Let us start with a brief history of browsers. Most people think the first web browser was Mosaic, but in fact, a browser called WorldWideWeb existed quite a few years before Mosaic. As this was CERN's property and not a graphical browser (that's pain black and white; imagine facebooking in it :P) it was not much popular. Mosaic, however, was an instant success, creating a new revolution and defining the modern browser! Years later, even the most popular browsers today retain some of the characteristics of the original Mosaic. The creators of Mosaic were soon recruited by Netscape, which was a new establishment then. They created the Netscape Navigator, which turned out to be even more popular than Mosaic! Microsoft was not far behind and came up with its (buggy) Internet Explorer. Netscape Navigator was eventually brought down by Microsoft, when it started distributing IE as a bundled software with its Operating Systems and also made it available for free download, not to forget the (in)famous Anti Trust trial by Microsoft! Opera launched just after IE, but failed to make much of an impact. Google's own Chrome (Chromium for Ubuntu) made ripples in the browser market after its launch in '08.
Now a look at the most popular browsers:
Internet Explorer (IE7+)- Here, I mention IE 7+ just because IE 6 and below are just too bad for browsing now-a-days(they don't even have tabbed browsing). Although IE 7 came up with a lot of features, it still remains a few steps behind (I may be exaggerating, but it sucks) its counterparts. Although its the top ranked browser in the world(come on people, it is as if you are using a windows 95 when your PC can run Windows 7), mostly because it is favoured by business groups, as it comes pre installed on most (or all) PCs. Not very stable, takes a lot of time to load, frequent crashes- I suggest, if you use Windows, install a different browser...
Opera- It does seem to remove the problems of IE and brings in a bit of eye candy, I still seem to think it has something missing. Although its motto is 'faster and safer', I just don't think its that 'fast'. One good feature in Opera is the voice commands, but are we that lazy?
Safari- Apple always comes up with stylish gizmos and apps, and Safari is not at all behind. Its the best looking browser of all the ones I've mentioned here (or even thought of mentioning)! Its very stable, even in 64-bit operating systems, with its tabbed browsing providing the very best eye candy a browser can ever provide with the top sites and history having a 3-D effect. Anyone who went for Vista over XP for the look(that goes for me as well), go for Safari.
Chrome- When I first saw that Google had launched Chrome (I still remember the ad in google.com) I never thought it could make much of an impact, but I decided to try it anyways. To my surprise, I never left using it until I installed a 64-bit Windows 7. Chrome is easy to use and lightning fast!
One bug that I did find in Chrome till date is that it's unstable in 64-bit OS and prone to crashes(hopefully Chrome 6 won't have this problem)
One more issue with Chrome is that in case of slow internet connections, it occasionally downloads php files automatically, which were meant for viewing...
However Chrome is my winner :D
Firefox- The name needs no explanation. It's actually the descendent of the Navigator which disappeared eventually. It is (according to me) THE most secure browser available. It's not as fast as the Chrome but not much behind either. The only issue with Firefox is the start up time which is quite high as compared to other browsers. However, that can be fixed by using a pre loader, which loads firefox into your RAM on system start. It can be downloaded from: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ffpreloader/files/Version%201.0/Build%20366%20-%20Final/
The second most popular browser behind IE, Mozilla has proved yet again with the release of Firefox 4, that the BROWSER WARS is still on!
Before I mention Rockmelt, there was another social networking browser called Flock, it was discontinued after being taken over by Zynga (remember 'Farmville'?).
RockMelt- Love Facebook and Twitter? Well, if that's the case, RockMelt's the browser for you. Although its an underdog considering the popularity of the other browsers, it works on the same platform as Chrome and thus, looks a lot like Chrome. Imagine the news feed and twitter updates on the right panel of your browser and the online friends on the left panel, all lightning fast sharing on facebook/twitter- that's what RockMelt gives you. I learnt in a thermodynamics class that 'if something is too good to be true, it probably is'. I guess RockMelt shatters that notion :D
Well, one issue with this browser is that it can't be integrated with Internet Download Manager.
Welcome to transparent browsing! Wanna watch a movie and facebook simultaneously? aeroFox is what you want! Just open it over the movie you're watching (or anything else for that matter, ranging from study notes to another browser!). This is quite fast as well. However one issue with this is that tabbed browsing is not possible!
As you may have seen, none of the browsers got a perfect 10. Why? That's because none of them are perfect. As I still wait for the perfect browser, I'd like to say someone please develop a browser which has all the good things- Safari's easy-reading mode, Opera's turbo browsing, Firefox's tab candy, RockMelt's social networking features and Chrome's speed...