Five Browers Compete on your Desktop: What is your browser of choice?

There are now so many competing browsers on your PC that, after years of a monopoly by Windows’ Internet Explorer, we’re finally having some competition. And the stuff coming out is AMAZING! This post will look at five of the choices now available for PC users running Windows XP or above. Do note: many of these browsers have Mac and Linux installs or variations. I’m writing this on a system that is in essence a five-year old system with some modifications. It is also not XP SP2. I decided not to upgrade the software on this system. So for browsers, what choices do you have on an older system? Surprisingly, quite a few.

Firefox 3

My first browser of choice is the venerable Firefox 3. It’s stable, fast and has an endless array of plugins that can be added to your installation. The current version has, I’ve found, been a little unstable on my platforms when it has invoked the Gmail site, causing my PC to slow unduly and sometimes even crash. But perhaps that is the fault of my nearly six year-old PC system! The add-ons are great but can also add extra burden to your PC or even crash Firefox. This installed fine on my older PC.

firefox browser

To download Firefox, visit or click on the image.

Flock 1.2

A seriously interesting variant of FireFox is Flock. In essence, this is Firefox in social mode and provides a lot of interaction with Web 2.0 sites, like Flickr, YouTube, Blogger, Facebook, Digg, etc.. One of the reasons I like this version is that there are a number of ways to interact with the Web 2.0 and it facilitates each of these methods. For example, you can post directly to your blog, upload images, or interact with people on Facebook without closing your browser window or what you are looking at. Plus, many of the plugins for Firefox also work for Flock. It also installed well on my PC. It is a bit of a resource hog, but so far hasn’t crashed my system.

flock browser

To download Flock, visit or click on the image.


I use Google’s Chrome at work and on my small portable, but originally I couldn’t install on this PC because of some technical reason or other about it not being XPSP2. Anyway, I liked Chrome because of its ease of use, relative speed, and its independent windows. I hate losing my work when one tab or window becomes unstable because of slowloading scripts or worse. Google designed a good looking browser that helped to mitigate that. For a while, I used it regularly at work, but I had hoped that it would install on this computer. And it did. But each time I use it, it crashed. Right now, it refuses to load any pages. So I haven’t any screenshots of it. It just refused to work. I can’t recommend this for older computers at all. It will install but it refuses to run.

No download link is provided since this failed to run properly on my system. You can google it yourself!


I’ve been using Opera for sites that were causing problems for Firefox and I’ve been impressed at its power, speed and ease of use. It was far more innovative in its GUI than any of the other browsers and is offered on a far bigger array of platforms than any other browser. While I do not use it everyday, it is my backup browser of choice because it is so rugged. Not all sites, however, play nicely with Opera. Its strengths lie in its speed, size and its ability to provide browsing, rss feeds and mail/chat services in a small and powerful format. It was the first browser with tabbing, to my recollection, and has the ability to add widgets. It also runs quickly on my system taking up a little ram only.

opera browser

To download Opera, visit or click on the image.

Apple’s Safari

I’ve reviewed Safari before, but I was frustrated for a number of reasons with Safari. I didn’t like the page rendering, it didn’t install on older machines like mine, and I didn’t take to it immediately because many of Firefox’s conveniences weren’t provided. I was able to install it on my work machine but it didn’t seem to like SP1. Now however, Safari 4 beta installed smoothly, runs fairly quickly on my system. It seems to borrow heavily from Google Chrome’s stylised offering, with buttons in the top right, and the private browsing feature. It’s too early to tell if I will switch at home to Safari. I didn’t at school and eventually removed Safari 3. Who knows? I might even keep it this time.

apple safari

To download Safari, visit or click on the image.

And now the proof of the pudding, which browser uses the most resources when showing my website’s first page which comes in at less than 600Kb.

browser resources

It’s Safari which is using over 250MB of Memory Usage. Flock and Firefox are second and third. And Opera comes in at the bottom. So, Opera really is an efficient, lower resource, more flexible browser! Why do I not use it more?

Which browsers do you have installed on your computer? What do you prefer? Which are less reliable? Share your views…

E-commerce: Why are some sites so unfriendly to customers?

Cindy, one of my colleagues at my school, has been helping us make some banners for announcements for our upcoming events and Chinese New Year Holiday. She highly recommended the software called 非常好色6是DIY美工創作的必備幫手 which translates roughly as “Very Colorful 6 is a DIY art and creative tool that is a necessary help”. The tool can be used to create pages like the ones in the image below.


In fact, she used the software to create the following Chinese New Year notice, that we are placing on our school website and handing out to students.

new year notice

In fact, she designed the funky notice. Then she exported the document using a PDF print driver called PDFCreator 0.95 (I think). The real problem came when we tried to order the software through the Interweb. I was quite surprised that the publisher called NewSoft which had an international website could run such a weird system. Rather than retype everything, here’s the email I fired off to the publisher.

Dear NewSoft…

I recently had a frustrating experience trying to buy Chinese language software from your company… Your Website for Taiwan is terrible…

1. it doesn’t work with Firefox? And that’s really not very professional…

2. when I opened it in IE7, I successfully managed to order, but the software CLOSED my browser, tried to popup a new window without my permission, and caused me to wonder why I bothered trying to order
anything from your site.

3. then when I accessed your website again, I was told that my browser (IE7) was out of date, and to download new crap onto my system… If you want customers to come into your store, do you really ask them to change their shoes and coat first… ?

I’m sorry but your e-commerce site is really awful, and I’ve done a lot of shopping online in the past: It’s not friendly to non-IE7 browsers (let’s not mention Linux!), isn’t friendly to people who can’t read Chinese fluently yet (and the buy button is so ridiculously small), and then crashed my browser, and left me wondering whether or not I had successfully completed the order.

Overall, it created unnecessary demands on e-commerce users… I wonder how many customers would bother to even try the second time, or the third time…. Like I did. Or how many would even bother to write this email… Perhaps I’ll just post it on my blog tonight…

Best Wishes

Unfortunately, in Taiwan there is a huge assumption for local websites that IE6 or IE7 is the ONLY browser in use. It’s like most companies are unaware of the need to develop websites that have core functionality that is accessible for non-IE6/7 browsers or systems. A kind gentleman called Frank that responded promptly to my email admitted as much. But he didn’t care to explain the sense of that.

Is your site browser friendly or browser neutral? Have you checked? With mobile blogging and e-commerce likely to become a big phenomenon, designing websites that are cross browser compatible is a necessity if you wish to be taken seriously in the e-commerce world. And Apple which uses Safari and Firefox as browsers is also growing its PC market share above 5% of late. Linux installs are also growing. Opera is also multi-platform as a browser, and is very standards-compliant. At the very least, functionality should degrade in a way that is not obvious to visitors.

But in the website I used, even the dropdown menus didn’t work in IE7 as well as Firefox. It just seems that if a company is serious about online business, the website needs to respect as many choices as possible, it needs to be properly tested, and it needs to be maintained. You can’t just build your website and forget about it.

error in javascript

There were other usability issues including the a javascript error, and popups to documents that can be printed out, but which may crash your browser.

So, do test your e-commerce website as much as you can before, during and after the launch. Keep it uptodate and make it as user friendly as possible. Otherwise customers will experience errors and simply close the browser, click away or enter a URL of one of your competitors, instead. All of these result in lost sales.