Ah, the Internet browser. A simple software that opens the world to you right at your desk - surfing the information superhighway so to speak. While browsers used to be simple a affair with basic functions, they have since come a long way. No longer do folks want to just read pieces of text off the web, browsers these days offer greater functionality for users, from video playback to online games or even basic office productivity tools (like Google Docs).
Therefore it's no surprise to find that browsers are very much in the forefront of the competition that's heating among the good folks who make the browsers that we are using. Cloud computing is very much on their minds as more as more applications moving onto the web. As such, browsers that can handle more complex functions easily, offer speedy response and good compatibility are the trump cards to entice users to make the switch.
While Microsoft's Internet Explorer has been the dominant force in the browser market for quite a while now, it has seen its market share dipping steadily the past year while Mozilla's Firefox browser has been steadily inching its share upwards. Apple's Safari and Opera's Opera browser are also hanging at the sidelines, while Google decided to join in the fray last year with its own Chrome browser.
Google's Chrome has certainly shaken things up with its blazing performance, but other browsers too have speed improvements in the works, with Mozilla prepping Minefield, the next version of Firefox that promises to be faster than Chrome. Of course, Google wasn't going to take this sitting down and has released Chrome 2.0 beta, and have claimed that its 2.0 version brings to the table even more speed increases, though whether the final build of Minefield or Chrome 2.0 is faster remains to be seen. Apple, too hasn't been quiet and has also released a beta version of Safari 4, with touted speed improvements.
Of course we can't neglect the software giant Microsoft who recently struck back with its eight version of its web browser. Even though it is the first browser to break its beta duck, IE8 looks to be a solid contender and offers plenty of speed refinements among other improvements over its older versions.
With so much competition going on, we decided to take a snapshot view of how all the latest browser builds from the various vendors match up at this point of time, even though they are in a beta stage. We'll be giving you a detailed rundown of the browser wards over the following pages.