What is a Web Browser?

In simple terms, a web browser is an Internet software application that searches websites and allows a person who uses the Internet to view information contained in websites in a graphical, sound, video and text display. Technically speaking, it is an Internet-based software user interface that is capable of handling multimedia and hypertext data.

A Backgrounder on Web Browsers

Web browser technology has come so far from what it was when it started almost 2 decades ago. From its plain role as a repository of data for government scientific research, the web browsers have become one of the most powerful tools for communication, education, business, governance, and entertainment all over the world. The very first browser was text command line-based browser. It was first launched in 1991 by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva. It was in 1993 when the first graphical browser, the Voila X Window browser, was launched. But it was the Mosaic browser from National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in Chicago that put the Internet browser technology in the web map. It was developed by Marc Andreessen, who later on helped another browser, Netscape become the next hottest web browser, before its popularity was overtaken by the Internet Explorer.

Popular Types of Web Browsers

By now, there are about 10,000 web browsers of all types and sizes, practically becoming one of the most widely-used software applications as the Internet population grew by leaps and bounds. As Internet users became more discriminating with their needs and demands for browsing, web browser developers scamper and outdo each other in features, design, and functionality.

Today, the Internet Explorer which comes bundled with the Microsoft Operating Systems remains to be a very popular web browser. But ironically, one can say that it was Netscape’s dimming popularity that pushed its loyalists to come up with alternatives to Internet Explorer’s dominance in the market. Such move spawned other promising web browsers such as Firefox, Mozilla and Opera but Netscape is kept afloat by its staunch supporters.

Which is the Best Web Browser?

Owing to the fast evolution of Internet technology and the rapid changes in the browsing trends among users, there is no hard and fast rule on the factors to consider in choosing the best web browser. What may suit one user’s browsing needs might not sit well with another person’s more demanding requirements. However, one very important characteristic that every web browser must possess is “cross browser compatibility.” The idea is that a website must look and work the same way for any user no matter which web browser is used. When its webpages are viewed by the user using a web browser, such browser should be able to display the same data and work the same way as other browsers. This compatibility feature has somehow become an unspoken standard to consider for webmasters, designers and coders when building a website.

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