10 Things You Wanted to Know About Browsers (But Were Afraid to Ask)

anna browsersBrowsers don't seem like it, but, surprisingly, they are sexier than you think.

I am going to answer 10 questions I know you have always secretly wanted to know about browsers, but were afraid to ask.

1. What is a browser?

A browser is a software application (that’s fancy for program) that allows people to find, look at and use documents and other content (such as YouTube videos!) on the internet.

2. Who invented browsers?

The first web browser was invented in 1990 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Did you say thank you? Who knew that browsers had a such a royal pedigree!

3. How many browsers are there?

Since the first browser was invented in 1990, there have been well over

100 browsers and subsequent updates.

For everyday users like us, here is a list of popular contemporary browsers:
-Internet Explorer
-Opera
-Firefox
-Safari
-Chrome

4. Which one is the best?

Peeps, in researching this article I came across a little app from Chartbeat that caused my heartbeat to go faster.

Yes, friends, you can see, in real time, what percentage of people on the internet are using which browser. I know, being a single mompreneur, you might think I have better things to do with my time than figure out, minute by minute, second by second, how many people are using which browser.

Sadly, you’d be wrong.

So, at the last possible minute before posting this blog, I gave you the following stats:

-Chrome: 35%
-Firefox: 23%
-Internet Explorer: 24%
-Safari: 13%

As this adds up to only 95%, I can only guess that 5% of internet usage is being handled by secret, private super nerd browsers that even we don't want to know about.

If you think popularity is the best indicator of quality, go with Chrome.

Hot tip: Use Chartbeat’s Real-time browser stats to stay on top of this important issue.

Of course, there are other measures of quality. I, personally, like Firefox. One reason is the little ditty my older son sings: “Firefox. Firefox. It really, really rocks!” There’s even a little dance he made up to go along with the song, but he got mad when I suggested I could make a YouTube video of it to put on the internet.

Everyone loves to hate Internet Explorer, especially techies, because, after it had 95% market share, Microsoft stopped making an effort to keep up with web standards (web standards are all the guidelines developers use to make web pages). This meant that, often, it was hard to make web pages look as good and as function well on Internet Explorer as they did on Firefox, Chrome and Safari.

Besides, Internet Explorer doesn’t rhyme with “rocks.”

5. Why should I care about browsers?

According to Top Ten Reviews, browsers:

Browsers translate HTML code, allowing you to read text, view images, play videos and listen to audio clips on websites. They also interpret hyperlinks that allow you to travel to different webpages when clicked on. While internet browsers are primarily intended to access the internet, they can also be used to access private information on web servers or through file systems.

Top Ten Reviews goes on to say that the most important features are simplicity, speed and security. In fact, the top browsers are all fairly equal in those areas, with Chrome being slightly faster than the rest.

6. What do browsers include?

According to wikipedia, most browsers include the following:

-Back and forward buttons to go back to the previous resource and forward respectively.

-A refresh or reload button to reload the current resource.

-A stop button to cancel loading the resource. In some browsers, the stop button is merged with the reload button.

-A home button to return to the user's home page.

-An address bar to input the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) of the desired resource and display it.

-A search bar to input terms into a search engine. In some browsers, the search bar is merged with the address bar.

-A status bar to display progress in loading the resource and also the URI of links when the cursor hovers over them, and page zooming capability.

In fact, browsers have tons of features, such as add ons (plugins), bookmarks and popup blockers for security.

7. How can browsers boost productivity?

The quick answer is that you could not be productive on the internet, at all, without browsers.

The long answer is very, very long.

Here are some examples of ways people increase productivity by customizing the way they use their browsers:

-Trying configuring your browser so it is blank when you start your machine. That way, you won’t be distracted by whatever you were working on before, but can start with a truly clean slate. Or, do the opposite.

-Make sure you set your browser so that it remembers what you were working on the last time you quit. That way you won’t have to find everything again.

-Get add ons that block certain websites for set periods of time, such as LeechBlock You can set LeechBlock to allow you, for example, only one hour of Facebook per day.

As I have said many times, the only thing that limits you on the internet is your own creativity. So, you can use browsers in countless ways to help you increase your productivity.

8. What is the future for browsers?

This one is a toughie.

There is a lot of debate in the tech world about what will happen to browsers. Some of the debate centers around whether browsers will be replaced by apps, which are all of the special tools you can download from the app store and use on your smartphones, iPads and other mobile devices.

Apps are like mini websites. They do not, however, connect with each other the way that browsers allow you to search throughout the web.

Apps are, of course, becoming more and more popular, partly because they are very fast because they can run continually on your phone.

Still, it seems a shame to lose the ability to “surf the net.”

I don’t know what’s going to happen to browsers and apps, but I imagine that in the next few years we will see a continued increase in the use of apps on our mobile devices, but that browsers are here to stay.

9. What’s better, a browser or a punch in the face?

A browser, definitely.

10. Can browsers make me rich?

Yes!! Browsers can make you rich by connecting you with all of the many opportunities found on the world wide web.

The web is still new, it’s like the wild, wild west. Browsers are like the horses, mules and wagon trains that led the miners to their gold. But now gold is made out of software and browsers help you find it.

Yee haw!

Your Turn
I’m especially interested in your thoughts on the future of browsers. Let us know in the comments.

Anna is a Contributing Editor at Project Eve as well as a solopreneur and the founder of ANNACOLIBRI, an e-business specializing in values-based marketing, online publishing and web-presence. She knows and loves writing about content marketing (with an emphasis on values-based marketing), web presence, solopreneurship, alternative healthcare, spirituality/yoga, (single) parenting and topics related to older adults. Community building is also an important to her; she is a founding member of the San Francisco Eves. She believes some of her best ideas grow out of offline conversations. If you have story ideas or tips, please e-mail her at: [email protected] You can also follow her on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/annacolibri