The application program that serves as the primary method for accessing the World Wide Web, which is one of the major services on the Internet. In order to view a Web site, its address (URL), such as www.computerlanguage.com, is typed into the search box at the top of the browser, and the site's home page is retrieved. The home page includes an index to other pages on the site as well as to pages on other sites, and those pages are retrieved by clicking "links," which are special graphic images or text (see hypertext).|
Browsers have numerous features including bookmarks (Favorites) that store the addresses (URLs) of frequently used pages. Tabs are another useful feature that enable multiple Web pages to remain open within the browser (see tabbed browsing).
Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari...
The most widely used Web browsers are Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla's Firefox and Apple's Safari. All are free, and Firefox and Safari run in both Windows and Mac. There are also other browsers that are less widely known (see Opera and Maxthon). Google entered the browser arena in 2008 (see Google Chrome).
All browsers offer similar features, no matter which computer they run on. The way users interact with a Web page has more to do with the page than the browser. Web pages contain embedded programs that turn them into applications not much different than the software users install in their own computers.
Web Browser History
The Mosaic browser put the Web on the map in 1993, but by the mid-1990s, Netscape Navigator had 80% of the market. Vying for top spot, Netscape and Internet Explorer (IE) constantly added features that fragmented Web sites into competing camps. In the early days, one often found sites with notices such as "Best Viewed in Netscape" or "Best Viewed in Internet Explorer."
By 2008 Internet Explorer, which comes with Windows, had roughly 74% of the market, while Firefox had 18%. Safari came in third with 6%, and Opera and Netscape each had less than 1%. See World Wide Web, Mosaic, Opera, Firefox, Mozilla, Safari, Google Chrome, Maxthon, hyperlink, HTML and microbrowser.
Internet Explorer for Windows (top) and Firefox, shown here on the Mac (bottom) are the most widely used Web browsers. No matter which browser or platform, the user interacts with the Web page and its embedded code in a nearly identical manner.
A highly respected browser with its own following, Opera was the first to offer features such as the ability to magnify an image (see