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    A Web browser is actually a software application that runs on your Internet-connected computer. It allows you to view Web pages, as well as use other content and technologies such as video, graphics files, and digital certificates, to name a few.

    How Do Web Browsers Work?

    The World Wide Web is a system of Internet servers that support specially formatted documents. Web browsers are used to make it easy to access the World Wide Web. Browsers are able to display Web pages largely in part to an underlying Web protocol called HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP). HTTP defines how messages are formatted and transmitted, and what actions Web servers and browsers should take in response to various commands. It is what allows Web clients and Web servers to communicate with each other. When you enter a Web address (URL) in your browser, this actually sends an HTTP command to the Web server directing it to fetch and transmit the requested Web page and display the information in your browser. All Web servers serving Web sites and pages support the HTTP protocol.

    Example: The URL to reach the definition of browser on Webopedia is:

    Once you enter the URL “” into your address line, the browser breaks that Web address down into three distinct parts.

    1. The Protocol: “http”
    2. The server name: “”
    3. The file name, which follows the server name: “browser.html”

    In order for your browser to actually connect to the Web server to retrieve the information you request, it communicates with a name server to translate the server name into an IP address. Your Web browser is then able to connect to the Web server at the resolved IP address on port 80. Once your browser has connected to the Web server using HTTP, the browser then reads the HyperText Markup Language (HTML), the authoring language used to create documents on the World Wide Web, and the data is then displayed in your Web browser.

    A Web browser is actually a software application that runs on your Internet-connected computer. It allows you to view Web pages, as well as use other content and technologies such as video, graphics files, and digital certificates, to name a few. Some browsers will translate only text while others do support graphics and animation. Web browsers are not all created equal, and Web pages also will not be displayed the same in different browsers.

    Microsoft Internet Explorer Web Browser

    Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) is currently considered the dominant browser. IE version 7X offers tabbed browsing, instant access to e-mail, integrated RSS support, better standards compliance, a built-in phishing filter, advanced security (cross-domain script barriers, International Domain Name Anti-Spoofing protection and so on), and an option for deleting browsing history by removing user-identifiable information. The latest version of IE supports Windows XP, Windows XP 64-bit Edition, Windows Vista, Windows Vista 64-bit Edition, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 64-bit Edition, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2008 64-bit Edition.

    Mozilla Firefox Web Browser

    Mozilla Firefox is a free, open source, cross-platform, Web browser developed by the Mozilla Corp. and hundreds of volunteers. Mozilla Corp. is responsible for the browser, where volunteers and enthusiasts have created many of the plug-ins available for the browser. Firefox offers support for many standards including HTML, HTML, XML, XHTML, CSS, ECMAScript (JavaScript), DTD, XSL, SVG, XPath and PNG images. The browser can also be used on a variety of operating systems such as Windows, Mac OSX, BeOS, FreeBSD, Linux, and others. Industry statistic show that around 12 percent of Internet users are using Mozilla Firefox.

    Google Chrome Web Browser

    Google Chrome is a Web browser designed for Windows systems. It offers users a minimal design and what Google calls ‘sophisticated technology’ to make the web faster, safer, and easier on Windows-based PCs. Google Chrome features searching from the address bar, thumbnail views of your favorite pages for quick access, a private browsing function that opens an incognito window when you don’t want to save your browsing history, instant bookmarks, crash control and dynamic tabs. The browser works with Windows Vista and Windows XP.

    Opera Web Browser

    Opera is an international Web browser, developed in Norway. It is available for Windows 3.x and Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP/2003 in four different languages. The most current release, Opera 9x, includes widgets, support for BitTorrents, support for a wide variety of image, audio, and video formats, as well as enhanced HTML features, JavaScript, server push capabilities, Opera email, voice technology, and client side image mapping.

    Netscape Web Browser

    The first commercial Web browser was Netscape. The latest version is available for Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows 98 SE and Windows ME. Netscape Browser 8x is the next-generation release of Netscape’s venerable and once extremely popular Web browser. Version 8.0 is based on code from company spin-off Mozilla, borrowing much of the functionality and format from the increasingly popular Firefox browser. The Netscape browser offers integrated pop-up controls, tabbed browsing features, and a password manager, but the most interesting and unique feature is the dual rendering and layout engines that allow users to switch between Firefox and IE.

    6 More Web Browsers

    AOL Explorer
    AOL uses Microsoft’s Trident engine, the same engine that powers Internet Explorer. The latest 1.5 version offers enhanced security, built-in pop-up control, tabbed browsing and a feeds screensaver, use themes to customize the look and feel of your browser, and also create desktop widgets from panels.

    GreenBrowser is an open source Web browser that uses Microsoft’s Trident engine. It offers some unique features, like the option to search direct by dragging text in the browser.

    Swiftfox is a Web browser for Linux platforms that is based on Mozilla Firefox technology, with builds for both AMD and Intel processors.

    Lunascape 5
    Lunascape is a ‘triple-engine’ Web browser that uses Microsoft’s Trident, the Mozilla Foundation’s Gecko is developed by the Mozilla Foundation, and WebKit (also used for Google Chrome). Lunascape is an excellent browser for Web developers who often find themselves needing to switch between browsers to test functionality of a site. Lunascape-specific features include anti-crash technology, triple engines that can represent every web site on the planet quickly and precisely, plus design skins customizable to your heart’s content.

    Konqueror is a Web browser, file manager and file viewer that is a core part of the K Desktop Environment. It runs on most Unix-based operating systems and is licensed under the GNU General Public License.

    Apple Safari
    Safari is a Web browser available for the Macintosh and Windows operating systems as well as the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

    Based in Nova Scotia, Vangie Beal is has been writing about technology for more than a decade. She is a frequent contributor to EcommerceGuide and managing editor at Webopedia. You can tweet her online @AuroraGG.

    This article was originally published on March 06, 2009

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