Web browser

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A web browser displaying a web page Chromium (web browser).png
A web browser displaying a web page

A web browser (also referred to as an Internet browser or simply a browser) is application software for accessing the World Wide Web or a local website. When a user requests a web page from a particular website, the web browser retrieves the necessary content from a web server and then displays the 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] A search engine is a website that provides links to 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 2020, an estimated 4.9 billion people used a browser. [4] The most used browser is Google Chrome, with a 63% global market share on all devices, followed by Safari with 20%. [5]

Function

The purpose of a web browser is to fetch content from the Web or from a local storage device and display it 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 secure mode (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. [6] Cached items are usually only stored for as long as the web server stipulates in its HTTP response messages. [7]

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. [8] However, others are used for tracking user behavior over long periods of time, so browsers typically provide a section in the menu for deleting cookies. [8] Finer-grained management of cookies usually requires a browser extension. [9]

Browsers also usually provide menu items for deleting browsing history, cache entries, and other potentially sensitive data.

An alternative approach is the private browsing mode, in which the aforementioned items are not stored by the browser. But this is a temporary option, only activated when using this special mode.

Features

The most popular browsers have a number of features in common. They automatically log browsing history or can be used in a non-logging private mode. They also allow users to set bookmarks, customize the browser with extensions, and can manage user passwords. [10] Some provide a sync service and web accessibility features.

Traditional browser arrangement: UI features above page content Wikipedia Homepage Chromium Web browser 36.png
Traditional browser arrangement: UI features above page content

Most browsers have these user interface (UI) features:

While mobile browsers have similar UI features as desktop versions, the limitations of touchscreens require mobile UIs to be simpler. [11] The difference is significant for users accustomed to keyboard shortcuts. [12] The most popular desktop browsers also have sophisticated web development tools.

Besides the common usage of graphical browsers, there are niche text-based and headless types of browsers.

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. [13]

History

Nicola Pellow and Tim Berners-Lee in 1992 NPellow.jpg
Nicola Pellow and Tim Berners-Lee in 1992

The first web browser, called WorldWideWeb, was created in 1990 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. [14] [15] He then recruited Nicola Pellow to write the Line Mode Browser, which displayed web pages on dumb terminals. [16]

Marc Andreessen, lead developer of Mosaic and Navigator, in 2007 Marc Andreessen.jpg
Marc Andreessen, lead developer of Mosaic and Navigator, in 2007

1993 was a landmark year with the release of Mosaic, credited as "the world's first popular browser". [17] Its innovative graphical user 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. [17] 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. [18]

Microsoft debuted Internet Explorer in 1995, leading to a browser war with Netscape. Within a few years, Microsoft gained a dominant position in the browser market for two reasons: it bundled Internet Explorer with its popular Windows operating system and did so as freeware with no restrictions on usage. The market share of Internet Explorer peaked at over 95% in the early 2000s. [19]

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 the Firefox browser, first released by Mozilla in 2004. Firefox market share peaked at 32% in 2010. [20]

Apple released its Safari browser in 2003. Safari remains the dominant browser on Apple devices, though it did not become popular elsewhere. [21]

Google debuted its Chrome browser in 2008, which steadily took market share from Internet Explorer and became the most popular browser in 2012. [22] [23] Chrome has remained dominant ever since.

Microsoft released its Edge browser in 2015 as part of the Windows 10 release. (Internet Explorer is still used on older versions of Windows. [24] )

Since the early 2000s, browsers have greatly expanded their HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and multimedia capabilities. One reason has been to enable more sophisticated websites, such as web apps. Another factor is the significant increase of broadband connectivity, which enables people to access data-intensive content, such as YouTube streaming, that was not possible during the era of dial-up modems.

Market share

October 2021 desktop browser share [25]
Google Chrome
72.96%
Microsoft Edge
12.61%
Mozilla Firefox
5.54%
Safari
2.72%
Internet Explorer
2.45%
Yandex Browser
1.08%
Opera
1.01%

See also

Related Research Articles

Internet Explorer Web browser developed by Microsoft

Internet Explorer is a discontinued 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. New feature development for the browser was discontinued in 2016 in favor of new browser Microsoft Edge. Since Internet Explorer is a Windows component and is included in long-term lifecycle versions of Windows such as Windows Server 2019, it will continue to receive security updates until at least 2029. Microsoft 365 ended support for Internet Explorer on August 17, 2021, and Microsoft Teams ended support for IE on November 30, 2020. Internet Explorer is set for discontinuation on June 15, 2022, after which the alternative will be Microsoft Edge with IE mode for legacy sites.

Netscape Communications Corporation was an American independent 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 in the so-called first browser war, with its market share falling from more than 90 percent in the mid-1990s to less than 1 percent in 2006. An early Netscape employee Brendan Eich created the JavaScript programming language, the most widely used language for client-side scripting of web pages and a founding engineer of Netscape Lou Montulli created HTTP cookies. The company also developed SSL which was used for securing online communications before its successor TLS took over.

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, the Mozilla Corporation. It uses the Gecko rendering engine to display 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 available for Windows 7 and later versions, macOS, and Linux. Its unofficial ports are available for various Unix and Unix-like operating systems, including FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, illumos, and Solaris Unix. It is also available for Android and iOS. However, the iOS version uses the WebKit layout engine instead of Gecko due to platform requirements, as with all other iOS web browsers. An optimized version is also available on the Amazon Fire TV, as one of the two main browsers available with Amazon's Silk Browser.

