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A web browser is an application program that provides us a way to look at and interact with all the information on the World Wide Web. The word "browser" seems to have originated prior to the Web as a generic term for user interfaces that let you browse (navigate through and read) text files online. By the time the first web browser with a graphical user interface was generally available (Mosaic, in 1993), the term seemed to apply to web content too. Technically, a web browser is a client program that uses the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to make requests of web servers throughout the Internet on behalf of the browser user. Many of the user interface features in Mosaic, however, went into the first widely-used browser, Netscape Navigator. Microsoft followed with its Microsoft Internet Explorer. Today, these two browsers are the only two browsers that the vast majority of Internet users are aware of. However, there exist many alternatives with various features to these two browsers from which the Internet users can benefit.

Here is a list of some available browsers and their development status from which the Internet users can benefit. The browsers are listed in an alphabetical order and Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer are included in the list. If you are interested in, please follow the given links for detailed information about these browsers.

AOL AOL

AOL makes several independent browsers. Most of these browsers are criticized for using a heavily modified version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Gecko. An AOL account is required to use its browser.

  • AOL 4: AOL still offers this for Windows 3.1.
  • AOL 5: AOL still offers this for Windows NT4 and the Mac OS.
  • AOL 6: Obsolete, but may be used by some.
  • AOL 7 // Windows: AOL still offers this for Windows 95. Windows 98, SE, 2000, and XP users are encouraged to upgrade to AOL 8.
  • AOL 8 // Windows: This was officially released in October of 2002. It continues to use IE, distressing many designers who had hoped that it would instead use Gecko.
  • AOL 9 // Windows: AOL offers a public beta of its next generation browser suite, dubbed AOL Optimized.
  • AOL 10.3 // Mac OS X: This was released in Aug 2002, and updated in Apr 2003. The version number in userAgent is 7, but AOL says that it has no version number, that it is just "AOL for Mac OS X Refresh".

AOL-Compuserve AOL-Compuserve

AOL acquired Compuserve years ago, and provides this browser for its CompuServe subscribers. Versions up to 6 use Internet Explorer as its browser engine; later versions use Gecko. A CompuServe account is required to use its browser.

  • CompuServe 2: AOL still offers 2.6.1 for Windows 3.1.
  • CompuServe 4: AOL still offers this for Windows NT4.
  • CompuServe 5: AOL still offers this for the Mac.
  • CompuServe 6: AOL offers this for Windows 95, 98, ME, and XP.
  • CompuServe 7: AOL offers this for Windows 98, ME, 2000, and XP.

AOL-Netscape AOL-Netscape

AOL acquired Netscape several years ago.

  • AOL's Netscape 4: AOL appears to have dropped support for Netscape 4, which is used by a diminishing number of people.
  • AOL's Netscape 5: Development was cancelled in mid-1999, and Netscape 5 was never released. It was to have been built using the NN4 core, but AOL dropped it to focus on NN6.
  • AOL's Netscape 6: AOL released it in Nov 2000, using a Gecko beta engine. It was updated several times, but never used a released Gecko engine, so it had compatibility and reliability problems that hindered its widespread use. In the meanwhile AOL continued to offer and update Netscape 4.xx. Anyone using it should upgrade to version 7, as version 6 uses an old prerelease of Gecko with many bugs and limitations.
  • AOL's Netscape 7: AOL released it on Aug 29, 2002, using the Gecko 1.0.1 engine, and has been updated several times since.

Apple Apple Safari

Safari is an OS X browser using a variant of Konqueror's KHTML browser engine.

Apple reportedly chose to base Safari on KHTML rather than on Gecko because (a) KHTML is much faster, (b) KHTML's source code is smaller and cleaner, and (c) Apple doesn't need Gecko's multi-platform capability.

  • Safari 1.0: This was released on Jun 23 2003

Escape Escape

Escape is made by Espial. It is an HTML 4 browser, implemented in Java, designed for embedded applications such as Internet appliances.

  • In Jun 2003 the latest version was 4.89.

HotJava HotJava

HotJava was made by Sun Systems.

  • The last version, HotJava 3, was released in May 1999. It was never updated, and in April 2003 it was relegated to Sun's archives.

IBM Web Browser for OS/2 IBM Browsers

IBM makes browsers for OS/2 that are based on Netscape and Mozilla browsers. IBM also makes a Windows browser for the blind and visually impaired.

  • IBM Netscape Communicator 4: This is a port of the Netscape 4 suite. It is free.
  • IBM Home Page Reader 3: This is a talking browser for blind and visually impaired persons, for Windows 98, ME, 2000, and XP. It is not free.
  • IBM Web Browser for OS/2 2.x: It uses Mozilla's Gecko browser engine. It is available only to those with IBM Software Choice Subscriptions.

iCab iCab

iCab is a Mac-only browser made by Alexander Clauss and the iCab Company. iCab has been available as a beta for a long time, and has many loyal users. It is touted as a highly standards-compliant browser. Users will have to pay a small amount for it when it is officially released.

