Case In Point: Multi Browser Man, Editorial By Loyd Case

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The Perfect Browser?

I’d use Chrome exclusively, but even the 3.0 beta is so minimalist as to be annoyingly obtuse. Sometimes I think the Google engineers screw around with the user interface just because they can, not because the UI actually does something… useful. I still can’t make heads or tails out of the bookmark manager.

Then there’s Internet Explorer. Why on earth would I ever run IE? Even IE8, which is at least somewhat more modern?

You know the answer: there are web sites out there in Internet land that only work properly with IE. There have been numerous occasions where I’ll try to edit some form, or pull down some menu, only to find out that both Firefox and Chrome won’t allow me to actually do anything useful. Also, if you use Microsoft Exchange webmail, then you get a much smoother experience using IE.  Microsoft tuning one of their apps to work better than a competitor with other Microsoft apps? Really? Who would have thought?  Like Firefox (and unlike Chrome), Microsoft does allow for add-ons to the browser. Unfortunately, there are nowhere near the quantity add-ons for Microsoft as there are Firefox plugins, although the number seems to be growing. If only someone would make an add-on that makes IE look and behave like Firefox…

IE Tab embeds instances of Internet Explorer in Firefox tabs...

Actually, I have used a Firefox plugin called IETab. If you open a site using IETab, it uses the Internet Explorer rendering engine to render web pages. It’s very handy, except for that little instability problem I’ve been having with Firefox.

Oh, and one more thing: Why haven’t we seen a 64-bit version of Firefox for Windows?

Now I’m looking at running possibly a fourth browser: Apple’s Safari. Admittedly, this is more because I’m curious than because I have a serious need. But given that a version of Safari runs on the iPhone, and that Safari’s supposed to be pretty speedy, I may give it a whirl.

What about Opera?

Opera 10

To talk about Opera, I have to talk about sound cards. Stay with me for a moment.

Way back in the early days of Windows 95 gaming, where DOS was still a popular OS, there was this sound card called the Gravis Ultrasound. It offered a very cool feature set, but implemented them in its own unique way. The Ultrasound was the Frank Sinatra of sound cards: you had to do it their way.

Opera is like the Ultrasound. I’ve tried Opera many times, and uninstalled it many times. I can see why people like it, but I can’t bring myself to trudge up the learning curve. Maybe some day.

But running yet another browser isn’t the answer. I want a single browser that does everything right: be stable, render all web sites correctly, have a robust plugin architecture and even allow different instances to be skinned differently.  Imagine one browser to rule them all. One browser for all web sites. One browser that can work in multiple different operating systems. That would be, for me, browser nirvana but we are far from that today.  Maybe as the web evolves towards HTML 5, all the various browsers and browser rendering engines will converge on a standard. I hear you laugh, but I can dream.

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