The Web Browser Wars

What is your default web browser? Even though we’re spoiled for choice, the majority of us stick to the tried and tested major players. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Microsoft Edge own the lion’s share of the web browser market. But just because a browser has the most users, it doesn’t necessarily or automatically make it the best.

Choosing a web browser is difficult. You have to take several points into consideration. How does it integrate with your technology ecosystem? What can the extensions and add-ons do for you? Is it fast? Is it safe? How much power does the browser use?

Read on for the answer to these questions and more.

Lowest RAM Usage

The winner is… not Chrome. Google Chrome is well known as a massive strain on system resources. Google attempts to mitigate the resource hungry browser, but there are other options available.

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GreenBrowser is a solid browser that is vastly less power-hungry than its competitors. It uses significantly less RAM while remaining at least as fast.

GreenBrowser does need a bit more recognition. It is well supported, comes with many features (some that require extensions in the major browsers, such as closing the root tab to close all linked tabs), and still features a wide range of customization tools.

Best on Battery Life

Battery use is an interesting category. The proliferation of mobile devices means everyone has a different idea of what constitutes “good.” A casual tablet user isn’t affected by a battery hungry browser in the same way as someone using their laptop for several hours at a time.

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Microsoft Edge is currently top of the battery use charts across laptops and other mobiles devices. The internet Explorer replacement, introduced with Windows 10, consistently beats Chrome, Opera, and Firefox in browser efficiency and battery rating tests. In this particular area, Microsoft is reaping the rewards of building Edge from the ground up, eliminating many of the vulnerabilities and inefficiencies found in Internet Explorer.

Best on Security

Security is measured across several categories, considering a browser secure if it protects our privacy. We also consider a browser secure when there are minimal vulnerabilities, or if it stays out of the data breach news. With that in mind, we’ve got two security focused browsers that offer slightly different packages.

Best for Privacy

Tor remains the most private browser. Tor is absolutely focused on protecting user privacy.

The browser uses only HTTPS connections, blocks plug-ins, and uses an interconnected system of relay servers to boost user anonymity.

tor browser windows

Tor has received some negative press due to some of the services that it can hide and provide access to. Furthermore, absolute privacy purists consider Tor tainted. The relay server system, known as nodes, has been compromised by the FBI in order to stop nefarious services that exist in the anonymous darknet.

However it cannot be denied. Tor is focused on privacy. Users gain some security through the emphasis on privacy, but Tor doesn’t have additional anti-malware technology like other popular browsers.

Security

Chrome remains the most secure browser. Tor is focused on anonymity and privacy. Chrome isn’t. However, the simple fact is that Chrome represents one of the single most secure web browsers. At the last Pwn2Own hacking competition, Chrome was the only browser that remained secure. The year before, 2016, Chrome was only breached once.

Image result for google chrome browser logo

Unfortunately, Chrome comes with its own irritations. As you would expect, the browser developed by the world’s largest search company is just loves all the data you provide. There are numerous extensions available to curb those privacy issues however, they could be the vulnerability that lets an attacker in.

Fastest Browser

Image result for SlimjetOne of the most contentious browser measurements is speed. Browser speed is dependent on many things: extensions installed, system specs, internet speed, and much more. The difference comes from the way individual browsers process web pages. For instance, Chrome is a very powerful browser, but can sometimes load slowly.

However, Slimjet takes the speed crown ahead of the competition. Slimjet is a Chromium-based browser with integrated ad-blocking and anti-tracking tools. It is less resource-heavy than many major browsers, offering similar features without draining resources.

Best Ecosystem

The extensive Google ecosystem includes massively popular web browser Chrome. It is understandable. Using a single account to transfer every single setting between devices is incredibly convenient. Furthermore, the range of extensions is almost immeasurable, as well as the addition of Google Docs and the numerous other Google services that can be accessed.

 

 

chrome web store example windows

Microsoft’s Extension Wiff with Extension

Unfortunately, Microsoft got the Edge release all wrong. At a time where Microsoft is winning accolades for its cross-device integration and cloud services, launching the Edge browser without support for extensions looks like a major mistake. Microsoft Edge now supports extensions and could catch up in the coming years. But I’m sure Chrome will continue to dominate this area.

Best Overall Browser

Choosing a single browser is not easy.

