Saturday, December 22, 2007

Be Different: Alternative Browser Choices

I don't really mind using Internet Explorer 7.  It seems pretty fast and more secure against drive-by malware hijacking.

The interface is still a bit hard to get used to after all those years of previously using IE 5.0 and IE 6.0.  But the design is pleasing.

Still, there are just so many great alternative web-browsers for Windows out there, it is hard to remain faithful to the Big Blue E.

Firefox Offerings

Mozilla's Firefox web-browser remains my favorite web browser.  It powers about 98% of my daily work and play web-surfing expeditions.  It remains fast (though memory hungry) and pretty secure against web-based malware attacks.  What sets Firefox apart for me is being able to freely and quickly customize the elements I need to enhance it to my way of working, surfing, and exploring the Internet: Firefox Add-ons.

Firefox web browser - (freeware) - The main download page. Great place to get started with the latest release version (v.

Firefox 3 Beta 2 - (freeware) - The next face of Firefox.  It looks very pretty indeed.

Mozilla Nightly Builds - (freeware) - Also known as Minefield.  These are the cutting-edge released of Firefox 3. They are updated nightly, hence the name, but also may contain additional bugs, broken features, and other dangerous things.  Use at your own risk.

Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition - (freeware) - Portable version of Firefox that can run off a USB stick.  Still supports add-ons and personalization...just take it with you.

Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition 3 Beta 2 - (freeware) - Portable version of Firefox that you can run off a USB stick...except this one is the latest public beta release version of Firefox.  Using this version allows you to safely trial-run the Firefox 3 beta, without impacting your installed and stable version 2.0.  Handy.

xB Browser - (freeware) - Previously known as TorPark, xB "XeroBank" browser is the latest stable release version of Firefox, but custom-packaged to be wrapped in the Tor anonymizing system.  Hence you are able to browse the web without using your actual IP address.  Though TOR does have some known weaknesses from a security standpoint, it is a good alternative for anonymous web surfing, firewall bypassing, and website censorship.  Because it requires no configurations, it is great to use out of the box..and the Firefox interface is very familiar to fans.  The free version works fine, but slowly.  You can pay for a version that uses XeroBank's servers directly to increase your anonymous surfing speed.

DemocraKey - (freeware) - Another portable firefox package that includes anonymous web surfing.  This one comes with Firefox, Clamwin (A/v), and Thunderbird. It has a nice Portable Apps launcher as well bundled with it.  A very nice and integrated solution.

A Night at the Opera

I used Opera for about a one-year stretch between leaving Netscape Navigator and finding Firefox in my early surfing years.  It is a small, fast and very customizable browser.  It has a very hard-core fan following and if Mozilla were to go belly-up and I had to find an alternative, Opera would be it, hands-down.  Highly refined and highly polished.  It's fun to use and very fast.

Opera browser - (freeware) - I always install this, just so I have a backup alternative web-browser in case something tanks with my Firefox builds.

Opera@USB - (freeware) - Of course there is a USB portable version of Opera.

OperaTor - (freeware) - Opera + Tor = Portable, secure and anonymous Opera web surfing.

In the K-Meleon Patch

What is K-Meleon? Isn't it just another form of Firefox but wrapped in an open-source (GNU) license?  No and yes.  K-Meleon does use the same Gecko rendering engine for web-pages, but the developers have wrapped their own hard-work around the interface and functions. The result is a well-mannered web-browser that remains very fast and very light.  It actually uses the native Windows API to more tightly integrate into the Windows desktop experience.

K-Meleon - (freeware) - Use IE's bookmarks, Firefox's bookmarks, Opera's Hotlist or create your own, layered (tabbed) browsing, Mouse-Gestures support, fully customizable interface, pop-up blocking, almost instant launching, web-search area in tool-bar, themeable, and supports macros and popular plug-ins like Java, Flash and RealPlayer.

K-MeleonCCF ME - (freeware) - An interesting derivative version of K-Meleon by Hao Jiang and Dorian Boissonnade.  Using an experimental (beta) version of the k-meleon.exe file, it supports a "true" tab-structure and rewritten macros.  The ME (minimum edition) version is even smaller, uses fewer system resources, and faster. Well worth considering if your Windows system is an antique, has very little RAM or you just want something blazingly fast, but not as feature-rich.  It takes up just 20-30 MB RAM running on my system.  Beats the 150-200 MB RAM Firefox 2.0 is taking.

