The world of technology might have changed by leaps and bounds, but what has stubbornly refused to transform is our primary source to the Web. Yes, we do have more apps and widgets than before, but almost all folks still launch their Web browsers when they want to go surfing online. All computers come with some sort of Web browser pre-installed—Internet Explorer on Windows machines and Safari on those running the Mac OS—and most users stick to using them.

Considering that Internet Explorer, Opera and Firefox all just updated their browsers, with the latest Firefox beta coming out last week, there are a lot of options now available that can make a significant difference to users’ Web experiences.

Switching to the latest and best browsers is both free and easy, and can be done online, so it’s time to use your old browser to get to a new one.

Internet Explorer 9

Update your browser: There a lot of options available that can make a significant difference to users’ Web experiences. Imaging: Raajan/Mint

Pros: Much faster than its previous versions. Clean interface. Innovative new features such as pinning and Web slices—you can “paste" any website to your Windows homescreen, and get live updates without having to launch the browser.

Cons: It only runs on Windows 7 and Windows Vista. Internet Explorer also tends to be targeted the most by hackers.

Download it at:

Mozilla Firefox 8

The rallying browser of all those who are against IE, Firefox is one of the most popular Web browsers in the world. It shares IE’s simple interface but brings a whole lot more functionality in the form of add-ons. These let you do a lot of things, from checking social network updates to getting news to taking screenshots, right from the browser. With the right amount of customization, the browser could easily become the only software you need to run on your computer.

Pros: Firefox is extremely stable, and depending on the kind of content on the page, can be the fastest at loading pages. The add-ons are free, easy to find and install—there’s a button in the browser to help you do that—with in-depth explanations of how each one functions.

Cons: Keeping Firefox fully updated can be tedious, particularly because each update usually makes a number of add-ons temporarily not compatible. You have to reset each of these when new versions come.

Download it at:

Google Chrome 1

Google added a whole new dimension to browsing when it introduced the Chrome browser a few years ago. It wiped out cluttered interfaces and added tremendous speed to surfing. Currently into its 15th version, it may not stand out from the competition as much as it did when it started out, but it remains the fastest performer. For the tweakers it offers extensions similar to Firefox’s add-ons, although these are not always as powerful. There are neat touches like Chrome Instant Page, which actually preloads Web pages even as you are typing out their URLs (it tries to guess which site you are likely to go to), and it comes with support for Flash and PDF built in—no extra downloads for them.

Pros: Simple interface, fast browsing and tiny size that make it quick and easy to install and update.

Cons: Extensions can be prone to the odd crash; also, some of the advanced features don’t always work with popular sites, including Facebook.

Download it at:

Opera 11.5

It might not be making headlines like IE and Chrome, but Opera is one of the most innovative browsers around. It was the first browser to come out with tabbed browsing and with speed dial, where you could group all the websites you visited frequently on the launch screen of the browser. One of the latest innovations is the Turbo browsing feature, which lets you surf the Web at brisk rates even on slow connections, using a special compression technology (it murders images but works just fine for text). It also has an inbuilt email client, notes application and even a BitTorrent client. You also get access to extensions that add functionalities to the browser, although it does not really give Chrome and Firefox a run for their money there.

Pros: It’s good for slow connections, and comes with many useful features built in so you don’t need to find and install add-ons.

Cons: Turbo is not supported by all websites yet.

Download it at:

Safari 5.1.1

Once the preserve of geeks with Macs, Safari got into mainstream computer territory a few years ago and has been attracting a fair following since. As in all things Apple, Safari scores heavily on its presentation. The Reading List feature lets you save pages for reading later on and presents them in a very classy manner. The same goes for Cover Flow, which displays your bookmarks and browsing history in the form of a flippable list of images, rather than a boring list. Yes, there are extensions here too. And while most of them do not better those from Chrome and Firefox’s add-ons in terms of performance, they look a whole lot better. And seem to work more smoothly. The browser itself works steadily, although it’s not as fast as Chrome.

Pros: Typical Apple style.

Cons: Not as fast as Chrome; not as customizable as Firefox.

Download it at:

Imaging by Raajan/Mint

Write to us at