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Browser wars heat up with release of Firefox 4

March 23, 2011 - Art Smith
If you are reading this blog, you are likely reading it through a web browser. The web browser you choose can make a big difference in your web experience. In simple terms, a browser takes the code behind a web page and "decodes" it so you can read it.

A new version of the Firefox browser was released this week and was promptly downloaded by millions of Internet users who wanted to upgrade to Firefox 4. A new version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer was also recently introduced.

A few years ago Internet Explorer claimed nearly all views on the web were with Internet Explorer. The browser was preloaded on all Windows-based machines. It was even used on Macintoshes because at that time Apple lacked the Safari browser and the Google Chrome browser was still years away.

The first graphical web browser, Mosaic, was created by Marc Anderson in 1993 and forever changed the way we all view web pages.

Internet Explorer partially was based on Mosaic, as was Netscape, which later launched the Mozilla Foundation. The foundation has since designed the Firefox browser, the latest version of which was released this week.

Also joining the browser game is Safari, by Apple, and Chrome, by Google. There are dozens of versions of each browser in use because they frequently are updated, but many users fail to upgrade their software.

What browser you are using depends a lot on your preferences and a lot on what you are viewing a web page on.

Older computers may not be able to run new browsers. Certain devices, such as a cell phone or ipad, likely will force you to use a certain browser.

Sites that have a strong base of younger users, such as college sites, tend to get more traffic from Firefox and Safari because the users did not grow up having to use Internet Explorer.

A newspaper site like still receives most of its visitors through Internet Explorer with traffic breaking down as follows.

• Internet Explorer (12 different versions): 69 percent • Firefox (79 different versions): 14 percent • Safari (57 different versions): 10.5 percent • Chrome (85 different versions): 4.19 percent

The remaining 2.31 percent of the traffic comes from a staggering 39 different browsers with names like SeaMonkey, Camino and Blazer as well as one visit from a browser named "The Master is Here." Most of the browsers are ones unique to one model of cell phone.

Many web browsers will display a web page in a slightly different way than others. Old web browsers may not be able to display a modern web page at all. With literally hundreds of versions of dozens of browsers, it is nearly impossible to assure that all but the simplest pages will display exactly as intended.


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