Pocket K-Meleon 1.1.2 - (freeware) - Yep.  A USB portable version of K-Meleon.  Take the green-beast with you on the road.  By the way, the layout on this page is a bit confusing.  The download links are on the left side under "Charger/Load".  The Sourceforge links to the project are the ones on the right.

Apple's Safari Browser for Windows

Still a beta release, I'm just not sure what to make of it. People who love the interface are probably Apple users and thus, already have Safari for Mac.  Unless maybe they have to use Windows at work and have it just because they want to express their pro-Mac stance.  Unless maybe you are an iTunes lover as well and just like things matching.  The page-rendering is nice in has a certain look it it.  I don't know why but I always feel like the pages are being displayed with a soft-focus lens effect (not saying their not sharp).  It's just a bit more pleasing.  However, despite the performance graphics plastered on Apple's Safari website, my experience (all my Vista/XP systems) is that it launches dog-slow, and pulls pages pretty slow as well.  It is much, much, much slower than ANY browser I have on my systems.  Even after a fresh XP install.

Jury is still out on this one.  Nice...I'll leave it installed for a conversational and Apple-rendering test engine for my blog-page...but not for daily consumption IMHO.

Apple - Safari 3 Public Beta - (freeware) - Looks nice, brags big...underwhelming performance. Limited customization.

The Small One - Off by One

I'm sure that if I dug, I could find a smaller, yet functional web browser than Off by One.  But it would be hard to do.  How big is it?  Try just over 2 MB. Period. And that's the version that supports SSL connections.  Download it, unpack it (or use the exe based setup version), run it. It is old-school.  No address-bar here.  Just click the "URL" icon, enter the address and go.  Very, very fast as it dispenses with almost all the fluff of modern browsers.  You still can set a home-page, set favorites, browse forward and back in the history, adjust text sizing, search in a page, and monitor cookies. Memory usage?  Just over 11 MB on my systems.

Off By One Web Browser - (freeware) - There might be smaller browsers...but why bother?  Very full-featured. I always keep this one on my systems and USB stick for a last-ditch browser when malware has destroyed all other known browsers.  As long as your LSP settings haven't been tanked, this can get you out of most binds.

Wrapped-up Browsers

There is one last category of web-browsers that I personally steer away from: browser wrappers.  These are third-party applications that extend or customize a browser (almost always Internet Explorer) by wrapping it in their own interface and application support. Some just use the IE rendering engine, others do much, much more.  There are so many good alternative browsers that I previously mentioned, that I don't see much purpose in them.  However, I know (and don't want to offend) the fans of these programs.  If they float your browsing-boat, more power to you, literally!

Note: These applications may or may not be compatible with IE 7.  They are all freeware, but examine carefully before deciding to use to ensure compatibility with your system/IE version.

Maxthon Browser - Tabbed Internet browser software

Avant Browser - a tabbed browser with Flash Filter, Popup Blocker, Cleaner and Web Search

Foxie - Complete Privacy, Security and Productivity Suite

GreenBrowser - Green Multi Window Web Browser For You

Crazy Browser - Enhance your Web browsing experience with this tabbed web browser!

AM Browser - Enhance your Web browsing experience with this tabbed web browser!

AcooBrowser - tabbed web browser, Internet Browser, Ad Filter, popup blocker, privacy cleaner, mouse gestures

Slim Browser - Tabbed web browser with popup killer

Sleipnir - ...a browser used every day (Japanese software product)

E2 - an easy-to-use, tightly integrated Internet Browser with a built-in Collection Tool that lets you browse the web, view and collect any thing that interests you

NetWorker - NetWorker is a free multiple window web browser. It uses Internet Explorer or Netscape (Mozilla) as render engine and extends their functionalities.

Browzar (beta) - Claims to offer anonymous web browsing for Internet Explorer. Previously examined on Grand Stream Dreams.

Choose Wisely!


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