Should I be using multiple Web Browsers?

It has been many years since we have talked about Netscape Navigator, the first popular web browser. This industry changing solution hit “end of life (EOL)” back in March 2008. Since then, various others have held the top spot within the industry.

It has now become very common for users to utilize multiple browsers. When we make this recommendation to our clients, many of our clients ask, why? Here are the reasons we give them:

  • You can store all of your favorite personal websites (bookmarks) in one browser and work websites in another browser. While we do not recommend visiting your personal websites during work hours, you may have the need when working late at the office or on weekends. Likewise, you can access your work websites when working from home.
  • We are finding that workers need to access multiple accounts at the same time. A sales manager may want to log into the CRM system as one of their reps who are on vacation, while also being logged in their manager account. You need to leverage separate browsers in order to do this.
  • Many web applications work better in one browser versus the other. In fact, when companies upgrade their solutions, they will sometimes release the upgrade at different times for the various browsers on the market. It has become very common that when a user calls the helpdesk with a web application issue, the first thing they are asked to do is log in to the same application via a different browser.
  • Once you get use to multiple browsers, it really helps you become more productive. This is especially true when you leverage multiple monitors.

Here is a quick summary of the browsers to choose from:

  • Research data shows that Google’s “Chrome” browser is currently the most used browser (and by a significant margin).
  • Windows PCs come with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) or, with Windows 10, their new “Edge” browser.
  • Mac computers come with Apple’s Safari browser, which is also very good and works in tandem with the other native Apple applications. Safari is not available on the Windows platform, so this browser could be limiting for users who might have a Mac at home but a Windows PC at work.
  • The other two alternatives are Firefox and Opera. Both of these solutions are “hardware independent.” We find them to be the best options when you need a second or third web browser on your computer.

Since using the web is largely about “search”, Google’s Chrome browser is well designed to help you do just that.  It’s also fast and secure. Chrome is also very good at handling the different types of streaming media, so whether you want to watch movies on Netflix or listen to music with Pandora, Chrome works well.

Whichever browser you decide to use, it’s worth taking the time to learn some of the key principles.  For example, whenever you visit a website, the browser “window” is filled by that site’s content.  It is possible to have multiple windows active in a browser (they are call “tabs”) but you can only view one at a time.  Bookmarks are another very useful feature, letting you quickly get to websites that you have visited in the past and have “favorited”.  Using a web browser like Chrome, it is also possible to download and install all sorts of useful ‘extensions”, such as “AdBlock Plus”, which stops those annoying pop-up adverts from appearing while you browse.

Browsers have become a critical ingredient of the computer.  In fact, Google has built a whole computer operating system around their Chrome browser, which powers a growing range of devices known as “Chromebooks”.  These are “computers” that are primarily designed to be used online, and instead of relying mainly upon applications running on the device (as PCs do), they mostly work with applications that are accessed and run online – in “the Cloud”.  As we move toward an era of being “always connected”, this approach makes sense for an increasing number of people and reduces hardware cost.