If you’ve ever surfed the Internet or visited a website, you will have used a web ‘browser’. As the Internet has grown in popularity over the last decade, web browsers have become as important a piece of software as word processing and spreadsheets.
But, what is a ‘browser’? What browsers are available? And what features do they share? We answer these questions.
What is a browser?
Web browsers allow you to surf the web. A browser is basically a piece of software that allows you to search for and view various kinds of information on the web, such as web sites, video and audio. The main purpose of a browser is to display information resources to you.
The first web browser was invented in 1990 but it wasn’t until the invention of the Mosaic browser (later Netscape) that the Internet boom of the 1990s began.
The most popular browsers
There are three web browsers that dominate the market: Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
Figures from Net Applications show that Internet Explorer had a 54.1 per cent market share in May 2012, while Mozilla's Firefox was No. 2 with 19.7 per cent. Google’s Chrome browser was the third most popular with a 19.6 per cent market share.
As well as these three browsers there is a range of other popular ways of accessing the web. Many Mac users use the Apple Safari browser while other browsers such as Opera remain popular with many web users.
Common features shared by browsers
Most major web browsers have these features in common:
· A refresh button to reload the current page
· Back and forward buttons
· A home button to return to your homepage
· A stop button to cancel loading the current page
· An address bar into which you can type the address of the web page you wantA status bar to display the progress in loading the web page
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