Introduction : BROWSERS

a kid holding the logo of browsersBrowsing the Internet involves using the system browser's and surfing the variety of web pages. The word "browser" itself has had an circumstantial naming since the Internet as whole is a collection of Web pages, and when we surf the Internet we actually browse a variety of Web pages-hence the word browser is used.Some of the popular browsers used for surfing are 'Internet Explorer', 'Mozilla Firefox' , 'Netscape' and 'Opera.' Amongst the New ones 'Google Chrome ' is also emerging as the good browser as it provides some additional features to its users.

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This is one browser that is dedicated to the Mac Operating System. For the general public, Macintoshes have always been computers that you want to own, but not necessarily use for work. However, there are a niche set of users who swear by the Macintosh for their daily tasks.

Safari was a browser that toppled Internet Explorer as the default browser in the Macintosh. It made its debut on June 23, 2003 and was the default browser in the OS X v 10.3 operating system.With the release of Mac OS X v10.4, Safari is the only Web
browser included with the operating system.

Safari uses Apple’s WebKit application framework for rendering Web pages and for running JavaScript. WebKit is comprised of two other frameworks which are WebCore an HTML parser based on KHTML and JavaScriptCore which is based on KJS. The Safari browser is a delight to use. It has a bookmark management scheme, contains the integrated Apple QuickTime multimedia technology (obviously!) and also features tabbed browsing. The Google search engine box is the default search engine for the browser. Other features include software that automatically fill out Web forms and spell check entries into Web page text fields. The latest version of Safari was released on April 29, 2005 and includes a built in RSS and Atom reader. It also includes a private browsing mode (which does not record any information of your Web visit) and Parental Controls. It now also has the ability for saving Web sites completely as Web Archives.

In this section, we have talked about browsers from the past and those available currently. A browser, as mentioned earlier, is the first gateway to the Internet for any user across the planet— irrespective of the OS used. Browser evolution is a constant and consistent process, and newer browsers such as Avant and Deepnet provide more functionality to your browsing without weighing down your computer resources. For now, you should choose the browser that best suits your needs.

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Mozilla FireFox

Mozilla Firefox is the hottest new browser on the scene and it has taken computers users worldwide by storm. Firefox has made a measurable depression in the market share of the world’s favorite browser and that too in an era when users are taking to computers like a duck to water.

Firefox has quite a history of its own, a very young but interesting history. Firefox began not as Firefox, but as Phoenix, which was made available to the public on September 23, 2002. The first build of the browser which was the 0.1 version was not available as an installer, but as an executable. You needed to click on the executable to start the browser. The Phoenix browser used a large amount of Mozilla source code and the initial release was codenamed “Pescadero”, Spanish for “angler”.

Feature-wise it was extremely primitive, but it still contained some useful features Mozilla Firefox such as a popup blocker, tabbed browsing and an integrated download manager. However, shortcut features such as writing the URL then pressing [Ctrl] + [Enter] to automatically fill in the "www." and “.com” parts of the URL were not available in version 0.1. Phoenix 0.2 was released a few days later on 10 October 2002 and had plenty of more features compared to the previous release.The major change in this version was the tool bar which had undergone a complete change. The side bar made its first appearance in this version.

Other enhancements were implemented including new options to the preferences section. Now users were able to disable Java and edit some tabbed-browsing options. Phoenix 0.2 also introduced the ability to add extensions and themes to the browser. Phoenix version 0.3 was the first release of Mozilla that had an integrated search engine by default in the toolbar. The Mozilla team at the time was concentrating on enhancing the browser and spent most of their time on doing that. Although this release had bug fixes, it was still buggy and unstable.

The next major change came with the release of the Firebird browser. Yes, Mozilla changed the name of the browser from Phoenix to Firebird. This was done to avoid trademark issues with a company called Phoenix Technologies, which makes a browser of its own. After months of brainstorming, the Mozilla team rested on a new name, Firebird. However, the name Firebird had to be changed again later because Firebird was the name of an open source development project that makes a relational database. The general look and feel of the browser was also changed to support the name change. The term “Preferences” turned into “Options”, and the Options window obtained some eye candy. If Firebird 0.6 crashed, the user was now able to submit a message to the developers about this error. The downside to this new browser was the increase in the file size which was an increase by about 6MB.

