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Web Browsers

A web br owser is a software a pplication for retriev ing, pr esenting, and tra v er sing inform ation r esources on th e World Wide Web. An inform ation r esource is identified by a Uniform Resour ce Identifier (URI) and m ay be a web page, image, v ideo, or oth er piece of content. Hy perlin ks pr esent in r esources ena ble user s to easily nav iga te th eir browsers to related resour ces.

Although br owsers ar e prima rily intended to access the Wor ld Wide Web, they ca n a lso be used to a ccess inform ation prov ided by web serv er s in priv ate networ ks or files in file sy stems.

The m ajor web browser s ar e Windows Intern et Explor er , Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Google Chrome, and Opera. A Web browser is a softwar e program that inter prets th e coding la nguage of the World Wide Web in graphic form , display ing the tran slation rather tha n th e coding. This allows any one to br owse the Web by simple point and clicknav igation, by pa ssing the need to know com ma nds used in softwar e languages. The World Wide Web is wr itten in Hy pertext Marku p La nguage (HTML). Viewed with softwar e other than a Web browser ,HTML looks nothing like its graphic transla tion. To take a peek, right-click on any em pty space in a webpage. A sm all pop-up m enu will a ppea r. Ch oose View Pa ge Sou rce in Fir eFox, or View Source in Micr osofts Inter net Explorer (IE). When finished v iewing the HTML coding, click the window closed to return to the Web br owser window. The first successful graph ica l Web browser , Mosaic, was wr itten by Marc Andreessen and Er ic Bina in 1 992 and relea sed in 1 993 . At that tim e, the only popula r graphical online ser v ices wer e offer ed by Pr odigy , Am er ica Online (AOL), and Com puserv . These com pan ies were closed networ ks tha t prov ided their own pr opr ietar y content, message boards, email program s, and inter fa ces, and did not prov ide a ccess to the Internet. The Mosaic Web browser opened the Internet to th e gener al public. It prov ided a plea sur able m ea ns to nav igate the

