The biggest change in my workflow over the years has been a shift from desktop applications to web apps. And my browser of choice remains Google Chrome.
Granted, Chrome isn’t perfect. Critics cite performance and battery life issues, which to be fair Google has been addressing recently, and also its close ties to Google. But I’m honestly not sure I see these issues day-to-day for the most part.
What I do see quite clearly are Chrome’s advantages. And I say this having regularly evaluated the competition: Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera. In fact, I spent a good portion of the past week doing so, in part because of improvements that Microsoft is adding to Edge in the Creators Update.
But they just don’t measure up for the most part. Here are a few reasons why.
Compatibility with mobile devices. Choosing a web browser is no longer just about Windows and PCs. That browser also needs to be on the mobile devices you’re using. And providing full and automatic sync between your bookmarks, settings, and, if you’re using this, saved site passwords. All web browsers do this to some degree, but Edge does not offer any sync with the platforms people are using (Android and iOS) and is thus less viable regardless of its other benefits.
2FA support. Given the importance of the web browser today, it is likewise important that the online account you use with that browser is well-protected. This is doubly true if you choose to store website passwords in the browser. But Firefox and Opera—which are otherwise excellent—do not support full two-factor authentication (2FA), while Google and Microsoft do. That is a requirement in 2017.
Superior rendering engine. While there is a healthy debate to be had around which browser rendering engines are “best,” let’s just say that when it comes to browsing on Windows, in particular, Chrome provides the predictable, performant, and accurate rendering experience I expect. Other browsers may respect high-DPI displays better—particularly in the UI stuff, where Chrome does lag—but overall Chrome is the winner here.
Web apps on Windows. This one is a big deal for me: Chrome is the only modern browser that lets you create web apps shortcuts on Windows that look like native applications. (In the sense that you’re not running the apps in a full browser window with all the navigation and other controls.) I love this feature and use it every day, most frequently with Google Inbox (email) and Google Calendar.
Extensibility. All modern web browsers support some form of extensibility in the form of browser add-ins or extensions. It’s not clear to me whether Chrome is “better” in this regard than, say, Firefox, but I bet it is. (Edge is very immature in this regard.) I rely on many Chrome extensions, and this capability helps the browser overcome some of its built-in, Google-focused limitations, such as its lack of integrated reading mode and ad blocking.
And as it turns out, I’m not alone in my Chrome usage. Chrome is the most-often-used web browser in the world, by far, with almost 60 percent usage share. And it’s the most-often-used web browser by Thurrott.com readers, where it commands 55 percent of the usage. (Firefox is number 2, with 14.5 percent.) You guys get it, of course.
Looking forward, I will of course continue to reevaluate other browsers, especially when there are updates that bring meaningful changes. I like the idea of Firefox, for example—“the only browser built for people, not profit”—and Opera’s bulked-up built-in functionality is interesting as well. And I love the way that Microsoft Edge renders text, in particular, though I find the browser to be slow, buggy (copy and paste in particular), and still lagging with the features I need most. But nothing is written in stone.