It’s always interesting to me to see what browsers people use. Increasingly I’m surprised by how many non-tech savvy people I notice not using Internet Explorer, something that was rare even a few years ago. First Firefox and now Chrome have done a great job of pushing the idea that not every browser is the same. Just the simple fact that Google hits you with Chrome ads every time you visit Google to do a search or YouTube to watch a video has led to widespread awareness of the fact that there are other options out there than what came bundled with your OS.
Our analytics show this too – our sites tend to mimic the browser reports on w3Schools – Firefox is our users the primary browser, IE8 is #2 and losing market share fast to Chrome, IE6 and IE7 are (thankfully) dying off, and of course there has been a noticeable influx of mobile browsers. I remember a time not that long ago when it was IE6 on Windows XP and then everyone else. Certainly not the case any more!
I’ve personally settled into a nice little routine for my browsers. For testing purposes, I’ve got the latest of everything from IE9 Platform Preview right down to Opera. But for everyday use, I use the following:
- Firefox – all work and all web development. It’s all about the add-ons, particularly Firebug (I have a full list of the add-ons that I use in my Web Design & Development for Business essay, updated today to add a few new ones). Until something comes close to Firebug and the like – and there are a lot of ok products in the other browsers – I’m sticking with Firefox as my main development browser. I can’t even comprehend how many hours of debugging Firebug has saved me.
- Chrome – all of my personal browsing. I have it open up with my most used tabs – LockerPulse, Twitter, Google Reader, and my fantasy football page. It’s just so fast. I love the minimalist interface. I love the way it auto-updates. I love the way it uses Webkit and supports the latest and greatest (side note: wouldn’t the internet be a better place if every browser just used Webkit as their rendering engine? Would save us developers so much time, and saved time = better products)
- Internet Explorer – banking sites. Some just don’t work correctly (or at all) in the other browsers. Kind of lame. I often wonder what people on Mac or Linux machines do when this happens…
I find that by having completely separate work and personal browsers I’m better able to compartmentalize my online life. When I’m working, Chrome is only open if I need to test something. Similarly, when I’m not working I only open Firefox is I need to jot down a quick work-related note in my task list or a Google Doc. It’s also nice to always be logged in to my personal Google account on Chrome (the one I use for Google Reader and to sync with my Android phone) while our business one (for Analytics, AdWords, AdSense, etc) and our Google Apps one (Gmail, Docs, Sites, etc) are always signed in on Firefox.
What about you – what is your browser of choice and why? Are you like me in that you use multiple browsers on a daily basis? If you’re a developer, is there something you like better than Firefox? If you’re not a developer, do you download and try different browsers or do you just stick with what you’ve got?