What is an internet browser?
Web browser: what is a web browser?
Definition of a web browser
An Internet browser is software that is a graphic interface between a human being and the Internet: it allows you to consult websites.
Photo Lisa Fotios in Pexels
The browser connects to the websites, downloads the elements of the website (text, images, sounds, videos, etc... ) and displays them on the screen.
Thanks to webmails, the browser also allows the user to consult, manage, send and receive e-mail. In the context of SaaS software, even now it is possible to run the software through the browser.
There are many web browsers (Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera etc ... ) for different operating systems (Windows, Linux, Mac OS, iOS, Android), in different digital media (computers, smartphones, tablets, game consoles etc ...).
Special feature of web browsers: they are free software! All you have to do is go to the browser's website (the links are a little further down in this article). Then download, install and use it for free.
Brief history of web browsers
Web browsers, of course, have evolved a lot since the creation of the web.
The first browser is created by the inventor of the web in 1990, Tim Berners-Lee, and is called WorldWideWeb.
In 1993, the NCSA Mosaic became the first browser to display interactive images and forms on Web pages.
The year 1995 marks an important milestone in the history of web browsers with the launch of Internet Explorer 1 by Microsoft and sees the domain of Netscape Navigator created by Marc Andreessen, a former developer of Mosaic.
The French term "navigateur" was inspired by Netscape Navigator.
From the 2000s, Internet Explorer became the most widely used web browser thanks to its default installation on Windows operating systems (the operating systems most used by the general public and businesses) at the expense of Netscape Navigator.
Even today, Microsoft is still trying to impose its browser (Microsoft Edge) on Windows 10 users. But it is relatively simple to change the default browser of Windows 10.
Even if Microsoft takes advantage of regular updates to your operating system to restore Edge as the default browser.
The rise of Mozilla Firefox in the second half of the 2000's and the development of Google Chrome in early 2010 will cause Internet Explorer to lose its title as the most used Internet browser.
The main web browsers
Web browsers have evolved a lot since their inception, both in terms of interface and functionality. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the main browsers used on computers, smart phones and tablets.
Web browser developed by Google since 2008, it is currently the most used browser in the world following an innovative policy (permanent update that facilitates in particular the security of the browser).
Its performance and use on almost all platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS). One of Google's star products, it is now the most widely used browser in the world.
Official Google Chrome website
Mozilla Firefox was briefly the most used browser in Europe at the beginning of 2010 ahead of Internet Explorer.
It is present in all major operating systems (LINUX/UNIX, Mac OS X, Android), smartphones and Android tablets; it is currently absent in iOS and Windows Mobile.
Mozilla Firefox is a free, open source, privacy-aware web browser.
Official website of Mozilla Firefox
Microsoft Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer is the web browser developed by Microsoft and installed by default by Windows.
Internet Explorer, the most widely used browser for a long time from the late 1990s to early 2010. Saw its market share plummet in favor of Firefox and Chrome.
It suffers from a bad reputation due in particular to its longstanding failure to respect the rules of the web (Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 7 in particular were the nightmare of the web developers) and its security flaws.
This web browser is destined to disappear with the launch of Microsoft Edge, the latest browser released by Microsoft.
Official website of the Internet Explorer browser
A web browser developed by Apple to compete with Internet Explorer. It is installed by default on MacOS X as well as iOS (iPad, iPhone) but is also available for Windows. Some people swear by it, others hate it, like Apple products in general.
Official website of the Safari browser
Opera has been developed by the Norwegian company Opera Software since the 1990s.
However, it is used relatively little (less than 10% of the browsers' market share).
Compared to the big names like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer or Apple Safari, but it is present on most platforms (smartphones and tablets of Windows, Linux, MacOS, Android and iOS, but also on Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii or Nintendo WiiU game consoles).
Official website of the Opera browser
Microsoft Edge is the latest Microsoft program to replace Internet Explorer in the coming years.
Launched in January 2015, it was originally called Spartan and is intended to be a universal application that runs on PCs, tablets and smartphones.
Microsoft Edge Browser Official Site
Which web browser should I choose for my computer?
My choice for surfing the web from a computer: Mozilla Firefox
Why Mozilla Firefox?
I use Firefox because it is a free, open source browser developed by thousands of volunteers. It's respectful of privacy (which is often blamed on Google Chrome and Google in general) and is a browser that has long respected the rules of the web.
Which web browser should I choose for my Android smartphone or iPhone?
My choice of browsing the web from a smartphone: Opera Mini
Why Opera Mini?
Opera Mini is a secure, data-friendly and powerful browser for your smartphone.
Its biggest advantage: it consumes little mobile data (which is particularly interesting when travelling abroad). In fact, Opera Mini can save up to 90% of the data consumed thanks to the compression of images by the web browser!
Why can't I access a website with my browser?
Sometimes, you may not be able to access a website (especially those hosting videos such as Youtube, Netflix or even social networks such as Facebook or Twitter).
Site blocking can be caused by the will of the computer administrator (in the case of a company or within a school, it is not uncommon for certain websites to be blocked).
It can also be caused by the site editor (in the case of certain videos that can only be viewed from certain countries based on the computer's IP address).
Last case: blocking of a site by the authorities (the case of China, for example, which blocks access to Google and many Western sites).
As the above website shows, there are many techniques and tricks to unlock a website: Use a VPN, a proxy or a TOR!
Some additional articles about browsers and their use
We use this program every day to navigate the web, so here is a list of some tutorials from the Tips and Help site that are intended to simplify your life in using your browser.
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