In days of old, when the web was very young, there was really only one browser in town, Netscape Navigator. Navigator ruled supreme (if you ignore text-only pre-mouse creations like Lynx) but its reign was short-lived. It was not long before it was shown the door by Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE), which came bundled with Windows. By 2003 Netscape was no more and IE enjoyed 95 per cent of the browser market, which by then was far larger. But Navigator got its revenge when its source code was taken up by the Mozilla Foundation and used to create the Firefox browser which immediately began gnawing away at IE's lead.
Thanks to their open source codebase there are many different forks of Chrome and Firefox out there these days. Some are designed to fill a particular niche; others exist simply because their creators fancied making one. With such a bounty of browsers out there it seems a shame to stick with the ones you know, so join V3 for a tour of the known browser universe.
Rising from the ashes of Netscape Navigator, Firefox is now on version 50. It's endured a few ups and downs over the years but is now in a pretty stable place and less of a resource hog than it used to be. Open source and capable of running on pretty much any operating system, Firefox is still the first choice of many thanks to its flexibility, customisability and masses of extensions and other add-ons. Recent releases have seen the browser become privacy conscious with ad blocking and anti-tracking as standard in private mode, and you can sync settings across devices.
That said, it's starting to feel a bit long in the tooth, but 2017 will see Firefox's aging Gecko engine replaced by Quantum, which Mozilla says will make it much faster and smoother, especially on newer hardware.
There are numerous Firefox forks out there too, most adhering to the element-animal naming format. So say hello to IceWeasel, WaterFox, SeaMonkey and IceCat, and to Pale Moon, which daringly bucks the trend.
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