What Is A Browser

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 22, 2009
Updated • May 21, 2018

When I worked in tech support I really had to be careful about how I'd phrase things. Terms like the web browser, the operating system's name or even keys on the keyboard might feel natural to experienced computer users, but they did confuse the hell out of the average user.

Many did not know what the web browser was, could not say the name or version of the operating system, or find the enter key on their keyboard. It was highly frustrating but one gets used to "baby-talking" them into revealing the information needed to do the job.

So, instead of asking them to start the Internet browser, I'd more often than not ask them to start the Internet, or the program that they use the Internet with, which they then did by clicking on the e-icon on their desktop or, sometimes, starting another browser.

It was a funny time back then especially considering that these inexperienced users where doing some highly sensitive stuff on the Internet including Internet banking.

Google, the maker of the Google Browser, went to Time Square, New York to find out the answer to the question "What is a browser". They asked 50 random people on the street and the results reminded me of the time I worked in tech support.

Here are some top answers:

  • A search engine
  • A website that you can search on
  • A browser is when you know what you are looking for and a search engine is when you search something
  • A way to get on

Many tech users have a hard time adjusting to this. Not that they have to at all times as it depends on the audience.

A room full of tech savvy users will use terms like browsers, network, internet all the time. Many non-tech savvy people just won't use the terms or know about them which results in communication problems.

They do not care how it is called or what else you can do with it. They simply want to perform the two or three basic tasks that they want to do with a computer and that's it.

What's your experience?

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What Is A Browser
Google, the maker of the Google Browser, went to Time Square, New York to find out the answer to the question "What is a browser".
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  1. Taco said on October 10, 2009 at 7:59 am

    Are the people “stupid” or could they just give a crap less? Be happy there’s such ignorance amongst the public it keeps many of us employed. I’ve seen these same people do amazing things in Excel and Quickbooks so I guess it’s just what you know.

  2. HellTempest said on June 22, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    The stupid….it hurts.

  3. Tobey said on June 22, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    “C – h – r – o – m – e ? Nope.”

    OK, seeing Windows all over the place day by day, it’s no wonder they’ve don’t know what Unix is for example. But not knowing what a browser is.. that gives me goose bumps. All the more these people haven’t the least clue what Opera is for instance.

    This is hardly conceivable but I bet ya there are videos out there of geeks and tech savvys being laughed at for dozens of similar reasons.

    Still, I don’t get it. :-D

  4. hybrid-kernel said on June 22, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    And this is why I can _NEVER_ work as tech support. I get an urge to beat them when they don’t know basics. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

    I guess I could work as tech support for “smarter” people.

  5. Bluegravity said on June 22, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Hilarious and sooo stupid stupid, totally loved the Google for the answer =D I have no idea, how could they even think about Google being a browser. =D

    Im giving away free rapidshare premium account:

  6. One of the good guys said on June 22, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    – What browser do you use?
    – The big “E”


    People is stupid, maybe it wouldn’t be stupid to start phishing? (No, don’t worry, im one of the “good guys”)

  7. Akmal Hisyam said on June 22, 2009 at 11:18 am

    “which browser did you use?”
    “I use Google..”


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