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Sunday, May 12, 2019

The browser war isn’t about speed anymore, it’s about features

Chrome is the king of web browsers. Many people choose Google’s offering because it’s the most reliable, fastest and it’s everywhere. Companies like Mozilla and Microsoft didn’t have an answer to all this, for a long time. Firefox recently has seen some big changes and now it’s much better competition for Chrome in terms of performance and reliability, but most Google websites, like YouTube, still work better in Chrome.

Displaying multiple tabs is convenient in Vivaldi

Microsoft shipped a new web browser, Edge, in Windows 10. It’s not a bad browser by any means. It has useful features and offers better scrolling and battery life in comparison to Chrome. But because of Chrome’s dominance, a lot of developers didn't bother to optimize their sites for Microsoft’s engine.

Microsoft decided it couldn’t beat Google this way and if you can’t beat them, you join them, so the Redmond-based company recently released a new version of Edge, which is based on Chromium — the open source version on which Chrome is based as well — and its engineers are actively contributing to the project. That means that every (accepted) change to the source code does not only improve Edge, but also Chrome and every other Chromium-based browser, like Vivaldi and Brave.

But these browsers don’t try to beat Chrome in terms of speed, they fight a different kind of war. They try to have more useful features that can be appealing to certain groups of people. Vivaldi, for example, focuses on “power users”, which are more likely to have a lot of tabs, which asks for better management solutions. The browser also is almost completely customizable.

Brave is Chromium under the hood as well, but has a lot of privacy options. It can block ad trackers, cookies and other ways you can be followed as you browse the web. It has an optional ad program of its own which doesn’t violate the user’s privacy and pays the user for seeing those ads in BAT, a cryptocurrency. The user can donate that to their favorite sites (or keep it).

Privacy options in Brave

With the new Edge, Microsoft hopes people don’t have a reason anymore to download Chrome. The browser should be at least as fast as Chrome and recently, Microsoft announced privacy-related options, a shift that can be seen more often in the tech world. It also plans to add Collections, a way to manage information and content you want to save for later.

Google might have built the best rendering engine, but the browser itself is rather bare-bones. This leaves room for others to make impact with features that people find useful. The coming years will show if they can also make an impact when it comes to market share.

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