Web Browsers
There was a time when people said that Microsoft had won the "Browser Wars" of the 1990s. Microsoft certainly seemed to think so, because their Internet Explorer rested on its, er... laurels for quite a while, with security fixes, display bugs, and new features (such as tabs) lagging far behind. They abandoned the Mac version of IE, and if you're one of the throngs still using WinXP, IE8 is the end of the line for you. Time to start looking around. Fortunately the number of alternatives is growing, and the number of people using them is growing as well. Sounds like the Rebel Alliance is just getting underway, and the Empire is barely able to strike back.
close match high quality low price challenge MS Mozilla Firefox is a leaner, faster browser based on technology developed for Netscape. 1 in 5 web surfers use it, which is remarkable because the two most popular operating systems (Windows and Mac OS X) come with another browser pre-installed; people are taking the trouble to download and use Firefox instead. It's a free cross-platform, open-source program, with pretty much all of the features you'd expect in a modern browser, plus a huge array of extensions and plug-ins that add just the additional features you want. my choice Windows Mac OS Unix-like OS/2 Java BeOS
close match high quality low price challenge MS Apple created Safari as a better alternative to the Mac version of Internet Explorer, which Microsoft was neglecting. They succeeded so well that Microsoft just gave up on it. Safari's page-rendering engine (WebKit) is consistently rated the fastest available. Safari is standards-compliant, it includes the kind of usability features that Apple is famous for, and it's available free of charge, not just for Mac OS X, but also for Windows. my choice Mac OS Windows
close match high quality low price challenge MS Google's Chrome is a reconceived and re-engineered approach to the web browser. The most nifty things about it are the way it works under the hood (such as a privacy mode, a bit surprising from the company that seems intent on learning everything about its users), but the user interface is different enough to be worth a look. Only for Windows so far. Windows
close match high quality low price challenge MS Opera is a lean and fast cross-platform browser with a history of including handy new features that the others forgot about, like navigating effectively using just the keyboard, organizing multiple windows with different pages in them, or interpretting "mouse gestures" as commands. It's "portable" enough to run on desktops, handhelds, and even many high-end phones. It's available either in a free advertiser-supported version, or in an ad-free commercial version. It's also customised for multiple languages, and runs well on lots of operating systems (Linux, Mac, BSD, Solaris, BeOS, Symbian, QNX, OS/2, and Windows). Windows Mac OS Unix-like Symbian OS/2 BeOS
close match high quality low price challenge MS SeaMonkey is the latest incarnation of the traditional Mozilla/Netscape suite, including not only a browser, but a mail/news client, and a web-page-editing module. It was initially launched with the blessings and financial support of AOL/Netscape, who used it as the basis for the last few versions of the Netscape browser (which is still available but won't be updated, since the availability of Mozilla direct from the developers makes a Netscape-brand browser redundant). It's available for many operating systems (e.g. Windows, Mac, Linux, BSD, OS/2). Windows Mac OS Unix-like OS/2
close match high quality low price challenge MS OmniWeb is a browser that focuses on all the little details of usability rather than trying to do absolutely everything. It's designed specifically for Mac OS X with full support for the subtle benefits of the Mac interface. OmniGroup is now offering it free of charge. Mac OS
close match high quality low price challenge MS Camino is an open-source browser for Mac OS X. In many respects it's similar to Firefox, as a stand-alone browser based on Mozilla page-rendering technology, but rather than being a Windows-style program running on a Mac, Camino is is a "real Mac program" that fits the way Mac OS X programs are supposed to look and feel. And in some ways it's the anti-Firefox, eschewing the kitchen-sink features that aren't really central to browsing the web, to focus on the core needs of its users. Mac OS
close match high quality low price challenge MS Shiira is a relatively new open-source browser for Mac OS X, with a fresh user interface. For example it shows you a thumbnail of each page you have open, which is updated as the page changes. This takes up some screen real estate, but is incredibly handy, telling you far more than the little "still loading" icons that most tabbed browsers give you. Mac OS
