webOk, I’m not writing about an opera…I’m writing about web browsers.

Take yourself back to 1990 (if you can). Michael Jordan hadn’t won his first NBA Championship yet. (Go Pistons!)  The Cincinnati Reds won the World Series!  A gallon of gas cost around $1.35. Cheers (NBC) was the top TV show. And who could forget…Tim Berners-Lee invented the first web browser.

Fast forward 23 years and there are several web browsers competing for their own slice of the usage pie.  Desktops, tablets, and smartphones all come with a default browser installed, but there are several web browsers available to choose from.

My favorite right now is Chrome.  It’s a free web browser developed by Google, initially released in September of 2008.  The browser is simple, fast, and easy to use.  It’s available for your desktop, tablet and smartphone.

Other popular browsers:

Internet Explorer (commonly abbreviated IE) is a web browser developed by Microsoft, initially released in 1995.  It’s the most frequently used web browser for PCs, most likely because it’s the only web browser that comes installed in the Windows operating system.

Mozilla Firefox is a free and open source web browser by Mozilla Foundation, initially released September 2002.  Mozilla’s lineage traces all the way back to the 1990’s; it is an offshoot of Netscape – which dominated the market before Internet Explorer.

Safari is a web browser developed by Apple Inc. and included with the Mac OS X and iOS operating systems, initially released January 2003.  IPhones, iPads, and Mac PCs have become very popular and by default are shipped with Safari as their web browser – Safari is also available (free) for other operating systems.

Opera is a free web browser and Internet suite developed by Opera Software, initially released in 1994.  I’ve never used this one, but I have heard good things.

Usage statistics from NetMarketShare indicate IE currently owns almost 58% of the market share; that number was 64% at the end 2009.  Thanks to the tablet and smartphone explosion, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari have really made gains over the last few years.  According to W3schools.com (a website that offers free tutorials in all web development technologies), 12% of the visitors to their site use IE, 53% use Chrome, 28% use Firefox, 4% use Safari, and 2% use Opera.  Using 2009 again for comparison, 37% of the visitors used IE, 46% used Firefox, 10% used Chrome, 4% used Safari, and 2% used Opera.

I’ll continue to track browser usage over the next couple of years.  Which browser do you think will continue to gain market share and why?  Which browser do you prefer and why?

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