Firefox vs. Chrome, Does It Even Matter?
You probably don’t think too much about the Internet browser you use every morning. You open Firefox or Chrome because your friends told you to. If you use a Mac, you open up Safari because it’s there. And as long as it gets work done, you never cared.
But then, why don’t you use Internet Explorer?
It’s a perfectly good browser. Like Safari, it comes with every Microsoft PC. Like Google Chrome and Firefox, it gets the job done.
So then why don’t you use it?
Probably because you’ve heard one of the following:
- Internet Explorer is slow
- There are no add-ons
- Internet Explorer is not as secure as Firefox/Chrome
- Firefox is a better version of Internet Explorer
- Google Chrome searches better than Bing (Microsoft’s search engine)
- It looks bad
And the list goes on.
The interesting thing is, you actually agreed to one of those points and started using Firefox or Chrome (and for Mac users you just “felt” Safari was better than Internet Explorer). Then the debate between Chrome and Firefox started and you had advocates throwing their advantages at each other.
But for you at work (and at home), does it really matter which browser you use? For all the debate between which browser is better, will it make a difference at the end of the day?
The answer is yes, but not as much as you think.
You won’t suddenly gain a massive amount of productivity just by changing your Internet browser (if only it was that easy), but some browsers are better for certain purposes, even if personal preference plays a huge role at the end of the day.
Let’s take apart the differences by first looking at what everyone agrees with:
1. It Does Not Matter Which Browser I Use If I Can’t Access The Internet
This sounds very obvious, but unless you can do your work without the Internet for more than 5 days, I highly doubt you realize how meaningful this is.
The main reason people don’t switch or don’t really care about the Internet browsers they use is this: as long as I have Internet access, it does its job.
After all, Google Chrome would be a terrible Internet browser if you couldn’t access the Internet at all. In fact, if Chrome could only access the Internet 90% of the time, that would still be bad by today’s demands and standards.
It’s the same reason why you don’t see people scrambling to get Firefox or Chrome on their smart phones. Sure, it MIGHT work better, but at the end of the day you’re probably more concerned about accessing the Internet, and Android’s Opera, Apple’s iOS or Amazon’s Silk will still get you the Internet just fine if you’re not on a PC or laptop. So no one really complains, even though none of those browsers are as good as Firefox or Chrome.
In fact, the only real complaint you hear about a browser is “I can’t access the Internet through it”, which just goes to show how important access is. So as long as we can reliably access what we want, how we access it is not too important.
2. Default Browsers Are The Baseline, And It Constantly Changes
For a long time, Internet Explorer was the best Internet browser hands down (it was a long time ago, but it was true). Your only alternatives at the time were Linux’s Ubuntu or Netscape, and those weren’t strong competitors back then. But they all came from improvements from the very first Internet browser, the WorldWideWeb, made by the people who created the Internet.
As technology evolved, we saw browsers like Firefox, Chrome and Safari start touting improvements over Internet Explorer, and then Internet Explorer became the baseline. Even Microsoft’s new Internet browser for Windows 10 was described as “better than Internet Explorer”. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that our browsers now are better than what existed back then, and they have always been improving.
Technology keeps evolving, and with it our demands and expectations of the Internet.
3. The Dark Side Of The Internet Exists For Everyone
The Internet was a great way to share knowledge with the world, but with it came a few problems, hackers and viruses (and a lot of unexpected ones too, but that’s for another time).
Just as people used the Internet for good things, people started using it for bad things too. There were now ways to make your computer crash or steal your money, which started a lot of Internet security measures and anti-virus programs. The worst part was, just as the Internet kept improving, so did the viruses and the hacking measures.
Now Safari users might take this time to say that choosing a Macintosh with Apple’s own operating system prevents them from ever experiencing this dark side. It’s true that with Macintosh PCs or laptops you won’t see viruses or hackers often, but they are still there. Just because someone hasn’t hit you with a virus doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Internet security is more important than ever, and even though personal preference plays a big part of which browser we choose, we would definitely choose the browser that keeps us safe.
The only problem is, there isn’t a clear answer. It’s not Safari either; only the operating system really keeps you safe from viruses and such, and it’s still not foolproof.
So if Internet access is important, everything is better than the first Internet browser, and you’re not 100% safe no matter which browser you use, why would you pick Firefox over Chrome, vice versa, dodge the conflict and install Safari, or just stay with Internet Explorer?
Here is why.
Firefox offers a greater amount of customization if you know what you’re doing
Firefox is a great personal browser, for the reason that if you know the coding and programming needed to make your own custom applications, you can actually make Firefox the browser for you. Even if you don’t know programming too well, you still have access to a large Firefox community that is willing to help you out with your Firefox needs, problems and/or ideas. It is somewhat like a “make your own browser” with the capability to add on whatever you can make, and for the less technically inclined you are able to add-on the functions that other people have graciously provided for free.
