I have used Windows 7 64-bit for a while now and while I was still a little hesitant at first from leaving the land of Win32, I found myself quite impressed with what I think is the best 64-bit operating system ever. That being said is Internet Explorer still the best in this version of Windows. Also in 2011 there are many great Browser choices out there now, many that people are familiar with, and from different operating systems as well. So let’s dive in and see what is good, and not so good.
1 .Microsoft Internet Explorer 9.0.1 (9.0.8112.16421 64-Bit Edition) Microsoft really outdid themselves with this one. This is not the IE of the past, yes IE7 and IE8 were great improvements and brought many new features to Internet Explorer, but IE9 really shines. It is fast, quick, and very standards compliant. The new user interface is clean but still keeps a lot of usefulness in it. Also, a few feature is being able to pin a website to the Task Bar in Windows 7 which is like putting a shortcut to the website there so you can launch it anytime, but be able to keep a different homepage for normal browsing. Currently, there is only a preview version of Adobe Flash for 64-bit which you can download from here, but hey Apple would say that Flash is not that important. I have to give IE9 the number one spot in Windows 7. You can download Internet Explorer 9 from here at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/internet-explorer/downloads/ie-9/worldwide-languages
2. Firefox 4.0.1 We have been waiting for a new version of Firefox for a while now, and it is here. Like Internet Explorer is has a new less cluttered user interface. Also, it now has an orange Firefox button up at the top left. Clicking on this brings up a Start Menu-like menu with commands and options. The user interface feels like a combination of Opera and Chrome. What makes Firefox useful in Windows 7 is its integration with the new features in the Operating System. Firefox 4 supports both Jump Lists and Tab Previews (however Tab Previews has to be enabled in the options) This makes Firefox a great alternative browser in Windows 7. Firefox 4 is fast and very standards compliant. If you have moved from Firefox to Chrome, I may suggest you look at Firefox again and see if it doesn’t win you back. You can download Firefox 4 here at www.firefox.com
3. Google Chrome 12.0.742.100 Google has taken a dud of a browser and turned it into something that competes. In fact, its user interface is what has inspired other browsers to clean their interfaces up. The sad thing is that despite it being on its 12th revision it is not more mature than it is. The only reason this is not my number two browser for Windows 7 is that it does not support Tab Previews in Windows 7 making it not as useful since I use that feature a lot. (Come on Google, Get this done in an update) It does, however, support Jump Lists. Every release it does get better and better, one of the newer features that is interesting is Instant, which tries to guess what page you are typing in the address bar and starts loading it before you are done typing. (this is not enabled by default and you will have to enable it, but it is impressive) It is fast and standards compliant making it a great contender. If you are not using Internet Explorer or Firefox, then you really should be using Chrome, if not take a look because it will surprise you. You can get Chrome from here at http://www.google.com/chrome/intl/en/make/download.html?brand=CHKZ
4. Opera 11.11 (Build 2109) When talking about Internet Browsers, there are not many that have been around as long as Internet Explorer and Opera. Opera 11 builds on an interesting browsing platform. While many Netscape fans have moved to Firefox because of the relationship between those two browsers, many Netscape fans feel more at home with Opera. It still tries to be more than just an internet browser and I would suggest any old Netscape users out there to check Opera out if you find yourself missing the old rival to Internet Explorer. Opera supports both Jump Lists and Tab Previews in Windows 7 and has its own Tab Preview like feature, if you mouse over a tab that is not being displayed, a preview of that tab will show up below the tab (pictured below). Opera is pretty quick and is standards compliant as well. The interface features a red O button in the upper left side of the window. Clicking on this brings up a master menu of commands and options. Opera actually had this button before Firefox implemented their own. If you want a browser that is different then I suggest checking out Opera 11, wich you can do so here at http://www.opera.com/browser/
5. Apple Safari 5.0.5 (7533.21.1) Apple has always done things differently, and Safari is no exception. Originally designed as part of the Apple Mac OS X operating system, they have created a Windows version and have improved it over the years. It uses most of the standard Windows interface which will make Windows users feel at home . It does support Tab Previews in Windows 7 but not Jump Lists. (Come on Apple this is useful) Safari supports multiple tabs however for some reason Apple hides this in the user interface. To open a new tab you must click on the file button on the right side and on the menu that pops up click on New Tab. While Apple’s website will say that this is the fastest browser in the world it is actually quite slow in Windows 7 compared to other browsers. It is standards compliant however and does have some interesting features like Top Sites and Safari Reader (which is supposed to unclutter a webpage making it easier to read the information on it) If you would like to check it out you can get it from here at http://www.apple.com/safari/download/
6. KDE Konqueror 4.5.4 I have not written about this Browser in Windows before but there is now a Windows version. Konqueror was originally made for the Linux operating system. Linux has been at the center of the open source community since its inception and some would say it created the open source world as we know it. That being said a group has decided to create a port of the KDE software from Linux for other operating systems, including Windows. The Windows version is a bit of Windows, and a bit of the KDE user interface from Linux. It is not as fast as any of the other browsers tested, and is not as compliant with current web standards as the other internet browsers. I also have not found out how to get it to work with Flash or Java on a Windows machine yet. But like most things out of the Linux and open source communities, it is a work in progress. It does do multiple tabs, but you have to click on File and then New Tab. It does not work with either Jump Lists or Tab Previews in Windows 7 at this time. It is interesting, and can only be installed with the KDE software installer, (no standalone installer at this point) You can check it out as well as a bunch of other free software here at http://windows.kde.org/download.php
As the internet changes, the programs we use to view it change as well. It is interesting now with the all the options including some from the Linux world. We will have to see what companies and organizations come out with next to help us do our day-to-day tasks.
If you were wondering how I test these browsers, I use my trusty Acer Aspire 5534-1146 Laptop. It has an AMD Athlon X2 L310 1.2 Ghz Processor and 4 Gb of ram. I am running Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit on here. All updates have been applied to Windows and all internet browsers, and I am using the latest versions of Flash, Adobe Reader, Silverlight, and Java. All temporary internet files and caches have been cleared with the use of Ccleaner (www.ccleaner.com) and from the programs themselves so all pages are loaded from the internet and not from local cache. For standards testing, I am using Acid3 at www.acid3.acidtests.org. I load up everyday web pages that people use and that I use in every browser and time how long it takes from hitting enter till the page has completed loading.
Check out Part 6 for Windows XP