Browser rankings

So a month ago we saw Microsoft introduce its browser ballot which popped up for everyone who had Internet Explorer picked as their default browser. So I had a look at the top five and some of the smaller picks in the ballot.

6. Apple Safari – I tested Apple’s browser at work yesterday and found it very slow, sure browsing speed was fast but the software itself kept stalling and smacked of software built mainly for another operating system.

5. Flock – Flock is the best of the smaller browsers. It allows you to keep an eye on your social networks with a style largely based on Firefox even borrowing the rendering engine

4. Internet Explorer 8 – Its become rather cool to mock Internet Explorer, IE8 goes a long way to fixing the problems but its still not as good as several other browsers but with IE9 coming in a few months time Microsoft will be hoping that they can get back onto peoples computers.

3. Opera – Opera were the company making the biggest noise about the need for microsoft to stop packaging IE in Windows which immediately made me hate them. That said though they have built a decent and speedy browser with some very neat addons to improve the experience including a turbo button that puts sites through their server, compresses the images and then shows it to you a lot quicker than usual. They have also added a system to allow you to share files and host websites via your browser.

2. Google Chrome – I’ve liked google chrome for a long time for its speed and minimalist style. This is the fastest browser in my opinion and it never nags you about updates which is a bonus.

1. Mozilla Firefox – Firefox has gone downhill a little in the last year or two, the browser has gotten slow and clunky but the range of extensions and its brilliance as a browser for web design makes it a must have for me.

What do you think? Which browser do you use?

  • I actually use Internet Explorer 7 as my main browser (I also use Opera for the odd site that IE7 disagrees with), as there’s a few features it has that I use heavily and have not managed to find in anything else: inline auto-complete, custom search keywords that actually work, and true session isolation. Taking those in order:

    Inline auto-complete is an optional setting that I originally enabled out of curosity, and found to be quite useful. To take an example, say I want to go to the wiki page Foo. I hit Alt+D to select the address bar, start typing the “en” of and it’ll autocomplete the domain in the address bar. Press End, type “wi” and it’ll autocomplete the /wiki/. Press End again, type “Foo” and hit Enter. Without inline autocomplete that’s simply not possible – I either have to select a similar entry from the autocomplete list and edit it, or type the full URL in. It’s nothing major, but I’ve gotten used to it and it continually annoys me that IE8 can’t do that.

    Search keywords that work: this also ties in somewhat with how IE resolves stuff in the address bar. If you type in the name of a favourite, then IE will open that favourite (Firefox, for example, doesn’t do this). You can also define a search keyword for a custom URL using TweakUI, and then if you type in “keyword something” it’ll perform that search for you (Firefox can sort-of do this – rather than having a separate list you have a favourite with a replaceable string). The advantage of IE’s method is you can have both a favourite and a search keyword with the same name, and it works. Taking the wikipedia example, if I define a favourite called “wiki” that goes to, and a search keyword called “wiki” that goes to, then typing “wiki” in the address bar goes to the home page while typing “wiki Foo” goes to the wiki page for Foo. Another trick you can do with IE is you can change how the %s replacement is done (this is handy for wiki as instead of using + for a space, they use _) – see for details.

    The most important feature for me in IE7 (and why I’ve not upgraded to IE8) is true session isolation. In IE7, iexplore.exe processes do not share session cookies. This means that if I start two instances of IE7, I can carry out a different query on a session-based site (such as National Rail’s journey planner) in each instance without one query overwriting the other. But because they’re using the same profile, they share all my settings, favourites, history, long-term cookies, etc. Firefox and Opera cannot do this – the best you can do this is use multiple profiles, at which point *nothing* is shared. In IE8 Microsoft changed the process model, and now one process runs all windows (with no session isolation) unless you use a command-line option (there’s no way to make the IE7 behaviour the default). I’ve not managed to find anything else that has this feature, and it’s one I find very useful.

    A side-effect of the session isolation is if one IE7 process explodes, only those windows owned by that process die. And if for whatever reason an IE7 process hangs, I can still open new windows. You cannot do that in Firefox or Opera – in those, there is one master process that runs all windows and if that hangs (and it is possible for a driver bug to make a process *unkillable* – one PC at work did this regularly) then you’re completely screwed.

  • Goto about:config in firefox and type browser.urlbar as your filter term

    Look at “.autoFill” and “.restrict.bookmark” and even “.restrict.typed”

    As for session isolation, well Firefox’s next version will have process isolation, also, firefox has tab recovery, so even if your tab does go boom, it comes back (and that has never failed for me)

    You can use private browsing for national rail, although really they need to sort themselves out.

    As for the key words trick in the url, while i agree that is nice, fortunately FF has you covered there too. On the right to your awesome bar there is the search box with different search connectors. click the dropdown and then manage. Then select the one you want to add a term for (so wiki for me) and hit edit keyword. Add your keyword and ok your way out. Then type your keyword in the address bar followed by your search term…

    While that isn’t everything, it might help show you IE7 isn’t the only way….