Web browser

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A web browser (commonly referred to as a browser) is a software application for accessing information on the World Wide Web. When a user requests a particular website, the web browser retrieves the necessary content from a web server and then displays the resulting web page on the user's device.

Contents

A web browser is not the same thing as a search engine, though the two are often confused. [1] [2] For a user, a search engine is just a website, such as Google Search, Bing, or DuckDuckGo, that stores searchable data about other websites. However, to connect to a website's server and display its web pages, a user must have a web browser installed. [3]

Web browsers are used on a range of devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. In 2019, an estimated 4.3 billion people used a browser. [4] The most used browser is Google Chrome, with a 64% global market share on all devices, followed by Safari with 17%. [5]

History

The first web browser, called WorldWideWeb, was created in 1990 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. [6] He then recruited Nicola Pellow to write the Line Mode Browser, which displayed web pages on dumb terminals; it was released in 1991. [7]

Nicola Pellow and Tim Berners-Lee in their office at CERN. NPellow.jpg
Nicola Pellow and Tim Berners-Lee in their office at CERN.
Marc Andreessen, lead developer of Mosaic and Navigator Marc Andreessen.jpg
Marc Andreessen, lead developer of Mosaic and Navigator

1993 was a landmark year with the release of Mosaic, credited as "the world's first popular browser". [8] Its innovative graphical interface made the World Wide Web system easy to use and thus more accessible to the average person. This, in turn, sparked the Internet boom of the 1990s, when the Web grew at a very rapid rate. [8] Marc Andreessen, the leader of the Mosaic team, soon started his own company, Netscape, which released the Mosaic-influenced Netscape Navigator in 1994. Navigator quickly became the most popular browser. [9]

Microsoft debuted Internet Explorer in 1995, leading to a browser war with Netscape. Microsoft was able to gain a dominant position for two reasons: it bundled Internet Explorer with its popular Microsoft Windows operating system and did so as freeware with no restrictions on usage. Eventually the market share of Internet Explorer peaked at over 95% in 2002. [10]

WorldWideWeb was the first web browser. WorldWideWeb FSF GNU.png
WorldWideWeb was the first web browser.

In 1998, Netscape launched what would become the Mozilla Foundation to create a new browser using the open source software model. This work evolved into Firefox, first released by Mozilla in 2004. Firefox reached a 28% market share in 2011. [12]

Apple released its Safari browser in 2003. It remains the dominant browser on Apple platforms, though it did not become popular elsewhere. [12]

The last major entrant to the browser market was Google. Its Chrome browser, which debuted in 2008, steadily took market share from Internet Explorer and became the most popular browser in 2012. [13] [14] Chrome has remained dominant ever since.

In terms of technology, browsers have greatly expanded their HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and multimedia capabilities since the 1990s. One reason has been to enable more sophisticated websites, such as web applications. Another factor is the significant increase of broadband connectivity, which enables people to access data-intensive web content, such as YouTube streaming, that was not possible during the era of dial-up modems.

Function

The purpose of a web browser is to fetch information resources from the Web and display them on a user's device.

This process begins when the user inputs a Uniform Resource Locator (URL), such as https://en.wikipedia.org/, into the browser. Virtually all URLs on the Web start with either http: or https: which means the browser will retrieve them with the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). In the case of https:, the communication between the browser and the web server is encrypted for the purposes of security and privacy.

Once a web page has been retrieved, the browser's rendering engine displays it on the user's device. This includes image and video formats supported by the browser.

Web pages usually contain hyperlinks to other pages and resources. Each link contains a URL, and when it is clicked or tapped, the browser navigates to the new resource. Thus the process of bringing content to the user begins again.

Most browsers use an internal cache of web page resources to improve loading times for subsequent visits to the same page. The cache can store many items, such as large images, so they do not need to be downloaded from the server again. [15] Cached items are usually only stored for as long as the web server stipulates in its HTTP response messages. [16]

Settings

Web browsers can typically be configured with a built-in menu. Depending on the browser, the menu may be named Settings, Options, or Preferences.

The menu has different types of settings. For example, users can change their home page and default search engine. They also can change default web page colors and fonts. Various network connectivity and privacy settings are also usually available.

Privacy

During the course of browsing, cookies received from various websites are stored by the browser. Some of them contain login credentials or site preferences. [17] However, others are used for tracking user behavior over long periods of time, so browsers typically provide settings for removing cookies when exiting the browser. [17] Finer-grained management of cookies usually requires a browser extension. [18]

Features

The most popular browsers have a number of features in common. They allow users to set bookmarks and browse in a private mode. They also can be customized with extensions, and some of them provide a sync service.