The Mosaic Web browser opened the Internet to th e gener al public. It prov ided a plea sur able m ea ns to nav igate the World Wide Web and was fr ee for per sonal use. To compete with th e appeal of the Inter nets worldwide network, closed networks h ad to intr oduce a pipeline to the In ter net and supply a graphic Web br owser to interpr et HTML. By th e time this occurr ed in the mid 1 990s, Andreessen had par tnered with Jim Clark, form er founder of Silicon Graph ics, to create a new flagship Web br owser called Netscape. Netscape r em ained the Web browser of choice until Microsoft began pr e-packaging their own Web browser into the Windows oper ating sy stem. Internet Explorer (IE) was infer ior to Netscape in ma ny way s, par ticularly criticized for ongoing secu rity issues, nu merous bugs, and a la ck of conform ity to Web standard pr otocols. While this tu rned off m any in the online comm unity , the flood of new computer u ser s knew too little to be aware or concerned. By 1 998, Inter net Explorer dom inated a s the m ost ubiquitou s Web browser, due in large part to Micr osofts a bility to pr e-load it into new com puter sy stem s. At the sa me tim e, Netscape, then known as Netscape Communicator, released its sour ce code to the public. The Web browser went through a m assiv e rewr ite ov er the next few y ear s. It em er ged as the open source Web browser known as Mozilla, under the Mozilla Organization, th en owned by AOL. By 2 003 , AOL pa ssed off ov ersight to the newly form ed Mozilla Foundation , which rena med the Web br owser to Phoenix and later to FireFox. While the Microsoft Web browser h eld the m arket unchallenged in a ny grea t measure fr om 1 998 to 2 003 , pr oduction to fur ther im prov e IE effectiv ely sta lled. Mea nwhile Mozilla/Phoenix/FireFox becam e the Web browser of choice am ong sav v y com puter users. Its expanded feature set, im prov ed functionality , increased a dher ence to standa rds, and higher security ma ke it super ior in m any way s to IE 6.0. Some believ e th at the gr owing pu blic mar ket share in FireFox influ enced the dev elopm ent of Windows Inter net Explor er (WIE) v ersion 7 .0, to be r eleased in fa ll 2 006. The new Micr osoft Web br owser will incor por ate som e of the featur es that hav e m ade Fir eFox so popu lar a mong its user s, a nd it will also be com pliant with Microsofts new oper ating sy stem, Vista. Due to the proprieta ry extensions tha t Micr osoft builds into its Web br owser, som e webpa ges do not display correctly in oth er Web browsers. This occurs when webma sters design websites using IEs pr opr ietary Web browser coding rather than standard Internet conv entions a nd protocols. What som e see as Microsofts pa ssiv e-aggressiv e effor t to encour age the Inter net to becom e a pr oprietary env ironment where only Micr osoft pr oducts function cor rectly is, from an econom ic sta ndpoint, an unhealthy path for consumers and a sour ce of great cr iticism. Conv ersely , the appeal of FireFox is that it is a n open source project tha t confor ms to Inter net standards and protocols. This not only inv ites fair com petition, but the coding can be exam ined by a ny one, which also benefits the public. Program m ers located worldwide can com m unicate in online, public for ums to discu ss loopholes, back doors, bugs, and oth er v ulner abilities that Mozilla r egularly patches in a tim ely fashion. A pr opr ietar y Web br owser like IE, not exam ined by a ny one but Micr osoft coders, can hide v ulnera bilities tha t can go unaddressed for ex ten ded periods of time, potentia lly putting m illions of users a t risk. Microsoft has also been criticized for being slow to prov ide pa tch es for v uln era bilities, ev en after they hav e been publicly exposed. For these and other rea sons, m any sa v v y users pr efer open sou rce progr am s when giv en the choice, including a n open source Web browser . Micr osofts Internet Explorer is fr ee to downloa d from Micr . The Mozilla Fir eFox Web browser is fr ee fr om Som e users keep both Web br owsers installed a nd only u se Internet Explorer when a page r equ ires it. Although IE a nd Fir eFox a re not the only Web browsers, they a re th e two most popular. As a thir d alternativ e, Opera Softwar e, loca ted in Oslo, Norway , offers the Opera Web browser , a proprieta ry browser released in 1 996. Opera was originally offered as shareware, then adwa re, a nd finally , as of Septem ber 2 005, freewa re. Opera ha s m ainta ined a sm all mar ket shar e, and as of 2 006, it is partnering with Nintendo to pr ov ide an Inter net Web browser for th e Dual

sm all mar ket shar e, and as of 2 006, it is partnering with Nintendo to pr ov ide an Inter net Web browser for th e Dual Scr een, Dev elopers Sy stem (DS) gam e console. There ar e also v arious other Web br owsers av ailable through sea rch engines.

Types of web browser

Internet Explorer This is the m ost widely -used web browser by people ar ound the world. It was dev eloped by Microsoft in 1 99 4 a nd released in 1 995 as a supportiv e packa ge to Micr osoft Windows line of oper ating sy stem s. It is presently known as Windows Internet Explor er, wa s form erly called Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE), a nd more is com monly known a s IE. People hav e a m isconception tha t browsing the Internet is possible only thr ough Inter net Explorer . They are una wa re of v arious web browser s tha t are av ailable. This simply prov es that Internet Explor er is used by the m ajority . According to statistics, its usage shar e from 1 99 9 to 2 003 -04 wa s around 95%. Since then, there has been a lot of com petition in the ma rket, with man y softwar e com panies com ing up with web browsers that ch allenge IE in their features and usage. Micr osoft occa sionally releases u pdates to their prev iou s v ersions of IE, which ha v e som e enha nced capabilities. The latest v er sion is Internet Explor er 8 which is a free update. The 'fav icon', which is the fav or ites icon was introduced fir st in IE, and was later adopted by ma ny oth er web br owsers. Initially , IE did not support tabbed browsing, but today , it can be used ev en in the older v er sions, by insta lling toolbar s.

