1. Google Chrome
Google Chrome (commonly known simply as Chrome) is a freeware web browser developed by Google LLC. It was first released on September 2, 2008, for Microsoft Windows, and was later ported to Linux, macOS, iOS and Android. Google Chrome is also the main component of Chrome OS, where it serves as a platform for running web apps.
Google releases the majority of Chrome’s source code as the Chromium open-source project; however, Chrome itself is proprietary software. One component that is not open-source is the built-in Adobe Flash Player (that Chrome has disabled by default since September 2016). Chrome used the WebKit layout engine until version 27. As of version 28, all Chrome ports except the iOS port use Blink, a fork of the WebKit engine.
As of 2018, StatCounter estimates that Google Chrome has a 66% worldwide usage share of web browsers as a desktop browser. It also has 56% market share across all platforms combined, because it has over 50% share on smartphones; and thus Chrome is the most used browser in virtually all countries (most exceptions in Africa). Its success has led to Google expanding the “Chrome” brand name on various other products such as Chrome OS, Chromecast, Chromebook, Chromebit, Chromebox and Chromebase.
Mozilla Firefox (or simply Firefox) is a free and open-source web browser developed by Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiary, Mozilla Corporation. Firefox is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, and BSD operating systems. Its sibling, Firefox for Android, is available for Android. Firefox uses the Gecko layout engine to render web pages, which implements current and anticipated web standards. In 2016, Firefox began incorporating new technology under the code name Quantumto promote parallelism and a more intuitive user interface. An additional version, Firefox for iOS, was released on November 12, 2015, due to platform restrictions, it uses the WebKit layout engine instead of Gecko, as with all other iOS web browsers.
Firefox was created in 2002 under the codename “Phoenix” by the Mozilla community members who desired a standalone browser, rather than the Mozilla Application Suite bundle. During its beta phase, Firefox proved to be popular with its testers and was praised for its speed, security, and add-ons compared to Microsoft‘s then-dominant Internet Explorer 6. Firefox was released on November 9, 2004, and challenged Internet Explorer‘s dominance with 60 million downloads within nine months. Firefox is the spiritual successor of Netscape Navigator, as the Mozilla community was created by Netscape in 1998 before their acquisition by AOL.
Firefox usage grew to a peak of 32% at the end of 2009, temporarily making version 3.5 the world’s most popular browser. Usage then declined in competition with Google Chrome. As of March 2018, Firefox has 11.6% usage share as a “desktop” browser, according to StatCounter, making it the second most popular such web browser; usageacross all platforms is lower at 5.44% (and then 4th most popular overall). Firefox is still the most popular desktop browser in Cuba (even most popular overall at 62.77%) and Eritrea with 78.3% and 91% of the market share, respectively. According to Mozilla, as of December 2014, there were half a billion Firefox users around the world.
Safari is a web browser developed by Apple based on the WebKit engine. First released in 2003 with Mac OS X Panther, a mobile version has been included in iOS devices since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. It is the default browser on Apple devices. A Windows version, now discontinued, was available from 2007 to 2012.
Opera is a web browser for Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems developed by Norwegian company Opera Software AS. It uses the Blink layout engine. An earlier version using the Presto layout engine is still available and runs on FreeBSDsystems.
Opera was conceived at Telenor as a research project in 1994 and was bought by Opera Software in 1995. Initially a commercial web browser, Opera became freeware in 2005. Before 2013, Opera used the Presto layout engine. The Presto versions of Opera received 13 different awards. In 2013, Opera changed its layout engine to Blink, the layout engine of its competitor Google Chrome. These new versions were criticized for lacking popular user interface elements and for the layout engine change.
In 2016, Opera Software AS was sold to a Chinese consortium. The parent company, the similarly named Opera Software ASA, changed its name to Otello Corporation.
Features of the Opera web browser include private browsing, tabbed browsing, download manager, mouse gestures and browser extensions.
Internet Explorer[a] (formerly Microsoft Internet Explorer[b] and Windows Internet Explorer,[c] commonly abbreviated IE or MSIE) is a series of graphical web browsers developed by Microsoft and included in the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, starting in 1995. It was first released as part of the add-on package Plus! for Windows 95 that year. Later versions were available as free downloads, or in service packs, and included in the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) service releases of Windows 95 and later versions of Windows. The browser is discontinued, but still maintained.
Internet Explorer was one of the most widely used web browsers, attaining a peak of about 95% usage share by 2003. This came after Microsoft used bundling to win the first browser war against Netscape, which was the dominant browser in the 1990s. Its usage share has since declined with the launch of Firefox (2004) and Google Chrome (2008), and with the growing popularity of operating systems such as Android and iOS that do not run Internet Explorer. Estimates for Internet Explorer’s market share are about 3.04% across all platforms or by StatCounter’s numbers ranked 6th, while on desktop, the only platform it’s ever had significant share (i.e. excluding mobile, and not counting Xbox) it’s ranked 3rd at 6.97%, just after Firefox (others place IE 2nd with 10.86% just ahead of), as of August 2018 (browser market share is notoriously difficult to calculate). Microsoft spent over US$100 million per year on Internet Explorer in the late 1990s, with over 1,000 people working on it by 1999.
Versions of Internet Explorer for other operating systems have also been produced, including an Xbox 360 version called Internet Explorer for Xbox and for platforms Microsoft no longer supports: Internet Explorer for Mac and Internet Explorer for UNIX(Solaris and HP-UX), and an embedded OEM version called Pocket Internet Explorer, later rebranded Internet Explorer Mobilemade for Windows Phone, Windows CE, and previously, based on Internet Explorer 7 for Windows Mobile.
On March 17, 2015, Microsoft announced that Microsoft Edge would replace Internet Explorer as the default browser on its Windows 10 devices. This effectively makes Internet Explorer 11 the last release (however IE 10 and 9 also get security updates as of 2018). Internet Explorer, however, remains on Windows 10 primarily for enterprise purposes. Since January 12, 2016, only Internet Explorer 11 has been supported. Support varies based on the operating system’s technical capabilities and its support lifecycle.
The browser has been scrutinized throughout its development for use of third-party technology (such as the source code of Spyglass Mosaic, used without royalty in early versions) and security and privacy vulnerabilities, and the United States and the European Union have alleged that integration of Internet Explorer with Windows has been to the detriment of fair browser competition.