Intro

As we move further in the possibilities the web provides us, the only thing holding us (the developers)  back is compatibility issues with older browsers. If you’re a developer most of this should be logical to you, but if your’re not I’m going to clear things up a little.

A browser or web browser is the application you’re using to (therefore the name) browse the web. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer comes pre-installed with windows, so does Safari under MAC OS. Leaving out the different versions and more uncommon types there are 5 major browsers out there: Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera.

So what is the difference?

Different browsers tend to display webpages differently. Especially older versions of browsers are liable in this type of behavior.

Imagine it this way old browsers are like an old black and white tube TV and a new browser is a fat 48″ Plasma Screen. Our job is it now to make a website look just as great on both devices. Seems impossible right? This is where it gets complicated. In order to make things work, developers have to use so called “Polyfills” or “Fallbacks” , these are methods to ensure the site stays usable even if some feature doesn’t work, but those only work in a certain range.

oldbrowsers_vs_newbrowsers

So why not just stop focusing on older browsers?

That’s the problem – as long as older browsers like Internet Explorer 8 still have an estimated market share of just under 23% it’s too big of a chunk to just drop it in regular projects. So if developers stopped optimizing sites for IE 8 than a lot of users wouldn’t have a good experience visiting the site.

Only if enough people start using new browser version, ruling out the old ones, we’ll be able to effectively start using the new technology that is shipped with browsers nowadays. Sadly this is a slow enduring process, so web coding-standards being introduced today will only be reliable in a few years.

Reason #1 No Costs

It’s free! None of the major browsers are with costs. So no need to worry – leave that wallet in your pocket. New technology isn’t going to cost you a dime (this time). Also upgrading to another browser will most likely not take more than 5 minutes.

Reason #2 Security

Old browsers (especially Internet Explorer versions 6, 7, and 8) are less stable, and much more vulnerable to viruses, spyware, malware, and other security issues. Those are obviously big problems to be concerned about—especially for people who shop online. — Smashing Magazine

There you have it – through continuing use of an old browser your overly exposing yourself to the risk of people stealing and abusing your information.

Reason #3 Speed

When loading a webpage the browser needs to download all kinds of different files and scripts and build the page correspondingly. New browsers can process these complicated tasks much faster – so in the long run you save a lot of time.

Modern Web-browsers are also less likely to crash during site buildup or when executing complicated scripts.

Reason #4 Compatibility

As I mentioned above new browsers are shipped with the ability to process newer coding standards such as HTML5 or CSS3. Therefore your web-experience will be enhanced because your browser can use more advanced features, like file upload per Drag ‘n’ Drop or HTML5 video,  that are provided by certain websites. Also important is that outdated browsers aren’t capable of displaying many websites correctly.

Reason #5 The Developer Side

Like I mentioned above the sooner more users start switching to modern browsers, the sooner developers can rely on new web-technologies and features and therefore make the web a safer and better environment. The key lies in your hand.

The Options

There’s a variety of advanced browsers out there. Pick one that suits you.

Google Chrome

Chrome is a very fast and advanced browser. Also it updated automatically. It was introduced by Google in 2008.

chrome logo

Mozilla Firefox

A widely- used open source browser. There are a ton of Add-Ons available for this one.

firefox_logo

Opera

Although it’s been released in 1994, Opera isn’t used as much as other  browsers. Still it comes with a lot of features.

opera logo

Safari

Very similar to Chrome, it’s mostly used under Mac OS and iOS. I wouldn’t recommend using it under Windows because Apple eventually stopped providing newer versions of Safari for Windows.

safari logo

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