This week, Microsoft announced the official release of their latest internet travesty: Internet Explorer 8. Honestly, I’m impressed. I would have never guessed that in 2009, Microsoft would still be attempting to improve one of the worst, most bug-riddled, ass-backwards and incomprehensible web browsers in the history of the Internet.
For the millions of dollars and man-hours they no doubt threw into this idiotic project, couldn’t they have just bought out another company and raped an already working product into the babbling, disjointed mess we’ve come to expect from Bill and his boys? It probably would have at least improved profit margins. But I suppose this is what they call “Perseverance.” I bet Bill’s got one of those inspirational posters hanging up right beside his desk.
Microsoft likes to tout Internet Explorer, despite all of its shortcomings, as the “most-used web browser in the world.” Yes, it is technically that. Because, frankly, middle-aged men who are using the internet primarily to find videos of eleven-year-old girls having sex with giant tortoises to masturbate to just don’t have the time to consider the intricacies of browser technology. As long as it has a Tab Function for more convenient viewing, they get by alright. The same goes for housewives reading soap opera gossip and high school girls writing fan-fiction about that robot-looking kid from Twilight.
Internet Explorer is the most popular browser in the world, but only because it’s the default browser on the biggest operating system in the world. And you know Thesaurus.com’s synonyms for “default”? Absence, dearth, defect and inadequacy. The “default” is the bottom of the barrel, the worst around. Half the people still using IE can’t even figure out how to tie their own shoes. Or they can’t even see their shoes. Either way, I wouldn’t expect them to be able to upgrade their web browser.
There are other choices, ones that generally won’t make you put a fist through your computer in frustration within the first ten minutes of logging on. And in the light of Microsoft’s grand hoopla over their “new and improved” Internet Explorer, it’s only fair to give the others a mention as well.
Already the second-largest browser in the world despite only coming into existence in 2004, Mozilla’s Firefox is still dealing in peanuts, just behind Microsoft’s IE with a meager 21.73% usage share. That’s second place! The numbers go down from here!
I used Firefox for a long time, before it slowly began to transform into a more and more IE-like entity. Add-ons suddenly began to appear, the windows getting overloaded with buttons and gadgets I didn’t need, the system itself slowing down significantly. I know that Firefox, along with all of the other browsers here, is pretty well compatible. But I’m not talking about going in and tweaking a browser. If you’re not sharp enough to move away from IE to begin with, there’s no way you even know what a “skin” is. Other than Mr. Skin and his bevy of naked celebrity babes. But he’s a pretty good guy.
No, this is out of the box functionality. And as it stands, Firefox is as much an answer to Microsoft Internet Explorer as the Red Sox are to the Yankees. Pick your poison – they’re both bloated and overindulgent and have annoying fans. Seriously, if I could throw all of the people with Firefox T-Shirts into a giant hole in the ground, they’d just be a layer of icing over the Red Sox fans who would already be trapped down there.
Why not just do these in usage share, eh? I initially wasn’t going to include Safari and its whopping 8% share because it’s solely for the Mac operating system. But I really think it represents what a default browser can be when the development team isn’t using all their money to buy collectible Star Wars merchandise. Plus, IE is only for Windows, so I’ve gotta give Apple users some love too. Since I am one after all.
Safari is not the best browser in the world by any stretch of the imagination, but for Mac users it’s a pretty solid choice. Its footprint (the amount of memory and space it takes to run an application) is a little too large and it still has a few too many extraneous buttons, but it’s a shocking improvement over what Windows sells as their default. Being built right into the Mac OS is actually a benefit in Safari’s case. Unlike open-source and other third-party browsers, there are no downloads, nor are there plug-ins needing individual updates every three f**king hours like IE.
Everything Safari needs comes along with your regular Apple Updates including bug fixes and other improvements. And hardly a pop-up to speak of. Not bad for a default browser. It’s almost like the designers took time and figured out what might be needed for a usable web browser – and are still thinking about it and figuring things out, automatically fixing problems as they go along! What a concept!
It almost hurts to admit that I’m warming up to Google Chrome (1.15%) because of how vehemently I attacked it on my blog when it hit the public in fall of last year. But I was feeling defensive because one of its greatest functions was totally just ripped off my personal browser of choice (more on that later).
But now I solely use Chrome on any Windows machine I come in contact with, especially when I have to do any sort of work on one. You can’t get rid of Internet Explorer completely because Windows has all kinds of other programs including Windows Updater routed through it, but when a friend has a problem with spyware or viruses on their Windows computer, the first thing I do is get rid of their IE shortcut and change their defaults to Chrome.
It’s a simple interface, which is part of what makes it so good. Chrome is clean and simple, without pointless toolbars and unused buttons. What it does have are surprisingly common sense functions, like a menu at its start-up page that keeps track of the last few tabs you closed, just in case you clicked out of them by accident. It is also exceptionally fast and resistant to bugs and security breaches for a product that has only been public since September.
Everyone wants something different out of their web browser, but for me it is the simplest interface possible, with a focus on speed and function. While I’ll guess that no one is out there begging for a new Netscape Navigator update (shiver), some might prefer Firefox or Safari on the exact laurels that I’ve just condemned them for. Maybe they like toolbars and buttons and all kinds of silly extras. But I like my browsers like I like my women: as naked as possible. And Opera is stripped down to the core. There aren’t even words across the top of the window, just tab-ready buttons with +’s and x’s for opening and closing. My dream come true.
Opera also developed Speed Dial, a phone button-style favorites menu on Opera’s start-up page that Google so brashly stole for Chrome. Literally, actually. A friend of mine’s brother worked on the development team for Chrome and when she called him out about the Speed Dial similarity, he said, “You’re not supposed to know about that.” Which wouldn’t have been hard, considering Opera’s .71% usage share. In fact, most of Opera’s usage comes out of its integration with mobile devices like smartphones and PDAs.
However, now that the Nintendo Wii has chosen Opera as its internet provider, perhaps the company will have a chance to grow. It still runs into trouble with some loosely-coded Websites (the language that Opera operates on is far more strict than other browsers, making some websites look screwy if they carefully designed), but it more than makes up for those shortcomings with raw speed and functionality. It’s a good time. And it makes an afternoon alone a real treat with those easy-to-navigate tabs. If you get my drift.
Whacking off. That’s what I’m talking about.
(Lead Image: crmdynamo.com)