The Mozilla team have recently released version 9 of Firefox, this being the 5th iteration of the browser this year. With the delights of CSS3 and HTML5 capabilities browser functionality for such technologies is a must with most browsers (Firefox, chrome, ie9, opera, safari) showing support.
So what browser is the “best” and why bother upgrading? Well of course this is subjective. People's tastes vary between browsers for different reasons (plugins, themes, apps etc.) but it’s certain that eventually you will visit a website that is using contemporary technologies. This highlights the importance of having an up to date browser, you will always experience the website to its full potential, not a dumbed down version that has been diluted to meet the requirements of a browser made 10 years ago (*cough* ie6). The developments of browsers happen for a reason, things change and progress and the browsers must do too. It’s simple, if you don’t keep up you will be left behind.
I personally use two different browsers. For developing websites I stick to using Firefox, simply because of the development tools it offers. For everything else I use Google’s Chrome, but what about everyone else?
The following table is taken from http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser-ww-monthly-201011-201111. It shows the usage of the 5 most popular browsers in 2011 globally.
Although still in the lead with 40.63% (November 2011), Internet Explorer is dropping in usage at a substantial rate. Firefox is also dropping but not as much, it holds a respectable 25.23% share. Chrome is rising in use, it has only been around since 2008 however it has been widely adopted and now holds the number 2 spot with 25.69% of users.
The UK statistics show a very similar story: http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser-GB-monthly-201011-201111. Here we can see that the amount of IE users are also dropping. They have almost lost a 10% share this year alone, still they hold the top spot with 42.82%. Chrome comes in second with 24.82% (a rise in 10.16%) followed closely by Firefox at 20.56% (a decrease of 2.06%).
It is worth noting that the IE usage statistics include all versions of IE. It’s only the latest version, IE9 that has good support for HTML5 and css3 (amongst other modern technologies). I would like to think that the rise in the number of websites using modern tools would contribute to people switching to something a bit more ‘up to date’ and leaving their old version of IE behind.
What does this mean for developers and users? It means we can focus on giving the users and visitors to our websites a richer experience.
BT tower: © Magnus D