It Might Not Be Your Computer That’s Slow, The Power Browsers: Chrome, Firefox, and Safari

Today there are really only three browsers and IE. And you might be surprised in the performance differences. There are pros and cons to each browser, but the war is being wagged very aggressively by Google. And if the number on my 2012 stats to-date are any indication, Chrome looks to be kicking ass. - 2012 year-to-date browser statistics

Okay, I didn’t add IE to my title on purpose. And if you are reading this in IE I hope you are a tiny bit miffed. And then I hope you see the light and get your ass to another browser. I don’t care how many IE versions they come out with, IE will always be Internet Exploder. Microsoft damned themselves to that monniker when they started trying to use IE’s dominance to kill java and universal-open-java implementations. But that’s another story.

And here is a quick TwitterVenn diagram to give us a read on which browsers are generating buzz. (Often this is a good indication of the adoption and evolution of a platform, if people are talking, there’s something of interest happening.)

may 2012 mentions of the top browsers

So what’s happening?

Here’s my read. (MHO only.)

Firefox is the browser of choice for developers. The plugins for FF (like Firebug, and FlashGot) are unequalled in Chrome or Safari.

Chrome is the FAST browser. And with the addition of Chrome-only plugins to make Google+ work better, Chrome is quickly becoming the browsing browser of choice. More importantly, Chrome is becoming the application front-end of choice for functionality and usability.

Safari is what Apple defaults to. And while it’s a fine browser there’s nothing really spectacular to recommend it over something else. And it’s the browser that’s native to the iPhone. So if you’re going to develop for the iPhone you’ve got to get everything Safari compliant.

IE is often the Windows default browser. And in some corporate environments it’s hard to run without IE. Sharepoint, for example, does not play well with non-IE browsers. (Funny note, WordPress wanted to change Sharepoint to Choakpoint.) That’s a bit of an echo of the death grip Microsoft used to have on the browser wars, as it was wrestling the breath and life out of Netscape Navigator. So Microsoft brought us IE and with it the legacy of bad-for-everyone-but-IE web developments. But they are no longer the big player. And I would guess their numbers will drop into the 5% range in the next year or so.  Today you can almost always tell the corporate visitors, because they are often using IE. Why would you use IE otherwise?

So in the next evolution of the web the BROWSER is going to become more transparent. I recently saw an article about the CLOUD vs the BROWSER. Imagine a world of apps, where your browser is no longer the gateway to the cloud that it is today. You’ve already got a bunch of those apps already.

As the next generation of browsers are being designed, the three major players are shaping their strategies for our futures. Gone will be the days when we had to test web project for all browsers AND IE. Because IE did so many wacky things you could count on IE problems that would not show up in any other browser. The open market is not very tolerant of exclusionary tactics. And the sooner IE dies the better for all of us. But of course, as long as there is Windows(tm) there will be IE. But I think you’d be better off making the transition today.

So today when I think I’m waiting on my cloud I very well could be waiting on my browser. In a quick experiment I started using FF again after an exclusive love affair with Chrome. While I welcomed my tools back, I was amazed at how S L O W  Firefox felt. Multi-threading? I don’t know. But I use Chrome with little or no thought danger, I open tabs while saving and filing in other windows. I open multiple instances. I just keep working Chrome until my entire system seems to slow down. Then I do something archaic. I shut everything down and reboot my system. And with Chrome I’m a long time between these hard restarts. While I was using FireFox recently I kept checking my system processes to make sure something else wasn’t running in the background.

I’m not ready to concede the laptop over to Chrome (ala Chromebook) but I am conscious that most of my work is done THRU the browser. And today Chrome does a much better job of keeping up with all the things I throw at it. And if you’re a Google+ user, you’re going to need a handful of essential Chrome plug-ins very soon. (See the Complete Google+ Page)

I’d love my Mac to be cloud-connected at the OS-level, rather than browser-enabled. Perhaps the MacOS folks have something like that in mind. Oh and one last thing you need to look at: Google Drive. It’s different and will enable a new level of Google Doc usage. I know Microsoft must be smelling smoke at this point. Office via subscription anyone?

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)
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Most people don’t really enjoy being mean; they do it because they can’t help it. (from Graham’s Hierarchy of Disagreement)

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