Avant Browser Freeware web browser created by Che

Avant Browser is a freeware web browser from a Chinese programmer named Anderson Che, which unites the Trident layout engine built into Windows with an interface intended to be more feature-rich, flexible and ergonomic than Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE). It runs on Windows 2000 and above, including Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. Internet Explorer versions 6 through 11 are supported.

Browser wars Competition between web browsing applications for share of worldwide usage

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, Microsoft Edge and Opera.

Comparison of web browsers Wikimedia list article

The following tables compare general and technical information for a number of web browsers. For further references, a browser support matrix is a table of support of a Webpage by browsers.

about is an internal URI scheme implemented in various Web browsers to reveal internal state and built-in functions. It is an IANA officially registered scheme, and is standardized.

Mozilla Firefox has features that allow it to be distinguished from other web browsers, such as Chrome and Internet Explorer.

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.

History of the World Wide Web Information system running in the Internet

The World Wide Web is a global information medium which users can access via computers connected to the Internet. The term is often mistakenly used as a synonym for the Internet, but the Web is a service that operates over the Internet, just as email and Usenet do. The history of the Internet and the history of hypertext date back significantly farther than that of the World Wide Web.

HTTP cookie Small pieces of data stored by a web browser while on a website

HTTP cookies are small blocks of data created by a web server while a user is browsing a website and placed on the user's computer or other device by the user's web browser. Cookies are placed on the device used to access a website, and more than one cookie may be placed on a user's device during a session.

Features of the Opera web browser List of software application features

This article details features of the Opera web browser.

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.

Site-specific browser Software application for browsing a particular website

A site-specific browser (SSB) is a software application that is dedicated to accessing pages from a single source (site) on a computer network such as the Internet or a private intranet. SSBs typically simplify the more complex functions of a web browser by excluding the menus, toolbars and browser chrome associated with functions that are external to the workings of a single site. These applications are typically started by a desktop icon which is usually a favicon.

Google Chrome Web browser developed by Google

Google Chrome is a cross-platform web browser developed by Google. It was first released in 2008 for Microsoft Windows, built with free software components from Apple WebKit and Mozilla Firefox. It was later ported to Linux, macOS, iOS, and Android, where it is the default browser. The browser is also the main component of Chrome OS, where it serves as the platform for web applications.

Private browsing Privacy feature in some web browsers

Private browsing is a privacy feature in some web browsers. When operating in such a mode, the browser creates a temporary session that is isolated from the browser's main session and user data. Browsing history is not saved, and local data associated with the session, such as Cookies, Web cache, are cleared when the session is closed. These modes are designed primarily to prevent data and history associated with a particular browsing session from persisting on the device, or being discovered by another user of the same device.

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) with a secondary payload using Adobe Flash. Security exploits can also take advantage of vulnerabilities that are commonly exploited in all browsers.

Microsoft Edge Web browser developed by Microsoft

Microsoft Edge is a cross-platform web browser created and developed by Microsoft. It was first released for Windows 10 and Xbox One in 2015, for Android and iOS in 2017, for macOS in 2019, and for Linux in 2020, and can replace Internet Explorer on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and later versions but unlike IE, this browser does not support Windows Vista or earlier versions.

Blisk (browser) Chromium -based web browser

Blisk is a freemium Chromium-based web browser that aims to improve productivity and code quality by providing a wide array of tools for Web development and testing for different type of devices: desktop, tablet and mobile.

References

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  2. "What is the difference between the internet, browsers, search engines and websites?". Mozilla. 17 June 2021. Let’s start by breaking down the differences between the internet, browsers, search engine, and websites. Lots of us get these four things confused with each other.
  3. "Difference Between Search Engine and Browser".
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  6. "Definition of browser cache". PC Magazine.
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  8. 1 2 "Tracking Cookies: What They Are, and How They Threaten Your Privacy". Tom's Guide. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  9. "Alternatives to Cookie AutoDelete extension". AlternativeTo. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  10. Balaban, David (17 February 2021). "Password Manager Comparison: Top Password Managers for 2021". eWEEK. Retrieved 4 November 2021.
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  12. "Chrome keyboard shortcuts". Google Inc. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  13. "Securing Your Web Browser". www.us-cert.gov. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  14. "Tim Berners-Lee: WorldWideWeb, the first Web client". World Wide Web Consortium.
  15. Stewart, William. "Web Browser History". Archived from the original on 20 January 2011.
  16. Gillies, James; Cailliau, R. (2000). How the Web was Born: The Story of the World Wide Web . Oxford University Press. pp.  6. ISBN   0192862073.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  17. 1 2 "Bloomberg Game Changers: Marc Andreessen". Bloomberg. 17 March 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  18. Enzer, Larry (31 August 2018). "The Evolution of the Web Browsers". Monmouth Web Developers. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  19. Baker, Loren (24 November 2004). "Mozilla Firefox Internet Browser Market Share Gains to 7.4%". Search Engine Journal.
  20. Routley, Nick (20 January 2020). "Internet Browser Market Share (1996–2019)". Visual Capitalist. Retrieved 4 November 2021.
  21. "StatCounter August 2011 data" . Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  22. "Internet Explorer usage to plummet below 50 percent by mid-2012" (JPEG). Digital Trends . 3 September 2011.
  23. "StatCounter April-May 2012 data" . Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  24. Blog, Windows Experience (19 May 2021). "The future of Internet Explorer on Windows 10 is in Microsoft Edge". Windows Experience Blog. Retrieved 4 November 2021.
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