It’s hard to imagine a life without web browsers — a time when life once existed, unperturbed, without the whole of humanity’s collective knowledge right at our fingertips. And while it’s unlikely you’ll need to learn how to respoke a wagon wheel, or develop a slightly less stabby cultivar of the prickly pear, modern corporations nonetheless call upon the web browser for so many of its most basic business functions. But with all the options available, how do you choose which browser is right for your business? Couldn’t you just turn to the one you use at home?
The answer to that last question is a surprisingly simple “yes.” Many people prefer to rely on the browser they’re must familiar with while in the office. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but in no small part that’s because no one browser is definitively better than the rest of the pack. Rather, each of the major players — Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge — have their own pluses and minuses. What it ultimately comes down to is what exactly is most important to you, as a company.
So with that in mind, we’re taking a look at the benefits and drawbacks of each major browser in their use in business. In our last post we explored the not-so-little, quirky offshoots that could: Chrome and Firefox. This week, it’s time to turn back the clock, and take a look at the pair of O.S. dependent browsers — the progeny of two of technology’s oldest rivals: Apple Safari and Microsoft Edge.
Released in 2003, Safari is the oldest of the major players on the web browser market — but on the internet age doesn’t always equate to experience, as it were. Safari remains the dominant force on devices running Apple’s OS, but it’s not hard to see why… it’s bundled with every desktop, tablet, or phone the company makes. It’s tough to beat that kind of market penetration organically.
This leads us, perhaps, too Safari’s greatest benefit: Safari’s singular optimization for the tightly-walled garden comprising Apple’s hardware ecosystem. Aside from a few wayward years where a PC-compatible version was made available (it technically still is, though unsupported), Safari has had only one home. Safari’s integration to Apple’s graphics rendering pipeline makes for smoother user experience, although in benchmark tests it has been outperformed by Chromium engine — though not in a way your typical business user should likely pick up on.
Page latency can still be in issue, however. Since Safari boasts barely 4% of the desktop market share (including mobile that number rises to 15%), front-end developers frequently pass over it in favor of optimizing for Chrome or Firefox instead. Yes, it is possible to tailor your site to a specific web browser: company’s will always go to where the users are.
That’s not Safari’s only drawback, though: it’s dearth of extensions is pretty glaring. While it does have some, the comparison to Chrome’s library shows a night and day difference. The inability to completely build out one’s browser with productivity boosting tools is a bit of a downer.
Not to be deterred, Safari still has one or two tricks up its sleeve: it is the clear winner when it comes to battery life, and Apple takes privacy very seriously — a definite plus for anyone weary of Big Brother.
If you’re working with an Apple device, you can’t go wrong with sticking to Safari. There are a lot of things to love about it, even if it’s lacking a little here and there. The smooth scrolling is nice, though.
It’s odd describing a web browser as still wet behind the ears, but there might be no better way to start off a discussion about the newest kid on the interweb block. Microsoft Edge is a curious thing. It’s older sibling, long the laughing stock of web users everywhere (“The only reason to use IE is to download Firefox/Chrome”), has since been pulled from the market following the unveiling of Windows 10 and the buoyant, baby Edge.
Problem is, the stench of Explorer’s shortcomings still hangs like a cloud around all of Edge’s improvements — and this fog is one heck of an obscurant. Despite a massive marketing push by Microsoft, and the browser coming bundled with every new PC, Edge has yet to gain an appreciable foothold. And while it might sound like we’re being hard on Edge by bringing this all up, we’d actually be remiss if we’d not: lack of adoption has all but portended a rocky future for Microsoft’s embattled browser. And yet…
In a move that exploded 25 years of standalone precedent, Microsoft announced that it would be replacing Edge’s rendering engine with Chromium, Google’s open-source browser project. It’s a move all but studded with Super Trouper spotlights and giant, flashing arrows, all boldly pointing towards three simple words: “WATCH THIS SPACE.”
Edge is a perfectly fine browser in its own right. Not only is it a vast improvement over its predecessor, but a lot of your favorite tech people use it in tandem with Chrome and Firefox. It’s not the fastest in the world, but it’s also not the slowest. In a three-way speed test, Edge actually bests Chrome and Firefox in a few categories.
It’s also very much Microsoft’s baby. The company continues to roll-out new features with regularity, proving it is in no way planning to give up (the Chromium move loudly underscores this). It’s built-in digital assistant, Cortana, is more deeply and intuitively integrated to Edge than its competitive analogs — Apple’s Siri and Google’s eponymously named “Google Assistant.” Moreover, Windows 10 was very much designed to work seamlessly across desktop and tablet modes, which means Edge’s interface is also optimized for your fingers. Touchscreen gestures allow you to flitter intuitively about the internet. What’s more, Edge lets you scribble on web pages. What’s not to love about being able to annotate what you’re reading by hand?
If you plan to use your Microsoft laptop in tablet mode, it might make sense for you to adopt Edge — at least to some degree. Of course, how the browser will change with the introduction of Chromium remains to be seen.
That is one space we will definitely be watching.
This is actually a tough one. All of the four browsers we’ve covered — Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge — have their advantages and disadvantages… but if a meteor was streaking towards Earth a la Armageddon (or Deep Impact, if you prefer scientific accuracy), and the only way to save the world was to choose, we’d go with Chrome. It’s library of extensions is second to none, and it’s unparalleled market penetration means the majority of websites will have been optimized for it.
It’s also just really fun to say: Chrome… Chrome… Chrooooome. Chhhhrome… Chrome… Chrom-m-m-me…
We might be here for a while.
Contact JNT TEK today for advice on how to effectively use your browser to get more done at work.