The question comes up often…What’s the best browser? The answer appears to change with the weather. Well, not really, but it does seem as if yesterday’s best is not today’s top performer. So, what’s really going on?
Internet browsers have been around for as long as the internet. In the early days, most Windows users gravitated to Internet Explorer (IE). It came free with each new Microsoft operating system and it fit the needs of most people. But as the internet grew, so did the demands of PC users. Other companies saw that browsers could be better, but more importantly, they saw an opportunity to make money on the advertising that was quickly taking hold on the web. Today there are a number of browsers to choose from. With so many choices, everyone wants to know; which is the best?
Before we delve into the “best” question, let’s look at market share. The interesting thing about market share for browsers is: it’s easy to measure (every time you use your browser, someone knows about it) and it’s always changing. Depending on who and where the market share is being measured, the results may look a little different, but even with all this variability; there are some facts that standout.
Chrome leads the pack amongst all browsers, with anywhere from 40 – 60% market share.
In most reports, Internet Explorer (IE) comes in a distant 2nd. And with each passing month, it appears to lose a little share, not surprising since it is replaced with Edge in Windows 10.
From an average of four studies I looked at, Firefox is tied at 2nd place with IE.
Safari comes in at 3rd place, or 4th depending on how you look at it.
Edge rounds out the top performers with about 3% market share. Edge has been increasing each of the last few months, as more and more users upgrade to Windows 10.
I should also mention Opera. Its’ market share is in the low single digits, but it has a dedicated user base.
All of the other browsers on the market, and there are many of them, collectively have a market share of no more than 3%. With that in mind, we will limit our discussion to the ones above.
Now, on to the best.
Safari and Opera tend to jump around between 3rd and 4th place in most rankings. Safari tends to have a loyal following with Apple users. It’s not the fastest in the group but it has good security features (as do all of these top browsers) and being an Apple product, it has excellent support. Opera has been around for 20 years, early versions had unique and distinctive features that were appreciated by many knowledgeable users, but recent versions are looking more like all of the others. Opera still has a loyal user base and continues to perform well.
Internet Explorer, even though it is being phased out, still shares space with the top performers, usually holding 5th or 6th place.
Edge is the newest member in this group. It has good reviews due to its straightforward, no frills user interface. Edge does not rob your PC of system resources, which should translate to speedy performance, however; it’s not there yet. By most observations, with the growth of Windows 10 will come improvements in Edge. It has the potential to become a top performer in the near future.
Which one is right for you?
Remember, all of these browsers are free. And, all of them can be downloaded with ease, which is why many users utilize more than one browser. In fact, it makes sense to have at least two different browsers available for those times when a website just doesn’t display properly. When that happens, just open a different browser and problem solved. So, don’t dwell too long on making a choice. Download a few of them and have fun.
Resources: Want to check my sources, here's where all the information came from. PCMag, TechRadar, ConsumerSearch, pcAdvisor, and a couple others I forgot to write down.