then, the accumulated cases "Why do I put up with this shit?" Had reached a critical mass, and that was the last straw of the pile that include Windows sending info back to Redmond, default set up allowing Redmond access when they want, more back doors than the White House and environs, and more hidden holes than a house infected with white ants. I'd been using it for over a decade and didn't want to change at all, but was forced to. Edit to add, Before I gace up with Windows I'd used Fire Fox as my browser for a couple of years, and Avant Browser (a MSIE overlay) for some years before that.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

So what you are saying is that we shouldn't mark posts for deletion anymore? :D

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I thought you always said that the inability to offer a restore CD was your reason for not using Windows anymore. Or was it that the licencing cost was too high. Or was it that it was too slow (but then you realized that they were well beyond Vista now). You seem to have many reasons for not using Windows, some valid and some not, but that's irrelevant. NO matter what your beef, you jump in saying THAT's why you stopped using Windows. I don't understand why you expend so much energy in these topics that you simply have no interest in.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

You seem to be aware that it can connect to teh Internet, as most Windows users do, thus it is not connecting without people's knowledge. Approval, if you don't approve of Windows going online, don't use Windows. Pretty simple really. I don't find Explorer to be malware, I don't think it is infesting my PC with viruses and porn ads. I know it CAN access the Internet, so it IS with my knowledge and my approval. Does it ask me everytime it has connectivity? Nope, and it better bloody not, just leave me to my work. Does it offer a portal for some malicious code to be executed on? Yes, and so does every other other OS known to man.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

in 'Nail the Spammer'. :D Now, not only do I get double (4) points for the ones I mark and delete, I get two points for the ones you guys mark that I delete. ]:) Long live the Queen! :^0

Ron K.
Ron K.

I've gotten that with XP. I'm not using Zonealarm's firewall now so I've no idea what's really happening behind the scenes. I've grown tired of worrying about it. Security via apathy.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

editions of Windows that does things like that, which is one reason why I don't run Windows now, so this is NOT a problem I have - that odd sound you hear is me gloating.

Ron K.
Ron K.

The TR logo looks good on you.

Ron K.
Ron K.

With Zonelabs Zonealarm installed I've seen where Windows Explorer wants to act as a server. Why it does I don't know but it was doing that without warning.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I also have many other apps that like visiting the Internet, and some I even allow to do so at their own will, HEAVEN FORBID!!!

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

At my wit's end, I like to think I have more wit than that. It just gets more and more boring, redundant, whiny every year. Nobody forces ANYONE, to buy a Windows box. It is an optional operating system as are all operating systems, save the more proprietary MAC. Most of these Windows whiners build their own whiteboxes and install Linux anyway, even if Windows was completely unattached from Explorer, they stilll wouldn't use it and would whine about the start up sound or boot process instead. As for Microsoft's lawyers, yes they have ot have some credibility to enter their firld of expertise to begin with. That doesn't mean that their information is accurate though, successful lawyers can make a valid argument out of anything. I don't disagree that Windows is open to exploits, just as any other operating system on Earth is. But computing, like walking down the street and using your credit or debit card in the corner store, also offers a great level of risk, which is hardly a topic of debate more than an issue simple user awareness.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

kernel and cannot be removed now, without a major rewriting of the whole kernel; and it's what they use to run the Explorer program that you brows the files with. Anyway, that's what Microsoft have submitted, under oath, to the EU courts to justify the inclusion of a browser choice program instead of the total removal of IE from Windows. Now, I know I ALWAYS take what the Windows marketing people have to say with a HUGE block of salt, but this was the Microsoft legal staff, and they do have a little bit of credibility.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

Windows Explorer likes to visit the Internet. Which strikes me as a remarkably bad thing.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Seriously that has to be the weakest and most pathetic argument Ive read to date. Was just discussing with friends yesterday, about how people are running our of valid excuses to 'dis Windows these days, and you just offered the pinnacle of such weak arguments. IE is not built into Windows, even though you feel it is one and the same as WE. You even phrased your comment to illustrated that IE and Windows Exporer are the same program with a different UI. You expectation to buy something proprietary from a privately owned company and then have them offer it so that you can use whatever you want and not be forced to use their own software is laughable. What other industry does such a system work? That's what Linux is for; the paranoid and those who think antiestablishmentarianism is trendy and cool. oh and your car analogy is simply laughable, surely you could have done better than that. Since when was a vehicle manufacturer not allowed to offer a proprietary system that wasn't tied into the cars basic operation? You do know that the exact same iddue you offered is actually a reality for many manufacturer's? Radio's are often wired into the vehicle's anti-theft and disabling systems. If you remove it, you need to add a patch or rewire a new deck in to the alarm's disable controls or else the car will not start or the alarm needs to be disabled permanently. Ford, Chevy, Chrysler and others have done it for years now. You can always remove Windows from a PC and put whatever the hell you want to in it, but most people with such fears simply build their own box to begin with anyway. If your point is simply that someone could go to lengths and exploit the system, the same goes for any operatinng system, banking system, educational system or any SYSTEM ever designed by man for any application at all, ever. In fact, there are a thousand FAR simpler ways to obtain your personal credentials anyway.

Technous285
Technous285

Is the basic IE core just with a different "face" for one to do file management. It's been like that since Win95. Having IE built in to the Windows OS is like having a stereo hardwired into the car in a manner that you could NOT start the engine without the stereo installed. Win7 "removing" the IE8 interface is like taking the faceplate off the stereo, but still having the stereo wired into the ignition controls.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

All cars come with stock stereos. You could like the engine and drivability, but you will buy it even if the stereo sucks, the first comment is always, "I can replace that easy enough". You can upgrade one by removing and replacing the included system. SO it wouldn't need to be a stereo you can't remove, with Win7 installing IE is optional. You can also remove the OS completely and install anything you like, using teh same hardware as before. SO it is a lot like a car, wiht options. You can swap engines, tires, suspension, stereo, add pin striping, add a sunroof, add a spoiler etc. Initially you have a choice of stock hardare and just a couple of configurations. Just like a PC and a choice between 32 or 64 bit, Home, Professional and Enterprise editions, 256 or 512MB GPU, 3, 4, 6, 8GB RAM, etc.

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