12 ways web browsers differentiate themselves

Everybody uses a browser to surf the Internet right?

So it’s simply a matter of choosing your preferred application for this task… and this is a decision often influenced by pre-installed options on a user’s preferred choice of hardware and therefore platform.

If you don’t get on with Internet Explorer, then there’s always Chrome, Safari, Opera, Firefox — and even Flock, Maxthon, Deepnet Explorer and Phaseout 5.

Browsers differentiate themselves by virtue of the way they handle elements such as:

• tab scrolling and pinning,

• session restore options,

• mobile device connectivity,

• efficiency in CPU usage & therefore speed,

• automated update options,

• notification bars and alerts,

• search direct from URL bar option,

• tab stacking,

• CSS3 features,

• keyboard navigation options

• the way downloads are handled,

• and… customisability and add-on options.

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Now that group of a dozen characteristics aren’t the de facto 12 architectural commandments for browser app creation, but they do cover most of the basics.

The last point, customisability and Add-on options is what probably gives the open source Firefox browser its particular flavour (and not inconsiderable success) among its users.

On this very point then, Mozilla has just announced that Firefox Add-ons downloads have now crossed the three billion mark. Introduced in 2004 to desktop and 2009 to mobile devices, Firefox Add-ons enable users to customise the features, functionality and the look of their web experience.

Firefox was in fact the first browser to introduce Add-ons for desktop and mobile devices and Mozilla now confirms that more than 85% of Firefox users have Add-ons installed, which is an average of five Add-ons installed per user.

According to the Mozilla official developer blog, “The most popular add-ons include AdBlock Plus, Firebug, NoScript, Personas Plus and Video DownloadHelper. Most popular categories include privacy and security, search tools, bookmarks and themes.”

“There are more than 150,000 user-created collections of Firefox Add-ons to choose from, including Family Organizer, Traveler’s Pack, Sports Fanatic, The Paranoid Kit, Web Developer’s Toolbox and Online Shopping.”