Monday, October 14, 2019

Browsers -my view

If you are highly computer literate then please accept my apologies for boring the pants off you with really basic stuff, that is just my personal opinion and containing very little that is startling.

I assume by now that if you are using Windows, you are all using Windows 10, and if not Microsoft will soon force you to migrate to it by ending support for their other versions, (Windows 8 support has already ended, Windows 8.1 ends 1/10/2023 and for those of you still on Windows 7 you have only until 14/01/2020). If you continue to use unsupported versions of Windows, your PC will still work, but it will become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Your PC will continue to start and run, but you will no longer receive software updates, including security updates from Microsoft, and anyway Windows 10 is much more secure than its predecessors. All the horror stories are hopefully now history and it has finally turned into a good operating system that is easy to use.

With that in mind we come to what I consider to be the part that lets it down, Microsoft Edge, which is the default browser in Windows 10. Sadly this project has been a failure in many ways since its inception, but Microsoft has now taken a leaf out of Google's book and has rewritten it as a Chromium browser, which now has little in common with the original version. This is in beta version as I write and works as a simple browser and is now a standalone item that is updated more regularly than Windows. Give it a try if you want but be prepared to be underwhelmed at the moment, but it gets my vote as the one with the most potential.

Luckily there are a number of great alternatives out there:-

Starting with my favourite.

Chrome. Works across Android, Windows Linux and Mac OS. Robust, full Google Account integration and obviously as it's from Google, the makers of Android, contains a great suite of reliable mobile apps and it also blocks some ads that are not industry standard. On the downside some of those pecky ads you see when using it are generated by Google itself (Ad blockers and the like will be the subject of a future blog). The bottom line is that Chrome is fast, free, light and either fully featured or pared down depending on your needs. Privacy and security controls are in plain English and tuneable to meet your needs. If you are not sure which browser to use then my advice is to start by downloading Chrome first and if you really don't like it then try Mozilla Firefox which I put as a very close second option.

Mozilla Firefox is a capable browser, with a deep catalogue of extensions and user interface customization. It's quicker and more streamlined than ever before. Grab the mobile Firefox app and you'll be able to share bookmarks between devices, but you'll have to sign up for a Firefox account. Unfortunately, managing settings across platforms isn't as seamless as it is in Chrome, however due to it having been around for ever some older apps work better on Firefox than they do on Chrome.

Opera is also a viable browser for your consideration, it shares much of Chrome's DNA, but has a few more features as standard parts of the browser (which in Chrome are add on extensions), plus it is compatible with Chrome's extensions. With the changes that are scheduled for the near future, Opera could soon turn into the browser of choice for many people.

There are a number of browsers I have not mentioned including Internet Explorer, which Microsoft have effectively dumped in favour of the Edge, Safari on the Mac which is not as fast as Chrome but adequate still. As this is my personal pick, I have to mention the Tor Browser, which is effectively a version of Firefox that attempts to mask your details by routing your traffic through a number of servers. This is not totally foolproof but if you configure it correctly and combine it with a VPN it should go a long way to allowing you to remain anonymous while surfing the web.