Opera, the browser, is made by Opera Software, a Norwegian software company. Opera was originally released in 1997, but unlike the American browsers, it had no ads, and it was not free. Instead, it only had a free trial, and then it was expected that you would pay for it. Apparently, ads were not a problem for the vast majority of people the world over: Opera has never had more than a single digit usage rate for computer users. In 2000, they went free, but accepted advertising sponsors in a big way. In 2005, they finally gave up on the unsolicited ads and accepted revenue from Google, their default search engine.
Safari is different from all of the above. This is because all of the above work for PC’s, but Safari is exclusive to Apple (Mac) products. In other words, Apple users don’t get much choice. This is generally okay because Apple users generally like to think they are using The Best. Since there is only one Best, having a choice would imply someone had mistakenly made something inferior for their beloved Apple device, and who in their right mind would dare do something other than The Best when it comes to Apple? No, it is better best that the Apple users don’t get to choose.
For all the noise made by Apple users, their browser stats are under 5% desktop usage.
Today, Chrome is #1. Chrome is fast. Chrome is pretty. Chrome comes up with answers sometimes before I finish typing
But Chrome is a Google (Alphabet) product, so you know “they” are tracking your every move. Then again, this is part of how it gets to be so fast. Internally, it knows where you’ve already been, and where you’ve already clicked. In fact, it tells you how many times you’ve been someplace, and when you were last there. Surely those notes aren’t just for my benefit. The question is, do I really care if some office full of young tech wizards knows how many times I’ve re-searched and re-downloaded IRS Form 2848?
To answer this, we have to address the phenomenon of FREE browser. All those young Silicon Valley tech wizards, as much as they love sitting in front of their screens all day (and getting free lunches and bringing their dogs to work and so on,) still want to be paid. And Silicon Valley is not a cheap address. If I get free searches, who’s picking up the tab?
Firefox has a spunky reputation and a fiercely loyal following.
Although currently only the #2 most used browser in the world, after its initial 2004 release, Firefox quickly surpassed IE and did enjoy the position of #1. It is also free, but you have to download it and install it yourself. Its maker is Mozilla, and this is where it gets interesting.
Mozilla was originally an offshoot of Netscape. In fact, they prefer that the name be Mozilla Firefox. The story of Firefox – excuse me, Mozilla Firefox – is full of intense competition and pride and they-done-us-wrong energy. They maintain a core community of devoted followers who would never think to use any other browser for any other reason. After all, can you really tell the difference between nanoseconds?
It’s hard for me to objectively appraise IE. It is Microsoft’s browser. Microsoft is a behemoth company. If a device is prepackaged with a Microsoft operating system, it almost undoubtedly also has Microsoft’s browser. As the default browser on so many computing devices, a person can’t help but wonder. Certainly only the “cheap” one comes for free, right? And “cheap” isn’t necessarily best, or even good. Even if it is made by the behemoth, Microsoft, which also made the operating system in the machine you are using.
Also, by now, IE is over 20 years old. This makes it something of an old fogey in the tech world, and “old” doesn’t really mesh with modern expectations for speed and versatility. Sure, they’ve come out with new versions – all the way up to 11, but is IE really still nimble and clever for what I want to do?
In a way, understanding this is more important than understanding the internet. This is because this is where you get a choice that actually impacts your every-minute life.
A browser is a program that helps you get where you want to go on the internet. Think of it as your virtual Uber, but for information. You announce where you want to go by typing it into the search bar. A page of options comes up. You pick the one you like. Click! And you are there.
Your browser actually gets you where you want to go by using hyperlinks (thanks, CERN!) or more specifically, by using HyperText Transfer Protocol, aka HTTP. You may have noticed that a lot of addresses on the internet start their names with http://…. Now you know why.
Okay. You have your hardware (laptop, tablet) and you have a subscription to some kind of task-accomplishing software that’s actually physically located hundreds or even thousands of miles away from you in a well-guarded high-security high-tech warehouse. How do you use it? The internet!
The internet is also called the World Wide Web, which explains the “www.” portion of all the “web addresses” or “internet addresses” that you “go to” in order to be productive. (Or to kill trolls. Your preference.)
First, there is no cloud.
Having said that, I also need to say that “The Cloud” occupies some of the most valuable real estate on the planet. You see, “The Cloud” is a euphemism (aka, pretty word) for vast server farms scattered across otherwise unimportant swaths of the world, all networked together.
Imagine you are driving down a country road. Corn and soybeans on one side. Anonymous warehouses on the other. Get it? (Now imagine all the wires. Not enough twisty ties in the entire world to keep that straightened out.)