My browser of choice is Chrome. But I also use Microsoft Edge from time to time. Your decision will relate to your hardware. If you have a powerful machine with lots of RAM, go-ahead and use Chrome. If you’re using a less-than-powerful machine, consider an alternative that is kinder on system resources, like Edge.

Internet Browsers are free and all of these offer advantages over each other. Check each of them out if you are curious.

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The Extinction of Internet Explorer

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 1 made its debut in Windows 95 and was part of the Internet Jumpstart Kit in Microsoft Plus for the operating system. What’s interesting is that Internet Explorer 1 was the creation of a team with only six workers, but which rapidly expanded in the following years.

Now at version 11, Internet Explorer is no longer Microsoft’s top priority, as the company has introduced a new browser called Edge that’s offered as the default option on its new Windows operating systems.

Internet Explorer’s Scheduled Extinction 

The development of Microsoft Edge was necessary mostly because the software giant needed a fresh start to compete against the other browsers on the market, including here Chrome and Firefox, which made Internet Explorer obsolete over the years.

A new engine powering Edge and a wider array of features, which include support for extensions, are all supposed to make Microsoft’s new browser a stronger rival to both Chrome and Firefox, although its adoption is still impacted by the limited availability in Windows 10 – Microsoft has already said that it has no plans to bring Edge on previous Windows versions or on non-Windows operating systems.

Internet Explorer will no longer receive new versions, features, and improvements, but Microsoft will continue to patch it should new vulnerabilities and security issues be discovered. This way, users who are still running Internet Explorer, be they consumers or enterprises, can remain fully protected before migrating to Edge or a different browser.

As a result of Microsoft move with Edge the market share of Internet Explorer is quickly declining, and statistics have shown that Google Chrome has become the clear leader of the browser world with a share that exceeds 50 percent. Time will tell if Microsoft Edge is the eagerly anticipated Google Chrome and Firefox killer, but for the moment, Google continues to be the browser of choice for more than 50 percent of PC users out there.

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Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Falls to 2nd Place

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) last month lost the No. 1 spot to Google’s Chrome, marking a major milestone not only in IE’s 21-year lifespan, but a dramatic changing of the desktop browser guard.

According to U.S. analytics vendor Net Applications, IE and Edge which the firm tossed into a single bucket labeled “IE” fell 2 percentage points in April, the fifth straight month of a loss greater than a point, and the 16th of any size to end at 41.4% of the total global browser user share.

Meanwhile, Chrome climbed 2.6 percentage points to take a narrow lead with 41.7%.

If you just ask around the office you will quickly find the majority of computer users tend to rely on Chrome much more so then Microsoft IE. This fall to second place for Microsoft’s IE is also partially their own doing as their new browser, “Edge” is being heavily promoted with Windows 10 as IE starts the long walk to retirement.

Firefox and Safari browsers are also struggling to find and keep users as Chrome continues to dominate. Microsoft is hoping that their new browser, “Edge” will change things up a bit in the near future however their new browser still needs some development before anyone really takes it very seriously.

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Can Edge Save Microsoft?

Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer are losing market share at a rapid clip.

Internet Explorer market share has reportedly dropped 2.1 percentage points since last month, which is the largest one-month decline IE has seen in 11 years.

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Microsoft’s worldwide browser market share stood at 44.8 percent last month down from 57.4 percent a year earlier.

Meanwhile, Google Chrome’s browser market share is surging, snatching 36.6 percent of the worldwide browser market in February, up from about 25 percent in February 2015. Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari are still trailing the two leaders with 11.7 percent and 4.9 percent market share last month, respectively.

The news, while good for Google is proving troubling to Microsoft. There was a time, after all, when nearly every computer around the world relied upon a Microsoft browser. However the growing popularity of Chrome, coupled with years of disappointment from Internet Explorer, is finally catching up to Microsoft.

Realizing that, Microsoft last year launched the Edge browser with Windows 10. I have found Edge to be “a fast, lightweight browser with good standards support and a few unique tools, but with no extension or syncing capabilities, it’s not yet ready for prime time.

But whether that’s too little, too late remains to be seen. Chrome is largely gaining its users from those Microsoft is losing. And although Microsoft has stopped supporting Internet Explorer versions 10 and under, Chrome has still been able to nab market share from Internet Explorer 11, which Microsoft still supports.