What’s more, the company behind Firefox, Mozilla, is a non-profit, meaning nothing that they do goes towards any corporate goal, unlike Google. So everyone that’s working on Firefox and any changes made on Firefox are made by people like you for people like you. That means a lot to people in a world of for-profit corporate dominance. This also means Firefox security is designed by people who have had the same problems as you, meaning Firefox security designed around pain points as much as possible.
However, to take full advantage of Firefox you would have to know the programming and coding needed to make add-ons and designs for yourself. While that doesn’t actually stop you from using Firefox, a lack of technical knowledge means that while you can still customize the browser, all you really have at the end of the day is a fancier Internet Explorer that runs faster.
Google Chrome has better support for a working environment
Google Chrome comes in as an Internet browser with built-in Google capabilities. Right from the start, you have full Google search functionalities and a browser designed around anything Google. This means heavy users of Google (which is going to be just about everybody) will be able to access Google’s more in-depth features (such as Voice Search) that would not work as well if you used them on a different browser (like Internet Explorer and Firefox).
Chrome also works in the cloud with Google Accounts, meaning that you can “save” your progress on one account and take it with you on any device. This means you won’t constantly have to re-upload your bookmarks or your favourite settings every time you use a new device or a new computer, and can access the same Google Drive that you did at home. This is very useful if you’re a contractor, going to a new job or finding yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of job hopping.
However, for people who don’t use Google often, none of the benefits will really shine here. Search engines like Yahoo and Bing are becoming more popular, and most of Google’s cloud applications are already available on non-Google platforms. Google Chrome can be customized just like Firefox, but the prevalence of customization options doesn’t stand out as a difference.
Also, because Google is a corporate organization, you don’t get the same level of customization for Google that you do with Firefox, as Google won’t let you tap into the inner workings of Chrome. The upside is because of that, Google Chrome’s security is completely managed by Google and thus they offer reliable support like they do with their other products.
Safari works better on Macintosh computers, laptops and Apple devices
Not everyone uses Windows PCs/laptops, so what about Apple users?
Safari is a very capable browser that works well on the Mac OSX system, and since it was designed with the operating system in mind, the two go very well together, and actually work better than if you brought on Firefox and Google Chrome as web browsers. In fact, Safari works so well that you really only bring on other browsers for tests more than anything.
Of course, just like Google Chrome with Google, Safari has better integration with Apple’s products, so if you are a heavy mobile device user, you get a seamless transition because Safari carries your Apple account on multiple devices just like Chrome does. What’s more, you get Safari even on mobile devices, whereas Windows users would have to settle for Android’s Opera browser.
Of course, the major downside to Safari is that it’s designed for Apple products. If you’re not using Apple products, you can still use Safari, but you won’t get the experience that you would have on an Apple device. Just like how getting Firefox or Chrome on a Macintosh PC is not very effective, the same is said for Safari and Windows.
Apple’s security is very tight, owing mostly to the fact that there are more PC users than Mac users and hackers would rather target more than less. So Apple products are less likely to get you the same virus and hacker problems that you would encounter in Windows. The downside to that is if you are unlucky enough to encounter one of the few Mac OSX viruses that exist, they are very hard to deal with due to the rarity of the problem in the first place.
Internet Explorer is there if you really don’t care or are indifferent to other browsers
Internet Explorer is the default browser on a lot of Microsoft computers and laptops. It’s not the best, and clearly Microsoft knew that by giving everyone Microsoft Edge on Windows 10. But since not everyone is using Windows 10 yet, Internet Explorer is all you have.
Granted, there’s nothing inherently bad about Internet Explorer. You can still do everything you could on Firefox, Chrome or Safari, but as you might have noticed, those browsers are more advanced than Internet Explorer, so you will see slower speeds on the browser, and some website functionalities that were available on other browsers are not available on Internet Explorer, which means you can’t access those websites.
There are add-ons and such, but not as much as the other browsers. So why would you want Internet Explorer?
It’s actually quite reliable and if you’re not into downloading browsers, Internet Explorer does its job just fine. Microsoft supports it like Google supports Chrome, so you have access to corporate support. As it is the default browser, as long as you have a PC/laptop, you can always count on having Internet Explorer to do your tasks, especially if you can’t download the other browsers for whatever reason (which does happen).
So at the end of the day,
Firefox is better for personal use, Google Chrome is better for work, Safari is better for Mac OSX, Internet Explorer if you do not care
At the end of the day, it really is mostly down personal preference and none of the arguments I’ve made here today will (or should) encourage people to switch because one browser suddenly became better than the other. But it’s helpful to know that Firefox puts the freedom of the Internet into your hands, Chrome makes things easier for the working population and that Safari is pretty much the go-to if you’re not using a Windows PC or device.
People still use Firefox at work, Chrome for personal use and Safari on non-Apple devices. People still use Internet Explorer for just about everything. And there are many other Internet browsers out there. But by knowing what each browser is good for, it helps you explore the capabilities of each browser and get a little more productivity out of them than you did before.
For more information on IT, follow us at @mspblueshift and on our Facebook page. If you would like a free look at your IT, contact us here and we will get back to you ASAP.