Free Web Browsers

A web browser is, as the name suggest, a program used by a computer to browse the web. It is responsible for retrieving, presenting and sending information from the World Wide Web. For example, a web browser contacts the server a website has, receives the code, translates it into something that can be viewed and then, when the user submits something, it sends that information back.

In 1993, the NCSA Mosaic web browser was released. This was the first graphical web browser and it caused an explosion in Internet use. A year later, the leader of the Mosaic team, Marc Andreessen, left and formed his own company–Netscape–which became the most used web browser of the time at 90%.

In 1995, Microsoft released its own web browser called Internet Explorer which was also based on Mosaic. This launched the web browser war. Netscape couldn’t keep up and launched the Mozilla Foundation whose goal was to create a web browser using open source software. This would lead to the well known Firefox.

Free Web Browsers

There are many free web browsers available for use; however, the top ones are Mozilla’s Firefox, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Opera Software’s Opera, Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome. Each has its benefits.

Firefox

Initially released on November 4, 2004, this web browser has quickly grown to become one of the top web browsers. As of October 2010, the web browser is currently the second most widely used browser with 30% of the market share. It is built on open source technology.

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer was released in 1995 and quickly grew to become the most widely used web browser. In 2002 and 2003, it had a market share of 95%. However, since other web browsers have been released, it has dropped in use. It’s market share is now only 55% and continues to slowly drop.

Opera

Opera was released in 1996; however, it has never really gained much of a following. It’s market share has fluctuated between 2.2% and 2.4% throughout 2010. Opera’s big market has been smart phones. In 2006, Opera and Nintendo reached an agreement for the browser to be on the Nintendo Wii and the DS.

Safari

This is a web browser that was designed and released by Apple in 2003 to be attached to its Mac OS X Operating System. Since then, a Windows version has been created and it has grown in popularity. It is currently the fourth most widely used operating system in the United States following Chrome.

Chrome

This is one of the newest web browsers. It was released publicly in December of 2008 by Google. Since then, it has grown to the third most widely used web browser. It uses the WebKit layout engine and application framework. Google released the source code for the web browser so that a version could be made for Linux and Mac OS.

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