Today's Web Browser Landscape

Martin Brinkmann
May 30, 2012
Updated • Jan 1, 2013

The web browser landscape has changed considerably in recent years. Especially the introduction of the Google browser has shuffled around the landscape quite a bit. On today's Internet, there are five major web browsers who all have a market share of more than 1%. Of the five, three got the backing of multi-billion Dollar corporations, while two, Mozilla Firefox and Opera, are maintained by smaller organizations and companies.

Below you will find an overview of today's web browser landscape, and a list of lesser known alternatives that you may want to take a look at as well.

Microsoft Internet Explorer

internet explorer

Internet Explorer has come a long way, and it appears that Microsoft is finally putting resources behind the web browser. Internet Explorer 9 is a step in the right direction, especially when compared to previous versions of the browser. IE9 is faster, supports a variety of newer technologies (could be better but still), and is a force to be reckoned with thanks to its integration into the Windows operating system.

Internet Explorer 10, which will come out later this year when the Windows 8 operating system gets released, will improve the browser further. If there is one thing to criticize it is the beginning fragmentation of the browser, as Microsoft limits newer versions of the browser to the last two released operating system. For Internet Explorer 9 it means that Windows XP users won't be able to install or upgrade to the browser, for Internet Explorer 10, it is Vista users who share the same fate.



Opera has been the underdog in the desktop browser niche for a very long time despite being around for more than 15 years. One reason for not getting enough traction in the browser market is the lack of marketing resources that Google for instance made massive use of to push the Chrome browser into the market.

Opera itself is still seen by many as one of the most innovative browsers around, which can be attributed to technologies like Opera Turbo and other improvements that were introduced into the browser. Not all of them paned out as intended though, especially the widget engine lacked features when compared to Firefox extension engine. Opera has however introduced its own extension engine recently.

Currently a rumor makes the round that Facebook is interested in buying Opera Software which could offer new opportunities for the browser, but also alienate part of the browser's loyal following.

Mozilla Firefox

mozilla firefox

The rise of Google Chrome has hurt the Firefox web browser, at least when it comes to market share. Back when Firefox first entered the field it was considered innovative thanks to its extensions engine which allowed third party developers to create add-ons for the browser to change, remove or improve functionality.

The last two years have been particularly troublesome for the Firefox browser, first because of the rise of Google Chrome, but then also because of changes that the developers introduced. Especially the switch from Firefox 3 to 4, and then the decision to follow Chrome's release often policy need to be mentioned in this regard. It did not help either that the first five or six versions of the rapid release process did not really introduce highly visible features to the browser.

This is however changing right now, with the two digit versions of the browser introducing much needed improvements to the browser's memory usage, overall performance and underlying technologies.

Alternatives include Pale Moon, an optimized version for Windows.

Google Chrome

The Chrome browser jump-started into popularity thanks to Google's marketing efforts and the fact that developers concentrated on speed first. It is still one of the fastest, if not the fastest, browsers on today's Internet, even though not by as much as before.

Google managed to establish the browser in record time, with some analysts seeing it in the top spot browser market share wise. It is a functional browser with some interesting technologies that however lacks some features that browsers like Firefox or Opera offer. In terms of interface customizations for instance, it is worse than Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Google appears to have reduced its marketing efforts recently, likely because the browser reached a critical mass, and because of the company using the same strategies to increase the market share of its Google+ service in very much the same way.

If you do not like Google's browser, try its Open Source alternative Chromium, or more privacy orientated spin-offs like Cool Novo or SRWare Iron.


apple safari

Apple seems to be the only company that is not putting lots of efforts behind the Safari browser. That's not making the browser inferior to others, especially not since it is sharing the WebKit core with the Chrome browser. The lack of support however holds the browser back. While it still managed to gain some traction, this can mostly be attributed to it being the default web browser on Macintosh systems, which in recent time have grown in popularity.

It is not a bad browser by all means but there is also nothing special about it that would make users switch to Safari, especially since much of the technology and feature set is also included in Google Chrome.


A handful of niche browsers are available that the majority of the Internet community probably has never heard of. Here is a small selection of browsers that fit the profile.

Maxthon has a lot going for it. The Windows browser comes with Chrome's fast rendering engine, and Microsoft's Internet Explorer engine, so that it is possible to switch between engines whenever needed. The browser recently managed to surpass Chrome in the HTML5 test and packs additional interesting features like an option to download videos from video sites like YouTube.

SeaMonkey is based on the Firefox web browser, but aims to be a full application suite rather than a single-purpose web browser. It is in this regard similar to Opera, which also includes email and newsgroup clients, IRC chat and other features that the majority of browsers do not ship with.

Lunascape includes rendering engines from Chrome, Internet Explorer and Mozilla. Especially the integration of Firefox's engine is interesting in this regard, as it allows users to run Firefox add-ons in the browser. You can read a recent review of Lunascape here.

Avant Browser, another browser that ships with three rendering engines, which are actually the same that Lunascape ships with.


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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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