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The Best Web Browser on the Planet


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I like to think of myself as the Dick Cheney of the Browser Wars—an unyielding proponent of greater and greater hostilities between the developers working on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Opera. As all these programmers compete with one another to make faster, more stable, and more intuitive browsers, we Web surfers keep winning.

Just two years ago, nearly half of the folks online used Internet Explorer 6.0—the slowest, buggiest, most security-flawed browser on the market. Since then, Microsoft, spurred by its rivals' advances, has released the very good I.E. 8, which is now the Web's most popular browser. I.E. 6 is still around, but now that many sites (including Google) are dropping support for it, its share is sure to plummet.

All hail the great Browser War!

Another benefit of this ceaseless conflict: Browsers keep getting faster. Mike Beltzner, the director of Firefox at Mozilla, told me recently that his browser's "javascript engine"—which runs complex, interactive Web applications like Gmail or Google Maps—is 20 percent faster in the new Firefox 3.6 than in the previous version. Keep in mind that the previous version was released just last June.

Can you think of anything else in the world that can get 20 percent better in only a few months? When I asked Beltzner how coders managed that feat, he pointed to his rivals. "Were there not other competitors who were just as interested in making Web browsers faster, I don't know if we'd be able to find the gains that we can find," he said. "Now it's a game of one-upping each other."

With apologies to Beltzner, though, I'm not going to recommend that everyone jump to the new version of Firefox. To be sure, Firefox is a fantastic browser, and if you're a fan, you'll do no wrong by upgrading.

But even though I've been a Firefox devotee since its release, and even though it has long been my default browser, today I'm declaring a new allegiance. I've decided to switch entirely to Google's Chrome. You should, too.

From Slate
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