My browser can beat up your browser

If there's one issue that's more contentious than Windows vs. Mac (or Linux) it's favorite Web browsers. Though Mozilla Firefox still gets the nod from CNET Download.com editors, it's facing tougher and tougher competition.

Firefox, IE, Opera, and Avant Browser

Last week's post about Living with Windows XP generated a virtual storm of comments. Most readers echoed my own personal notion of sticking with XP for the near future instead of upgrading to Windows Vista.

It's not surprising that a discussion about operating systems can arouse empassioned responses. After all, it's the most essential software many of us run. The only other current candidate for king of software apps is the mighty Web browser.

I've been thinking about browsers lately, as well as my allegiance to Mozilla Firefox as my personal surfing weapon of choice. With the amount of customization and third-party add-ons, the open-source browser is extremely tough to beat.

However, I'm not so wedded to Firefox that I won't use other browsers. I have Internet Explorer, Opera, Avant Browser, Flock, and Songbird all installed on various machines, and I use them all regularly. I've even got Safari in case I need to check out iPhone-only apps without an iPhone.

I often use IE7 for certain Web applications or sometimes when I want to view a page full-screen (as long as it renders correctly). Opera is fast for me, and I like fast. I'll often run it in conjunction with Firefox when I need to load a large batch of sites. Avant Browser is an interesting variation on IE7 that uses the same layout engine with a lighter system footprint and a variety of unique features.

Flock--a browser that connects with social-networking services--and Songbird--a music player/browser hybrid--are interesting apps that build off Firefox's XUL engine, but both need a bit more development before I'd use either as my default.

What's your browser of choice and why? Would you ever switch? Tell me about it in the comments.

About Peter Butler

Peter has been working at Download.com since 2003, when trialware was shareware and toolbars were those large metal rods for smashing car windows. Currently, he wrangles the reviews, videos, newsletter, blog, and special collections for Download.com, as well as managing the program data throughout the software directory.

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