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The Time Has Arrived To Update Your Browser

This week Microsoft withheld security updates from users of older versions of the company’s Internet Explorer (IE) browser.

All Windows users still running IE7 or IE8, and those running IE9 on any other edition of Windows but Vista, as well as those using IE10 on anything but Windows Server 2012, did not receive the patches Microsoft distributed this past Tuesday to systems equipped with the newer IE11 or Edge browsers.

Microsoft this past Tuesday issued a single, cumulative update for IE on Feb. 9. The update, labeled MS16-009, included fixes for 13 vulnerabilities.

While Microsoft did not spell out which fixes were not given to older copies of IE, it is not difficult to pinpoint those unsent.

It is apparent that more than two-thirds of the vulnerabilities patched by Microsoft on Tuesday probably continue to exist in the retired IE versions.

Why Should You Update Your (IE) Browser If You Are On A Version Prior To IE 11

The danger with known, but unpatched vulnerabilities is significant. Cyber criminals regularly parse updates and compare “before” and “after” code to determine what was changed. They then use that information to investigate further in an attempt to reverse-engineer the patch to find the underlying vulnerability. Once the bug has been identified, they craft an exploit to successfully hack unpatched software, knowing that not everyone updates immediately.

Microsoft declared the early retirement of IE7 and IE8, and partial retirement of IE9 and IE10, back in August 2014, when it told customers they must upgrade to the latest browser available for their OS by Jan. 12, 2016. For most users, the latest version is IE11.

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The Time to Update Your IE Has Arrived

I have mentioned this before. If you are using an Internet Explorer (IE) version prior to 11 you will need to update it very – very shortly.

A support document posted by the software giant describes an“end of life” upgrade notification for Internet Explorer that will pop up starting today. The notification will warn people still running IE 8, 9 and 10 that their time is up and urge them to upgrade to the latest version of the browser.

The move doesn’t mean older versions of IE will disappear from your PC. It does mean no more bug fixes, updates or other patches will be released, leaving those editions vulnerable to malware and other security threats.

Ending support for the older versions of Internet Explorer is a way to move people to newer versions of Microsoft’s operating system that support IE 11, especially Windows 10, which debuted in late July. That said, Microsoft must be hoping that people will also try its new Edge browser, which is available only on Windows 10. Edge is considered a more streamlined and modern browser than Internet Explorer, which is still bundled with Windows 10 mostly for compatibility reasons to support plug-ins, extensions and other third-party software.

Internet Explorer 11 has a 25.6 percent share of the desktop browser market, according to the latest Web traffic stats from NetMarketShare. Collectively, IE 8, 9 and 10 account for another 20 percent of all browser Web traffic, which means a large number of people still need to upgrade if they want a secure browser. Microsoft’s new Edge browser has less than 3 percent market share despite being the default in Windows 10.

The “end of life” notification will pop up for computers running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2, according to Microsoft. The company first announced the end of support back in August 2014.

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Microsoft’s Upcoming Nag Message

As I reported earlier next week Microsoft will stop supporting IE versions prior to 11. So of course Microsoft will begin displaying nag notices to users who have not upgraded to the latest available for their operating system.

Before I explain how you can disable this nag message you must understand I do recommend that everyone upgrade to the latest IE version (11) unless there is a technical reason you need to stay on a previous version.


 

So for users who need to stay on a previous version of IE you can disable those notices and continue running retired editions without the disruption of the in-browser warnings.

On January 12, Microsoft will deliver the final security updates for IE8, IE9 and IE10 on Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) to make good on an August 2014 announcement that it would shut off patches and other support for those browsers on the OS. Other versions of Windows will also show the nags to users still running older editions of IE: Those running Windows Vista, for example, will see the alert if they are still on IE7, the browser that was originally bundled with the 2006 operating system, or on IE8, the 2009 follow-up.

The code to display the notifications will be bundled with the cumulative security updates slated to release Tuesday for the affected browsers.

According to Microsoft employee Steve Thomas, the nag will appear in a new tab when an out-of-date IE is launched. The tab will open to the appropriate page on Microsoft’s website where the user can download the latest version of the browser; in most cases, that will be this page for downloading IE11.

The tab will reappear 72 hours later if the user ignores the recommendation to upgrade and closes the tab.