Most browsers have these user interface features:

There are also niche browsers with distinct features. One example is text-only browsers that can benefit people with slow Internet connections or those with visual impairments.

Security

Web browsers are popular targets for hackers, who exploit security holes to steal information, destroy files, and other malicious activities. Browser vendors regularly patch these security holes, so users are strongly encouraged to keep their browser software updated. Other protection measures are antivirus software and avoiding known-malicious websites. [19]

Market share

StatCounter November 2018
desktop share [20]
Google Chrome
72.4%
Mozilla Firefox
9.1%
Internet Explorer
5.4%
Safari
5.1%
Microsoft Edge
4.0%
Opera
2.2%
UC Browser
0.55%
Yandex Browser
0.39%
Cốc Cốc
0.20%
Chromium
0.15%
Sogou Explorer
0.14%
QQ browser
0.13%
Maxthon
0.08%
Mozilla Suite
0.05%
Vivaldi
0.04%
360 Secure Browser
0.02%
Naver Whale
0.02%
Pale Moon
0.02%
mCent Browser
0.02%
SeaMonkey
0.01%
Other
0.06%

See also

Related Research Articles

JavaScript, often abbreviated as JS, is a programming language that conforms to the ECMAScript specification. JavaScript is high-level, often just-in-time compiled, and multi-paradigm. It has curly-bracket syntax, dynamic typing, prototype-based object-orientation, and first-class functions.

Internet Explorer Web browser developed by Microsoft

Internet Explorer is a series of graphical web browsers developed by Microsoft and included in the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, starting in 1995. It was first released as part of the add-on package Plus! for Windows 95 that year. Later versions were available as free downloads, or in service packs, and included in the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) service releases of Windows 95 and later versions of Windows. The browser is discontinued, but still maintained.

Netscape Navigator web browser

Netscape Navigator was a proprietary web browser, and the original browser of the Netscape line, from versions 1 to 4.08, and 9.x. It was the flagship product of the Netscape Communications Corp and was the dominant web browser in terms of usage share in the 1990s, but by 2002 its use had almost disappeared. This was primarily due to the increased use of Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser software, and partly because the Netscape Corporation did not sustain Netscape Navigator's technical innovation in the late 1990s.

Netscape Communications Corporation was an independent American computer services company with headquarters in Mountain View, California and then Dulles, Virginia. Its Netscape web browser was once dominant but lost to Internet Explorer and other competitors after the so-called first browser war, its market share falling from more than 90 percent in the mid-1990s to less than 1 percent in 2006. Netscape created the JavaScript programming language, the most widely used language for client-side scripting of web pages. The company also developed SSL which was used for securing online communications before its successor TLS took over.

Gecko (software) free HTML layout engine

Gecko is a browser engine developed by Mozilla. It is used in the Firefox browser, the Thunderbird email client, and many other projects.

Firefox Free and open-source web browser by Mozilla

Mozilla Firefox, or simply Firefox, is a free and open-source web browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiary, Mozilla Corporation. Firefox uses the Gecko layout engine to render web pages, which implements current and anticipated web standards. In 2017, Firefox began incorporating new technology under the code name Quantum to promote parallelism and a more intuitive user interface. Firefox is officially available for Windows 7 or newer, macOS, and Linux. Its unofficial ports are available for various Unix and Unix-like operating systems including FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, illumos, and Solaris Unix. Firefox is also available for Android and iOS; however, the iOS version uses the WebKit layout engine instead of Gecko due to platform limitations, as with all other iOS web browsers.

Browser wars competition

A browser war is competition for dominance in the usage share of web browsers. The "First Browser War" during the late 1990s pitted Microsoft's Internet Explorer against Netscape's Navigator. Browser wars continued with the decline of Internet Explorer's market share and the popularity of other browsers including Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera.

Comparison of web browsers Wikimedia list article

The following tables compare general and technical information for a number of web browsers.

Netscape Browser

Netscape Browser is the eighth major release of the Netscape series of web browsers, now all discontinued. It was published by AOL, but developed by Mercurial Communications, and originally released for Windows on May 19, 2005.

History of Internet Explorer

Microsoft has developed eleven versions of Internet Explorer for Windows from 1995 to 2013. Microsoft has also developed Internet Explorer for Mac, Internet Explorer for UNIX and Internet Explorer Mobile respectively for Apple Macintosh, Unix and mobile devices. The first two are discontinued but the latter runs on Windows CE, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone.

Usage share of web browsers relative market adoption of web browsers

The usage share of web browsers is the proportion, often expressed as a percentage, of visitors to a group of web sites that use a particular web browser.