close match high quality challenge MS Owners of Macintosh computers (especially older ones running pre-OS X operating systems) should take a look at iCab, a browser by a German developer, which focuses on being efficient, stable, and standards-compliant. A standard version is available free, with an enhanced version available for a small fee. In addition to the usual features, it offers the option of automatically filtering out banner ads and cookie management... all without add-ins. Versions are available for everything from the 68K CPUs with System 7 to the latest Intel systems with OS X. Mac OS
close match high quality low price Maxthon installs on top of IE, and adds more powerful multipage browsing (e.g. un-close a just-closed tab, or look at two tabbed pages at once), plus several features unique to Maxthon. One of the more interesting is "mouse gestures", which is a fairly new user-interface concept that's starting to get attention: you click the right mouse button, then move the mouse to the left, or up and down, or down and to the right, etc. and the browser interprets that as a command such as "next", "reload", or "close tab". Maxthon is free of charge. Windows
high quality low price K-Meleon is light-weight browser for Windows. It's an open-source browser which uses the standards-compliant Mozilla page rendering engine, but lacks the "bloat" of that more full-featured browser. It still supports all the basic browser functions, including both IE favorites and Netscape bookmarks, user profiles, and a password manager. And it adds niceties like pop-up controls, user-configurable keyboard support and menus, and an open plug-in interface. It's still a pre-release program with some known bugs and a few missing features, but it's stable enough that many users have already switched to it full-time. my choice Windows
close match high quality low price challenge MS Konqueror is a combination file-manager/viewer and web-browser, but more flexible than MSIE. It supports all of the official standards (HTML 4, CSS2, Java/ECMA-script), plus MS ActiveX controls, Netscape plug-ins, and Java applets, and it renders pages very quickly. (Its rendering engine is the one that Apple chose for Safari.) The bad news (for Windows and Mac OS 9 users) is that it's available only for Unix-like systems using KDE... because it's a free component of that desktop environment (which is included in most Linux distributions). my choice Unix-like
close match high quality low price challenge MS Epiphany is a browser that uses the open-source Mozilla page-rendering engine, but the user interface is faster, and simplified for web browsing, and web browsing only. But it doesn't sacrifice niceties like tabs for multiple pages, smart bookmarks, and a user interface that can be customized by drag-and-dropping elements around. It's available for Unix-like systems using GNOME (which is included in most Linux and BSD distributions). Unix-like
low price challenge MS Dillo is a very lightweight browser designed to be stable (each new release is promised to be at least as stable as its predecessor), extensible, and fast (a natural byproduct of its size). It's available for a wide variety of Unix-like systems (including Mac OS X). Unix-like
low price challenge MS Amaya is a project of the World Wide Web Consortian (W3C, the body that sets standards for the web) to produce an open-source tool featuring integrated web-browsing and web-authoring. This was Tim Berners-Lee's original conception of how one would use this "Web" thing he invented (and since he's a member of the W3C, it makes sense that they'd produce a tool of this sort). It's available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris, and AIX (and can be compiled for any other Unix). Windows Unix-like
low price challenge MS Lynx and Links are free text-only browsers, a characteristic which speeds up page loading incredibly. The bad news is that web developers are getting really bad at designing sites to be usable without graphics (and client-side scripting and plug-ins), so it's getting harder to use them. But there are versions available for most text-based operating systems, including many handhelds, good ol' DOS, and Unix shell accounts. Links is in active development, with plans to add support for graphics to Linux versions, even without Xwindows. Windows Mac OS Unix-like OpenVMS OS/2 BeOS Amiga DOS
close match a close match or substitute for Microsoft's product
high quality an especially high-quality alternative
low price an inexpensive (or even free) alternative
challenge MS offers a strong challenge to Microsoft's influence
my choice my personal selection
Runs on: Windows Windows, Mac OS Mac OS, Unix-like Unix-like systems, Java Java-compatible systems, Symbian Symbian OS, Palm OS Palm OS, Netware Netware, OpenVMS OpenVMS, BeOS BeOS, OS/2 OS/2, Amiga Amiga, RISC OS RISC OS, DOS DOS
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