Set your mind back, if you will, to the mid-1990s. The internet was a pretty new thing and if you were going to get online, you had to decide on the two big titans of the day: Netscape and Internet Explorer. Netscape was nimble and had a robust plug-in architecture. Internet Explorer “just worked.” Yeah, I know even typing that sounds weird.
Browser wars, part 1
Microsoft won the first round of the browser wars. Its status as the dominant computer company on the planet meant it could not only give away Internet Explorer for free, but bundle it with every Windows PC. In the days when you couldn’t download software quickly, that was important.
In fact Microsoft succeeded so spectacularly that they almost lost the whole company over it. Netscape was driven out of business, eventually becoming part of AOL which was, back then, “still a thing.” Microsoft got sued by the US Department of Justice and almost had to split up. Wow, things sure have changed in 20 years, right?
Browser wars: The Browser Strikes Back
For a while, it seemed like things were settled. But Internet Explorer began to age quickly, and age badly too. Out of the ashes of Netscape came Firefox in 2004. Netscape itself was based heavily on one of the first web browsers, Mosaic. The people who created Mosaic saw what Netscape did and created a new version called Mozilla. Mozilla formed — and still forms — the backbone of Firefox.
In the days when Internet Explorer was slow, Firefox was fast. It brought new features, something that Internet Explorer hadn’t done in seemingly forever. It didn’t take long for Firefox to become the browser of choice, especially since by 2004 it was possible to download it in under 2 minutes.
Firefox’s reign didn’t last long though. Google was the new hotness, rolling out free products left and right in the 2000s. Their Chrome browser was first released in 2008 and chances are it’s what you’re using right now.
The Other Guys
In the meantime, a few other browsers did try to grab a little market share. Opera took the stuff you liked about Chrome and made it more stable and better with memory. Microsoft gave up on Internet Explorer and created a new browser called Edge. It comes free on all Windows PCs and most people use it to download Chrome and that’s about it.
There were even a few years where Apple tried to push its Safari browser onto PCs. That effort just fell flat.
So are the browser wars over? Did Chrome win? It sure seems like that.
Truth is, all browsers today are pretty good. Even Edge.
The Windows 10 version of Edge is actually pretty good. Sure, every time you use it to go to a Google site you’ll get nagged about installing Chrome. But truth is it’s fast and pretty good on battery life. If it was all you had you wouldn’t mind it.
Firefox got a complete rewrite a few versions ago and you know what? It’s pretty good too. For a while, Chrome was getting slower and slower and Firefox was actually catching up. Personally I think the visual design of it isn’t really as slick but just like Edge, if it was all I had I wouldn’t mind.
Choose the browser that you like. If you want something clean, choose Edge. Want to get rid of nag messages? Choose Chrome. If you want to be different from the pack, choose Firefox or Opera. Bottom line be happy and don’t worry about the browser wars.