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Let the Browser Games begin!

Two new Web browsers  in 2015  may signal  a second War of the Browsers -- and the  kurukshetraor battlefield  will be your mobile phone
By AnandParthasarathy

Bangalore, February 2 2015: It  is 25 years since Microsoft  launched  a web browser -- Internet Explorer -- to take  on what was then the  only  competition: NetScape  Navigator.   By giving it away free   and -- bundling it with  the operating system Windows   -- Microsoft   launched  the famous Browser War of the 1990s and by 1995 had   captured the hearts, minds and desktops of 95 % of all users.   Its domination  ended after Google launched Chrome in 2008 and  overtook IE four years later.
PC -- and increasingly mobile-- users have had other options: Opera  whose mini version has been quite popular with  phone users who  looked for a  thin-and-lean browser; Firefox , a firm favourite with Open Source  premis,  and Apple's own Safari. Chrome's  domination of nearly half  the market  obscures a  truth:  Millions  of users have chosen to go with minority browsers that  offered them a  USP of some kind.   UC Browser  has  its biggest base of users in India and China -- two regions where mobile users are challenged by  slow connection speeds and appreciate a browser that  helps overcome such hitches.
A Bangalore-based team  at  Hidden Reflex,  can take credit for launching Epic,  the world's first browser that addresses one of the biggest concern of  Internet users today: privacy.  Commercially driven 'eyes' are watching your every keystroke.  I was upset to be targeted by ads for old peoples'  homes just because I had discussed  my mother's failing health in an email with my family.  Epic  calls itself, the Privacy Browser  and ensures that people can't track and 'pursue' you on the Net with unsolicited ads and other  nuisance.  A single click lets you hide your  URL and browse through a proxy.  Granted, Chrome  too, has a feature called Incognito;   but it doesn't  go as far as it should, because-- let's face it  -- Google has a vested interest in  pushing ads to your page.
Now it seems we are going to face a problem of plenty -- browser-wise.  Last week saw two  new browsers announced:

  • Jon von Tetzchner,  co-founder and former CEO of Opera Software, leads a new outfit  has launch Vivaldi.  I am trying out the browser that is now available in  a technical preview version. It has an Opera-like feature called Speed Dial  and a useful note-taking  feature. It takes me back to the old days  control+key commands,   in the way it helps keep track of multiple  tabs and pages Well placed  buttons and side bars  make it easy to  access contacts, downloads and  other things that in other browsers are buried deep.  Vivaldi is currently a  desktop-only browser.
  • Microsoft is working to launch a new browser  to complement or replace IE -- it's not very clear.  But Spartan  will work across the entire Windows 10  device family:  from keyboard and mouse on the desktop to touch, gestures, voice, controllers and sensors. In that sense it is a very modern browser scaling up and down to the user's screen  size. Spartan should be preloaded on Windows 10  PCs, tablets and phones bought in the second half of  2015 -- and who knows,  like the  ancient warrior race whose name it bears, Microsoft's new browser  may launch a new era of   swift and frugal  browsing, letting us leap from one maidan to another  in our quest for Net nirvana!  



    


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