Mozilla Application Suite Discontinued Internet suite

The Mozilla Application Suite is a discontinued cross-platform integrated Internet suite. Its development was initiated by Netscape Communications Corporation, before their acquisition by AOL. It was based on the source code of Netscape Communicator. The development was spearheaded by the Mozilla Organization from 1998 to 2003, and by the Mozilla Foundation from 2003 to 2006. It has been superseded by SeaMonkey Internet suite, a community-driven Internet suite that is based on the same source code and continued to be developed with newer Mozilla codebase.

An HTTP cookie is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored on the user's computer by the user's web browser while the user is browsing. Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember stateful information or to record the user's browsing activity. They can also be used to remember arbitrary pieces of information that the user previously entered into form fields such as names, addresses, passwords, and credit-card numbers.

Firefox 3.0

Mozilla Firefox 3.0 is a version of the Firefox web browser released on June 17, 2008 by the Mozilla Corporation.

A web browser is a software application for retrieving, presenting and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web. It further provides for the capture or input of information which may be returned to the presenting system, then stored or processed as necessary. The method of accessing a particular page or content is achieved by entering its address, known as a Uniform Resource Identifier or URI. This may be a web page, image, video, or other piece of content. Hyperlinks present in resources enable users easily to navigate their browsers to related resources. A web browser can also be defined as an application software or program designed to enable users to access, retrieve and view documents and other resources on the Internet.

Firefox 4 version 4 of web browser Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox 4 is a version of the Firefox web browser, released on March 22, 2011. The first beta was made available on July 6, 2010; Release Candidate 2 was released on March 18, 2011. It was codenamed Tumucumaque, and was Firefox's last large release cycle. The Mozilla team planned smaller and quicker releases following other browser vendors. The primary goals for this version included improvements in performance, standards support, and user interface.

Firefox 2 2006 web browser

Mozilla Firefox 2 is a version of Firefox, a web browser released on October 24, 2006 by the Mozilla Corporation.

Browser security is the application of Internet security to web browsers in order to protect networked data and computer systems from breaches of privacy or malware. Security exploits of browsers often use JavaScript — sometimes with cross-site scripting (XSS) — sometimes with a secondary payload using Adobe Flash. Security exploits can also take advantage of vulnerabilities that are commonly exploited in all browsers.

Mozilla Free and open-source software community, developer of Firefox and Thunderbird

Mozilla is a free software community founded in 1998 by members of Netscape. The Mozilla community uses, develops, spreads and supports Mozilla products, thereby promoting exclusively free software and open standards, with only minor exceptions. The community is supported institutionally by the not-for-profit Mozilla Foundation and its tax-paying subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation.

References

  1. "What is a Browser?". Google (on YouTube). 30 April 2009. Less than 8% of people who were interviewed on this day knew what a browser was.
  2. "No-Judgment Digital Definitions: Internet, Search Engine, Browser". Mozilla. 11 October 2017. Let’s start by breaking down the differences between internet, search engine, and browser. Lots of us get these three things confused with each other.
  3. "Difference Between Search Engine and Browser".
  4. "World Internet Users Statistics and 2019 World Population Stats". www.internetworldstats.com. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  5. "StatCounter Global Stats". StatCounter. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  6. "Tim Berners-Lee: WorldWideWeb, the first Web client". W3.org. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  7. Gillies, James; Cailliau, R. (2000). How the Web was Born: The Story of the World Wide Web . Oxford University Press. pp.  6. ISBN   0192862073.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. 1 2 "Bloomberg Game Changers: Marc Andreessen". Bloomberg. 17 March 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  9. Enzer, Larry (31 August 2018). "The Evolution of the Web Browsers". Monmouth Web Developers. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  10. "Mozilla Firefox Internet Browser Market Share Gains to 7.4%". Search Engine Journal. 24 November 2004. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  11. Stewart, William. "Web Browser History" . Retrieved 5 May 2009.
  12. 1 2 "StatCounter Global Stats – Browser, OS, Search Engine including Mobile Usage Share" . Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  13. "Internet Explorer usage to plummet below 50 percent by mid-2012". 3 September 2011. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  14. "StatCounter Global Stats – Browser, OS, Search Engine including Mobile Usage Share" . Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  15. "Definition of browser cache". PCmag. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  16. Fountis, Yorgos. "How does the browser cache work?" . Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  17. 1 2 "Tracking Cookies: What They Are, and How They Threaten Your Privacy". Tom's Guide. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  18. "Alternatives to Cookie AutoDelete extension". AlternativeTo. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  19. "Securing Your Web Browser". www.us-cert.gov. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
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