A web browser is a software graphical user interface that allows a user to search and view all content of a website such as text, graphical images, videos and other data. A free or open source web browser is a non-proprietary web browser which can be downloaded and used for free for a limited or unlimited period of time.
It is noteworthy to mention that the earliest popular proprietary web browser Netscape Navigator paved the way for the development of first open source web browsers. Launched in 1994, it remained to be at the top of the users’ list until it was overtaken by the Internet Explorer (IE) beginning 1998. Up until now, IE owes its popularity to the fact that it has been bundled with the Microsoft Operating Systems. As Netscape Navigator’s market share dwindled, this paved the way for the development of other web browsers. The short but eventful launch of Mozilla, the free web browser developed as an offshoot of Netscape’s open-sourced products marked the growing trend for other alternatives. A project that started in 2002 eventually led to the release of Mozilla Firefox in 2004. In 1996, free web browser Opera was launched. Popular among Unix users is the Lynx browser. Mac users now use Camino, and also Firefox.
Free Web Browsers = Best Quality Browsers?
Owing to the fact that free web browsers came about as a result of the search for better alternatives to IE and other non-open source web browsers, it seems logical to conclude that open web browsers are better than proprietary ones. However, there a few number of proprietary browsers that have its share of loyalists among niche markets. This includes Safari for Mac users, Netscape Navigator which is now ported to Mac and Windows PC, cross-platform Opera, and of course, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
Top 5 Free Web Browsers
Here are some of the more popularly used free web browsers:
- Mozilla Firefox – an open source web browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation that is available for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.
- Opera – a web browser developed by Opera Software that is available for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, FreeBSD and Solaris.
- Lynx – a cross-platform non-graphical, text only web browser.
- Epiphany – a browser developed for the Linux platform GNOME desktop.
- K-Meleon – developed for hardware and software that cannot support Mozilla browsers.