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Get ready for new web browsers

New browsers are popping up and the mouse may be headed for extinction

Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are instantly recognizable as today's top web browsers. But for how long?

As technology changes, web browsers will have to change too, as people don't use the Internet in the same way as they did even 10 years ago. Many people are constantly online or they're using smartphone apps, but web browsers have stayed more or less the same.

Take Internet Explorer for example. It hasn't changed that much at all over the years, but now according to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft is going the touch-screen route and creating a web browser that can be manipulated by a press or a swipe.

Since a lot of folks are using apps today almost as much as they're using the web, companies are attempting to make web browsers just as fast and easy to use as today's apps.

Just this past April, Google released its updated version of Google Chrome which includes a voice feature so you can surf the web by talking instead of typing. The new Google Chrome is still in beta.

Mitchell Baker, Chairperson of the Mozilla Foundation and former CEO of Mozilla Corporation, said web browsers have to be updated to meet the ever-changing ways that people are using the Internet.

Consumers no longer browse, Baker says says. They have specific destinations they like to visit and most times they know what pages they want to go to. Browsers should accommodate that. 

"The way we think about it is much too concrete. We don't browse anymore for sure," said Baker at the LeWeb conference in Paris.

No longer mysterious

And it's true. The web is no longer this new and mysterious thing that we want to explore. Most of us know which pages we want to visit and we visit these same pages every day.

Then there's the touch-screen, which seems bound to replace the mouse. In February, Microsoft released a new browser for Windows 7 and 8 called Internet Explorer 10, which takes the touch-screen concept and completely runs with it. 

Instead of clicking on different icons to access the site you want, all you have to do is touch a page to open it. Microsoft says Internet Explorer 10 is the first browser that's perfect for touch.

Cloud browsers

With most people having multiple devices, many want to be able to access their files, sites, apps and messages whether they're on their computer, smartphone or tablet. So companies like Maxthon Ltd. are creating browsers that allow them to do that.

Similar to Dropbox, the Maxthon "cloud browser" lets users send or download information to a cloud-based account and access that information on multiple devices.

Right now Maxthon customizes its browsers for whatever device you're using, whether it's your smartphone, home computer or tablet. 

In addition, Maxthon announced a deal with Pioneer Electronics to create touch screens in cars. That's not popular with safety advocates but there may be ways to reduce the risks from driving while browsing or texting. Maybe a new kind of browser could do that somehow.

Then there's Servo, a relatively new project created by Mozilla and Samsung that's supposed to reinvent how web browsers function as well.

"Servo is a research project to develop a new web browser engine," said a Mozilla employee during an interview with NetMagazine. "Our goal is to create an architecture that takes advantage of parallelism at many levels, both on the CPU and GPU, while eliminating common sources of bugs and security vulnerabilities associated with incorrect memory management and data races."

"With Servo, we aim to take the kinds of fluid, richer multimedia experiences expected in today's smartphone and tablet applications to the next level on tomorrow's web and tomorrow's hardware," the Mozilla worker said.

Internet Explorer may even have to come up with a new name eventually, because we don't explore the Internet anymore. We quickly grab our devices, visit a page, then move on.

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.
Consumer Affairs

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