Mozilla Firefox It is owned by Mozilla Cor por ation and was the result of an experimenta tion. This br owser has gone thr ough m any na me changes due to nam e cla shes with other pr odu cts. 'Mozilla Fir efox' was officially annou nced in Febr uary 2 004. It was ear lier nam ed Phoenix, Fir ebird, and ev entua lly Fir efox. It is the second-most fam ous browser after Inter net Explorer , as there were a round 1 00 m illion downloads within a y ear of its release. Until Nov ember 2 008, 7 00 m illion downloads were r ecorded. Since the relea se of Fir efox, the sa le of Inter net Explor er ha s gone down drastically . It has ar ound 2 2 % of the m arket share at present. It has undergone m any upda tes a nd v ersion changes th at were m ade to impr ov e usability to the univ ersa l users. It can be used on most opera ting sy stem s, but was found to be m ore pr one to v u lnerabilities. Howev er, the problems were fix ed in the newer v ersions. As it is an open source softwar e, its sour ce code is av aila ble,thus allowing ev ery one to access the code. It supports tabbed browsing that allows the u ser to open m ultiple sites in a single window. Session stora ge is a lso an im por tant fea tur e of Firefox, which a llows the u ser to regain access to the open tabs after he ha s closed the browser win dow. Apart from these, there ar e ma ny user -friendly features that Fir efox offer s.

Safari This is a web browser from Apple Inc., which is com patible with Ma c OS X operating sy stem , Micr osoft Windows, and the iPhone OS. Safari wa s relea sed by Apple in Januar y 2 003 a s a public beta. As of March 2 009, the ma rket shar e of Safari h as gone up to 8.2 3 %. The Safa ri 4 beta relea se claims to hav e m any features like VoiceOv er Screen Reader, that rea ds aloud ev ery th ing th at takes place on the scr een, with text and web links. It also has features like CSS Canv a s, Liv eConnect, XML 1 .0, and Jav a Scr ipt support, and Cov er Flow. 'Gra mm ar Checking' is an interesting built-in featur e, which perfor ms a gr am ma r check on the ty ped text a nd giv es suggestions to cor rect y our sentence if wr ong. If y ou need to fill an online form with y our per son al inform ation, AutoFill is a featur e that automa tically does that for y ou, with the help of inform ation th at is stored in y our address book or Outlook. Safa ri supports a ll the functions tha t are av a ilable in oth er web br owsers.


This web browser was dev eloped by Oper a Softwar e in 1 996. It is a well-known br owser that is m ainly used in Internetactiv a ted m obile ph ones, PDAs, and sm artphones. Opera Mini and Oper a Mobile a re the br owsers used in PDAs and sm artphones. It is com pa tible with m any operating sy stem s such a s Solaris, Linux, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows. Though it is not a r enowned com puter web br owser, it is popula r as a web br owser in m obile dev ices. It is a lso com pa tible with Sy m bian and Windows Mobile oper ating sy stem s for sm artphones and PDAs. Opera 9.64 which is the latest v ersion, pr ov ides a n e-m ail client known a s the Opera Mail. The com pa ny cla im s that Opera is the fastest browser in the world. It a lso h as som e comm on fu nctions like zoom and fit-to-width, content blocking, tabs a nd sessions, download ma nager with BitTorrent, and m ouse gestures.

Google Chrome This web br owser wa s dev eloped by Google. Its beta and comm er cial v er sions wer e r eleased in Septem ber 2 008 for Micr osoft Windows. It ha s soon be com e th e four th-m ost widely used web br owser with a m arket shar e of 1 .2 3 %. The browser v er sions for Mac OS X are under dev elopment. The browser options are v ery sim ilar to that of Safa ri, the settings locations a re sim ilar to Intern et Explor er 7 , and the window design is based on Windows Vista . Netscape Navigator/Net scape It was dev eloped by Netscape Comm unications Cor pora tion and was m ost popular in the 1 990s. Exceptiona l featur es were pr ov ided a t the tim e of its relea se, wh ich helped it r ise to fam e with a m ar ket share of m ore than 50% in the 1 990s. It was com patible with alm ost ev ery operating sy stem . Since 2 002 , it has a lm ost disappear ed fr om the ma rket due to strong competition fr om riv als like Inter net Explor er, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, etc. It ha d undergone ma ny v ersion changes to maintain its sta ke in the ma rket, none of which wer e v er y successfu l.

Although there a re ma ny web browser s av aila ble and m any m ore a re likely to ar riv e in futur e, only those which are exciting and u ser friendly will be a ble to sur v iv e ma rket com petition and hold on to a substantial m arket sh are.

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