Last month, Microsoft published a support document that outlined how enterprises could disable the notification, presumably because they were still in the midst of their upgrade to IE11 on Windows 7, or had paid Microsoft for a custom support plan that will give them security patches for the retired browsers after the public expiration date of Jan. 12.
Anyone who wants to continue running an outdated edition can use the same instructions to switch off the in-IE nags.

To disable the notices, users must edit the Windows registry, a chore best left to advanced users and only after backing up the device; an error in the registry can cripple the computer.

For Windows 7, this can be accomplished by adding the new registry key:

FEATURE_DISABLE_IE11_SECURITY_EOL_NOTIFICATION

to the registry subkey:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\INTERNET EXPLORER\MAIN\FEATURECONTROL

and then under the new key, this entry:

iexplore.exe = 1

The soon-to-retired browsers will continue to work after January 12, although no further security updates will be provided for them.

Once again, if you have no special need for older versions of IE I suggest upgrading to IE 11.

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Microsoft’s Mandatory IE Update Arrives

Nearly 340 million people who run Microsoft’s Internet Explorer have just a week to upgrade or switch browsers, or face the problem of no longer receiving security updates.

On Jan. 12, Microsoft will serve up the final security updates for all instances of Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) and IE8 and for most of the copies of IE9 and IE10 now on customers’ PCs.

That’s the deadline Microsoft set a year and a half ago, when it announced that most users would have to be running IE11 by that date. After January 12, Microsoft will support IE9 only on the rarely used Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, and IE10 only on Windows Server 2012. Everyone else must be running IE11 or Edge in order to continue to receive security updates and technical support.

You can upgrade to IE11 by simply running Windows Update on your Windows device.

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It’s Time to Update Your IE Browser

Nearly 370 million Internet Explorer users have just six weeks to upgrade their browsers or switch to another one such as Chrome or Firefox. However even for those uses that choose Chrome or Firefox it is time to upgrade Microsoft browser.

In August 2014, Microsoft took Internet Explorer (IE) users by surprise when it announced that most had to be running IE11 by January 2016, six weeks from today. After that date, Microsoft will support IE9 only on the barely used Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, and IE10 only on Windows Server 2012. All others, including those with devices powered by Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, must run IE11 or Edge after January 2016.

 The retired browsers will continue working however Microsoft will no longer provide technical support and will stop providing security updates for the versions prior to IE11.

The biggest amount of affected IE users, an estimated 172 million, are those still running IE8, the six-year-old browser originally bundled with Windows 7 but which also ran on the now-retired Windows XP.

IE9 was also a favorite of those who had not yet upgraded. Approximately 108 million users ran IE9 in November, but because Windows Vista, the only edition that will be allowed to fire up IE9 and still receive browser security patches after Jan. 12, was on about 26 million machines last month, at least 82 million people must upgrade in the next six weeks.

You can update you browser by using the update windows feature. One fast way to get to this is opening Internet Explorer. selecting tools on the top menu and choosing “Windows Update”.

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Microsoft Releases Emergency IE Patch

Microsoft just released MS15-093, an emergency out-of-band patch for Internet Explorer (IE) that affects all versions of Windows. The security update fixes a memory corruption vulnerability, known as CVE-2015-2502, in IE versions 7 to 11.

How bad is it? According to Microsoft, pretty bad, hence the critical out-of-band patch.

“The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a user views a specially crafted Web page using Internet Explorer,” according to a Microsoft security bulletin. “An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user. Customers whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than those who operate with administrative user rights.”

mond has just released MS15-093, an emergency out-of-band patch for Internet Explorer (IE) that affects all versions of Windows. The security update fixes a memory corruption vulnerability, known as CVE-2015-2502, in IE versions 7 to 11.

How bad is it? According to Microsoft, pretty bad, hence the critical out-of-band patch.

This particular vulnerability takes advantage of an issue involving object storage in memory, resulting in a corruption that could allow remote code execution. Some of the attack  vectors include Web sites and HTML e-mails and worse, it’s being actively exploited in the wild.

Beyond its critical rating for IE, the vulnerability is also rated moderate for Windows Server platforms including Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2, It should be noted that the new Edge browser is not affected by this emergency security bulletin. With that in mind, you may want to download the new browser and ditch IE for good.

Just a thought.

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