What is a browser?

Click here to see what browser you are currently using.

This is an article about choice.

Google recently polled people in the streets of New York city asking "What is a browser?" The most common response was something similar to "It's what you search the internet with." Close, but not quite. Only 8% of answers were technically correct.

Learn what a web browser is by watching this 1-minute video.

A browser is a program that you use to view webpages - it is what you browse (aka surf) the internet with. This is in the same sense that Microsoft Word is a program that allows you to view and create documents. Google is simply one of billions of webpages that provides the service of allowing you to search all these pages. It is a search engine on a webpage that you need a browser to be able to view.

Why is this important? Since most people aren't aware of what specifically is a browser, they are therefore unaware that it is possible to choose from a number of different browsers to view the internet. Many people use Microsoft's Internet Explorer to surf the web, simply because it comes pre-installed on every Windows computer. If you are a Mac user, then the default browser is Safari.

You can install any browser for free. This mean you can choose to surf the internet using the Mozilla Firefox browser, or Google's Chrome browser. But why bother? Here's three good reasons:

  1. Security - Internet Explorer has a history of vulnerability to hackers
  2. Ability - Internet Explorer does not have the ability to display many modern web design features
  3. Speed - Internet Explorer takes longer to display pages than all the other browsers

OK, so you're sold. Time for a new browser? Here's a list of your choices:

  • Firefox by Mozilla *recommended by Astronaut Designs.
  • Chrome by Google - reputed to be the fastest.
  • Safari by Apple - it's what Mac users have but you can use it on Windows too
  • Opera by Opera - good for netbook computers

These are all free and will download and install in minutes. Give one a try!

3 Responses to “What is a browser?”

  1. Ann-Maree says:

    So why do you recommend Firefox over Chrome?

    • admin says:

      Firefox wins because of its extensions. Just take a look at the vast number of add-ons and you’ll surely find something that is useful or practical to your day-to-day web browsing. I’m biased, however as Firefox has an array of brilliant web developer add-ons that make my life much easier. The bookmarking system in Firefox is also wonderful – it will make bookmarks searchable by keywords so you can type keywords straight into the address bar to bring up something from your bookmarks quickly.

      I’d have to say I think Chrome is much faster, and I also love how the address bar is also a Google search box. I use the Google Apps Chrome application for my email – so I’m really using both Firefox and Chrome side by side.

  2. […] you’re not entirely sure what a browser actually is – check out the What is a Browser? […]