It’s 2015 and your choice of browser has proven to be as important as your choice of operating system. Dedicated apps may be competing against browsers on mobile devices, but that is hardly the case in the desktop environment. On the contrary, each year more desktop browsers appear, and some of them can change the way you browse the Internet for the better.
Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera dominate the world’s desktop browser market. Whichever statistics you check (NetMarketshare, StatCounter’s GlobalStats or W3Counter), you’ll notice that they often contradict each other in declaring which browser is leading the race. However, no matter which method is used to determine usage share, all sources agree that those five browsers do not own 100% of the world’s desktop browser usage. They may be the most popular, but they are not the only options available for accessing the Internet. So, what about the remaining share?
Meet the “alternative browsers” — an unofficial term for all browsers other than the Big Five. These browsers, in most cases, follow the lead of Opera, which is based on the open-source Chromium project (as is Google Chrome). Anyone can take the Chromium code and build their own browser from it, adding and removing whatever functionality they wish. A similar case is Firefox, which is also an open-source project.
Keep in mind how often the Chromium engine is updated. Chromium, like any other software, has bugs. The developers behind it strive to eliminate those bugs, introduce performance fixes and minimize security threats. This is why Google Chrome has a six-week update cycle. It’s also why other Chromium-based browsers should follow suit. Most browsers try to keep up with Chromium releases, but some fall behind by six or seven versions, which is damaging to the user’s online security and browser stability.
So, since alternative browsers are basically tweaked copies of bigger browsers, does that mean they are bad tools for productive web browsing? Absolutely not! Alternative browsers aim to deliver improved performance and extra features to enhance the user’s online experience. They are a quick way to get a tool with all of the functionality a user needs right after installation.
Below are 15 desktop browsers that are worth considering if you’re tired of the browser war champions. This list isn’t comprehensive — several hundred browsers are available online — but these are the ones that regularly receive updates and provide a new web surfing experience.
We won’t delve into the development aspects behind each browser. Instead, you’ll find a quick overview of the most interesting features and of functionality that isn’t available in the popular browsers by default or even with add-ons. We’ll also mention the rendering engine used in each browser to give you an idea of how you will experience the web in them: Blink (on which Chrome is based), Trident (Internet Explorer), Gecko (Firefox) and WebKit (Safari). Let’s start with those that have the most features and move towards more single-purpose browsers.
The Browsers Link
UC Browser Link
- Operating system(s): Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Symbian, Java
- Rendering engine(s): Blink
- Key feature(s): most cross-platform, distinctive UI
UC Browser is the undeniable king of platform-compatibility — you can even make it work on an old Symbian device. This isn’t the only reason to check it out. The well-rounded design and smooth animation of all elements make UC Browser feel fresh and modern. An up-to-date Chromium engine contributes to browser’s security. To begin, you choose how a new tab will look: a bubble-like speed-dial UI or a more traditional layout. UC Browser offers a cloud account for all of your settings, bookmarks and extensions from the Chrome Web Store, a decent alternative to the whole Google ecosystem.
Downloading files is another notable aspect of UC Browser. The downloads manager isn’t advanced (you can’t download torrents or online video), but it’s rather unique. It is the only browser that sorts downloads by category, helping you navigate gigabytes of files. The browser can even download files to the dedicated UC Cloud Storage. Although its capacity is small, 2 GB, this is a useful feature for mobile devices because you don’t have to wait for downloads to finish.
UC Browser doesn’t focus only on security, file downloads and social networks. This browser aims to appeal to a wide audience, without dictating how it is to be used. Most Chromium browsers can be considered an improved version of Chrome somewhat, whereas UC Browser is more of a new Chrome.