With all the other bug fixes and releases happening in a span of over a few months, the next change was the re-christening of the browser, again. As mentioned earlier, Firebird was the name of an open source development project that makes a relational database and to avoid the legal issues the Mozilla team settled for the name Firefox after some further brain-storming and research in trademark names. This was mainly because it was closely similar to its previous name, Firebird. With the new name came a new logo: the now famous image of the Flaming Red Fox wrapped around the Globe. Staying true to the logo, the browser spread like wildfire in the coming ays.Firefox 0.8 was the first release to feature a Windows installer. All the previous versions were zip files containing an executable. The theme of the browser remained the same, almost. However, improvements were made to the toolbar features. The default search engine was Google and you also had the option of installing (adding) newersearch engines. The installer was also unique since it gave users the option to install the browser with or without the developer tools.

Soon, Firefox PR 0.10 was released. This was the first build to let users use RSS feeds to read in their bookmarks. Other default search engines such as,,, and Yahoo were also added to this version of the browser. Other improvements in this release were a lot of bug fixes and security patches.

Finally, version 1.0 codenamed Phoenix was released in November 9, 2004. It had support for English, French, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese, Italian and hordes of other languages. As soon was this was made available, downloads of this browser reached a peak and it was downloaded over 1 million times in one day! This speaks oodles about the quality of the browser and the acceptance level of Firefox among users worldwide.

Currently as we write, the latest version of Firefox is 1.0.4. The strongest point of this browser is that it is open source. You can make a million modifications to it, customise it and just keep adding… There are thousands of extensions, themes and add-ons available for Firefox and with each passing day, the number grows. However, this may also be a drawback, as sometimes too many extensions can cause problems as well.

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Opera has always been seen as a browser for users who do not trust IE and want something faster and lighter than Netscape. The Opera browser was started in 1994 as a research project in Norway’s telecom company Telenor. Two engineers from the same company developed the browser Opera for the company’s intranet. On July 14th 1996, Opera’s co-founder Jon von Tetzchner made the first public announcement of Opera on UseNet and Opera came into being for the general public.

Opera was written from a scratch and is not based on the NCSA Mosaic code or interface methodology (as Internet Explorer or Netscape are.) This gives it some unique browsing features such as page zoom, a multi-document interface browsing environment and mouse gestures. It has an extremely small footprint and boasts of an impressive feature set, with great support for HTML, XML, WML, CSS (one of the best implementations), JavaScript, DOM and Java.

Opera Series 1 was not released for the public and was called MultiTorg Opera. This version was used for the Telenor Intranet. The first public version of Opera was the Series 2. The first version is a Norwegian demo version of Opera 2.0 that was included with a PC Magazine and loaded only local Norwegian pages. Series 3 was the first coming in terms of acceptance for Opera worldwide. Version 3.62 was the first version of Opera in terms of features, stability and speed. CSS support was exceptional in this version of Opera.

Opera Beta 4 was released in March 2000 and had support for most of CSS2, all of CSS1, HTML4, XML, and WML. This version was based on a cross-platform core and facilitated the release of Opera for different Operating Systems. A new integrated email client was also included in this version. The first versions of Opera 4 were quite stable and buggy and it was after the release of 4.02 that the browser actually became useful.

The Opera 5 release was noticed by the general public, since this time the browser was not on a 30-day trial period but was adsupported hence people could use the browser long after the 30- day period. New features that were added to this release were mouse-gestures, Instant Messaging features hot list panels and an integrated search. In fact, many users are still using this version of the browser till date.

The long awaited Unicode support was introduced in the Opera 6 release and a new SDI MDI interface was also introduced in the same release. The Opera 6 series was one of the most stable and it was with this release that Opera garnered its own fans and a cult following, but was still miles away from making a dent in either Netscape’s or Internet Explorer’s market shares.

Opera 7 was released in early 2003 and featured a brand new rendering engine called Presto. This engine enhanced and expanded its support for standards and included W3C DOM and the Small Screen Rendering technique for handheld devices. The interface was redone entirely with a custom cross-platform skinning system which significantly reduced resource usage, keyboard shortcuts, mouse gestures, menus and toolbars.

Other new features that were included in this release were features such FastForward,Notes and Slideshow, which made the user experience even more enjoyable. A new news and mail client called M2 was introducedin this version as well as a RSS news reader and an IRC chat client.Opera 8 was released in early 2005 and is currently in version 8.0.1. The major reason for Opera being accepted publicly was not because of its compliance in standards with other browsers, but because of the non-standard browsing enhancements that were absent in its competitors. It is light weight and has its own cult of fans. It has innovative features and is one of the most used browsers on mobile devices.

Currently, Opera has started making inroads in other embedded systems platforms as well. Opera’s market share is starting to make a bit of a dent with users sticking to this alternative browser rather than using Internet Explorer or Netscape. Plus, many of Opera’s innovative features are finding their way into other browsers as well. One of them is FireFox, the browser that we will be talking about next.

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