August 11, 2010, 4:06 PM — Not too long ago the job of a Web browser was simple: Get the text from the Internet and pour it into the window. If a tag like <strong> comes along, change the font. Now the challenges are greater because the browser is becoming the home for almost everything we do. Do you have documents to edit? There's a website for that. Did you miss a television show? There's a website for that. Do you want to announce your engagement? There's a website for that too. The Web browser handles all of that and more.
Choosing a best browser is an impossible job. On one hand, the programs are as close to commodities as there are in the computer industry. The core standards are pretty solid and the job of rendering the document is well understood. Most differences can be smoothed over when the Web designers use cross-platform libraries like jQuery. Many websites look the same in all of the major browsers, a testament to the hard work of the developers and their desire to get their information out to the largest audience.
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On the other hand, there's a lot of competition, and some very smart people are working hard to produce very clever new innovations. Yes, some of the so-called innovations are trivial, but if you're going so spend all day with a piece of software, it makes sense to be picky. While you may not care if someone moves a button from the left to the right, other users do -- and the discussion forums are filled with debate.
It may be impossible to be rational about many of the cosmetic issues, like the placement of buttons or the location of the tabs. These are intensely personal decisions, and the look and feel can often be changed with add-ons. There's not much point debating these issues.