Alcides Fonseca

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The Monopoly in Browsers

I remember the dark old times where IE6 was the default browser everywhere. Because of that dominance, developers focused solely on the IE substandard of JS/ActiveX/JavaApplet, leaving Linux and Mac users behind. Not long ago, you were required IE to submit your taxes. That has changed: Now you are required Chrome or Edge. As a Safari user, I find myself having to have an installed Chrome to access unsupported websites.

This week, MS announced they would be dropping their own rendered (EdgeHTML, a fork of Trident) on their current browser Edge and they will be using Chrome’s Blink (itself a fork of Webkit). So now the major browsers are:

  • Edge (Webkit/Blink)
  • Chrome (Webkit/Blink)
  • Firefox (Quantum Render, replacing Gecko)
  • Safari (Webkit)

Except for the tiny differences between vanilla Webkit and Blink, almost all the web uses the same renderer. This is the same monopoly Trident (IE5/6) had more than 10 years ago! And the sole fighter for a diverse web is the same browser and team that fought then: Mozilla Firefox! And this is not by chance: Mozilla’s Foundation is all about diversity and open standards. Just check their funded research projects to see that they put their money where their mouth is.

If it weren’t for Firefox, I believe Chrome would never had the success it had. Now Chrome’s the one that’s monopolising the web, and we need Firefox to be an alternative that will allow the NextBrowser™ to replace Chrome in 10 years.

I’ve been using Firefox as my main browser for a while now, and I can heartily recommend it. You should try it (and maybe talk to your relatives about it at Christmas). At this point, which browser you use no longer feels like it’s just about personal choice—it feels part of something bigger; it’s about the shape of the web we want.

Jeremy Keith