Story by: Colophon Editor
July 6, 2007

As we learned in the previous article “Understanding Web Sites”, the World Wide Web operates on a client/server model. In order to access Web pages, you run a client software know as a “Web browser” on your computer. Current web browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Opera are among the most popular. There are dozens of other “Open Source” client browsers that have been developed most through initiative from Netscape.

Since their appearance in the early days of the web, browsers have become increasingly sophisticated. They have become full software units that can run video-conferences, allow users to publish web pages, chat via instant messaging and even make Internet phone calls.

There is intense competition in the web browser market. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6.0 is currently the most used browser in the World. Part of it’s success stems from the fact that the browser was included when someone bought a computer running the Microsoft operating system (OS) Windows. Bundling their own browser with their OS got Microsoft in some legal hot water. Competitors claimed the strategy stifled competition by creating a sort of software monopoly.

Despite its long reign as king of the browsers, Explorer is rapidly losing market share to FireFox, developed by the Mozilla people. This is due in large part to Web security concerns. Malicious software like viruses is most often written for Windows-based software like Explorer. So outlaw programmers who choose to be destructive to the greatest number of computers write their viruses to attack Explorer. This leaves other browsers like FireFox, or MAC browsers like Safari looking to safer network administrators who decide what software their companies will use. Aside from security though, not all browsers work the same way. Some web pages will display properly in one client and not in others. The differences, however, are diminished by good web developers who build sites that are tested across multiple platforms.

Both Microsoft and Netscape have worked to make their browsers the easiest to use and most productive for business. There have been entire software suites developed for browser software that allow conferencing, audio interaction, web mail management, translation tools and whiteboard applications, that allow people in different locations to contribute to the same project.

These enhancements are changing the way we live and do business. They have the potential to connect disparate groups and help us communicate more effectively.

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