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Techradar: Browsers, browsers, browsers

A whole bunch of browser-related things up on Techradar today. First of all: Come in Internet Explorer, your time is up:

Imagine if the browser wars were a horse race. Safari’s owner is a bit up himself, but the horse is young, sleek and hungry. Chrome is probably still a little bit too young, but he’s fast and full of potential. Firefox turns up late as always, but it’s the bookies’ and the public’s favourite. And Internet Explorer is a donkey.

It’s the result of two lots of tests, one of which compared Safari, Firefox, Chrome and IE on a reasonably well-specced PC, and one which looked at Netbooks (sorry, I meant to update the link days ago). Internet Explorer did badly in both of them:

If browsers were cars, it seems that Safari would be a Bugatti Veyron while Internet Explorer would be a knackered old Austin Allegro. Towing a caravan. On fire.

10 replies on “Techradar: Browsers, browsers, browsers”

It’s worth mentioning one problem we encountered with Safari: its text smoothing. Unlike other browsers, which go with whatever Windows is using, Safari offers three of its own text smoothing options as well as the Windows setting. We didn’t get on with any of them: to our eyes, the choice was between blurry, blurry, blurry or blurry, which is why we’re giving Chrome the gold star here.

Good article by Joel Spolsky here explaining that blurriness. Have to say, it never bothers me, while Windows’s fit-the-font-to-the-pixels philosophy regularly pisses me the hell off.

Not that I’ll use Safari. Tried version 1, and too much of it was broken. I particularly remember that it rendered almost every bit of Easyjet’s site except that it couldn’t process the click on the very very last “Buy ticket” button. I’m sure they’ve fixed lots of it by now, but too late, as far as I’m concerned.

That’s one thing you don’t mention in the article, by the way: if software B is better than software A but you’re already using software A, to what extent is the improvement that results from switching offset by the hassle of learning a new interface and setting up all your preferences? If Chrome go ahead and introduce all the same plugins as Firefox, I still won’t care, because I’ve already installed them on Firefox and no doubt Chrome’s equivalents would have different names and I’d have to find out what they were before I could install them. They don’t just need extensions; they need a function that automatically checks your Firefox extensions and installs Chrome equivalents.

Haha. Making software interesting is hard!

> Have to say, it never bothers me, while Windows’s fit-the-font-to-the-pixels philosophy regularly pisses me the hell off.

Varies from computer to computer, I found. On a 20″ philips monitor it’s awful, on a wee netbook it’s crystal clear.

>if software B is better than software A but you’re already using software A, to what extent is the improvement that results from switching offset by the hassle of learning a new interface and setting up all your preferences?

That varies from person to person, so it’s impossible to say. Would you go without AdBlock plus if Gmail were a fifth faster? Is the lack of fullscreen browsing enough to stop you putting Chrome on a netbook? No two people will have the same answers.

Incidentally one of the commenters on the site makes a good point: the version of Chrome coming down the pipes (2.x) fixes pretty much everything that’s wrong with the current version. Right now it’s mainly about speed, but there’s lots of stuff coming.

> That varies from person to person, so it’s impossible to say.

That’s true for minor differences, but it’s still worth mentioning for broad issues like whether Firefox imports all your bookmarks and history from IE. The fact that it does has no doubt helped its take-up. What I meant to say was simply the general observation that the software that comes first has a much easier time than everyone who follows. For instance, Microsoft had to get Excel to run macros written in Lotus 123’s macro language in order to break into the spreadsheet market. Firefox didn’t have to worry about matching IE’s plugins, cause there weren’t any, but anyone who comes after Firefox has to match theirs. Sure, some of their potential customers won’t care, but enough will to make a difference.

It’s Firefox’s extensibility that’ll keep me there. I try not to install too many plugin-ins but Adblock Plus etc really make the difference.

However, I’m going to give both Safari and Chrome a good try. Firefox is suffering from bloat and the extra speed has to be a good thing

> Firefox didn’t have to worry about matching IE’s plugins, cause there weren’t any, but anyone who comes after Firefox has to match theirs. Sure, some of their potential customers won’t care, but enough will to make a difference.

Oh, absolutely. One of the reasons I’ve marked Chrome down on netbooks (link isn’t up yet) is that it doesn’t have full screen viewing – which IMO is essential on a small device. That’s coming soon, but until it does you’ve got to choose between Chrome’s speed or Firefox’s F11 and content blocking. For me, the latter wins (so far – the incoming Chrome is ace, albeit a wee bit away still).

For work, FireFTP is a deal-breaker for me. I use it a lot to upload print-res pics, and doing it in-browser is a massive time saver – and makes a bigger difference than, say, JavaScript performance.

> I suspect that there’s something lost in translation for Mr User there.

You think? :)

Yeah, it looks great but by all accounts it’s a long way from being ready.

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