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Microsoft's Spartan browser vs. the rest: How will it stack up?

Jon Gold | April 15, 2015
Browser battle: Microsoft Spartan vs. Google Chrome vs. Mozilla Firefox vs. Microsoft IE

For the moment, those features seem to be keeping Chrome in the ascendancy. Moves like the upcoming adoption of HTTP/2 a new web protocol that should further boost performance reflect a continued focus on a successful design philosophy. Probably the biggest point of criticism for Chrome is that its integration with the rest of Google's services and, consequently, with its ludicrously profitable advertising business makes for something of a privacy nightmare.

Google's ongoing legal battles over user privacy in general particularly in the European Union may scare off those for whom privacy is a well-understood and important issue, but beyond that, users as a whole haven't let those concerns stop them from adopting Chrome in huge numbers.

Firefox

From its roots in the wreckage of Netscape Navigator, Firefox has become among the best-known and most-used pieces of open-source software in the world but it's never quite taken over the market the way some thought it might when it really started to take off, about a decade ago.

It's tough to escape the conclusion that Chrome essentially stole Firefox's thunder taking over as the alternative to Internet Explorer before Firefox had fully stepped into the role. The flexibility, via the huge ecosystem of extensions, is still there, but the browser's reputation (fair or unfair) for lackluster performance next to its Google-powered rival may have damaged its brand.

But Firefox is starting to find its stride again in terms of development and features a new focus on performance is evident from the first new release of 2015, and the WebRTC communication gadget Hello is an intriguing one. Firefox isn't done yet.

Internet Explorer

Finally, what about Internet Explorer? Well, for starters, it's essentially doomed Spartan, or whatever its eventual release name is, is definitely Microsoft's browser of the future. But IE will stick around for a while, largely for compatibility reasons.

It's not a standout, in terms of features or performance but it's at least been developed more assiduously than it was during its long period of unchallenged primacy, and remains a perfectly usable browser today. Unless you want to use a better one, that is. Or if you're on a Mac, where IE hasn't worked in 10 years.

IE's never going to win many popularity contests among developers, but it's undeniably still one of the most-used browsers in the world, and will continue to be a factor long after the release of Spartan even if Spartan will be Microsoft's main attempt to re-conquer the space.

 

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