KDE's Konqueror Konqueror

Konqueror is a browser included in the open source KDE Desktop Environment for Unix and Linux systems. It is an HTML 4 browser that aspires to be fast and standards-compliant. It uses KDE's KHTML browser engine.

Another major desktop environment for UNIX and Linux systems is GNOME, for which Gecko-based browsers are available.

Lynx Lynx

Lynx is the most popular text-only browser. Lynx is updated at very rare intervals.

It may be impossible to find the current version for your O/S, since the Lynx developers do not consistently make it available for the common operating systems.

Microsoft Internet Explorer Microsoft Internet Explorer

Microsoft makes several independent browsers. Of these, Internet Explorer is firstly introduced in this list.

  • Microsoft's IE5: Microsoft no longer offers IE5 for Windows, HP-UX, or Sun Solaris. It does offer IE 5 for Macs, but will not offer future upgrades. Older versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported.
  • Microsoft's IE6: Microsoft released IE6 for Windows in Q3 of 2001, and SP1 a year later.
  • Microsoft's IE7: Microsoft says that a new version of Internet Explorer will appear with the next version of Windows in 2005.

The Internet Explorer engine is used by many browsers, including:

Microsoft MSN Explorer Microsoft MSN Explorer

MSN Explorer is a suite that Microsoft makes for subscribers of its MSN Internet service. The suite makes Microsoft's MSN Internet service a more viable competitor to AOL. It integrates existing Microsoft software with a new user interface.

  • Microsoft's MSN Explorer 2 // OS X: This was released on May 15, 2003.
  • Microsoft's MSN Explorer 7 // Windows: Users are encouraged to use v8.
  • Microsoft's MSN Explorer 8 // Windows: This was released on Oct. 23, 2002. A major difference from version 7 is that it is no longer free for those who wish to use it with their own ISP.
  • Microsoft's MSN Explorer? // Windows: A new version of MSN Explorer will be released in 2003/Q4; Microsoft announced in August 2003 that it will not have a version number.

Mosaic Mosaic

The NCSA made Mosaic, one of the original graphic-based browsers: earlier browsers were text-based. Many current browsers including Netscape and Internet Explorer trace their origins to Mosaic. Development of Mosaic was abandoned several years ago, and is mainly of historical interest.

Mozilla Mozilla

The Mozilla Group makes the open-source Gecko browser engine, used by the Mozilla browser suite and by a diverse range of products. Gecko is highly standards-compliant and is available on many platforms.

  • Mozilla 1: Mozilla 1 and its Gecko browser engine have been released. Work on updates is ongoing. The current 'most stable version', used by many products, is 1.4.
  • Mozilla Firebird (formerly Phoenix, to be released with the name Mozilla Browser): This will be a lean, standalone browser. It is under development.
  • Mozilla Thunderbird (formerly Minotaur, to be released with the name Mozilla Mail): This will be a lean, standalone e-mail/news program. It is under development.

Gecko is being used (or will be used) in many other products, including:

OmniWeb OmniWeb

The Omni Group makes the OmniWeb browser for Mac OS X .

  • OmniWeb 4: This is an HTML 4 browser that aspires to be standards-compliant.
  • OmniWeb 4.5: This uses the same KHTML engine that Safari uses.

Opera Opera

Opera Software makes the Opera browser for many operating systems, including embedded systems. Opera is renowned as a browser that is small, fast, standards-compliant, and available on many platforms.

  • Opera 3: Opera 3.62 is available for uncommon operating systems, e.g. BeOS and for Windows 3.1 and NT3.51.
  • Opera 4: Opera Software released v4 for a few platforms, but quickly moved to v5.
  • Opera 5: Opera Software still offers Opera 5 for the Mac, OS/2, QNX, and Symbian platforms, and alphas or betas for the EPOC, Mac OS X, and Solaris platforms.
  • Opera 6: Opera Software offers Opera 6 for Linux, Macs, and for 32-bit Windows, with a new user interface and Unicode support.
  • Opera 7: Opera Software offers Opera 7 for Windows and Linux, using a new, faster browser engine that conforms better to standards; it will offer Opera 7 for Macs later in 2003.

Like Internet Explorer and Mozilla, Opera is being used (or will be used) in many guises, including:

Amaya Amaya

Amaya is a browser/editor made by the W3C (Worldwide Web Consortium) an organization that defines the browser standards in order to test and exhibit elements of new standards. All versions of Amaya are necessarily betas.

The W3C plans to release the next update in Oct 2003. For details about Amaya, you can visit the Amaya site.

References and several information links about web browsers:

Cihan YILDIRIM-YCEL

 
     
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