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Monday, August 11, 2008

Opera Vs Firefox - May the Best Browser Win

P.S.: This is a guest Post by Heather Johnson

The Olympics kicked off with great fanfare last weekend at Beijing, and fans wait with bated breath to see who among the thousands of athletes emerges the fastest and strongest in all the categories of competitions on both land and water. Meanwhile, the Internet is seeing its share of competition from the browsers that provide access to the numerous sites that it hosts. With Mozilla coming out with Firefox 3 RC3 and Opera with version 9.5 in June earlier this year, there’s a quest to see which is faster and which is better.

In my book, Firefox scores over the rest, but maybe that’s because I’ve been using it for years and the browser has sort of become a close friend. I’ve also tried Opera for a while but came back to good old Firefox simply because I’m a creature of habit. One browser that I try to avoid is Internet Explorer – it’s bulky, it’s slow and till recently did not support tabbed browsing (I had to have around 15 windows open simultaneously at one point, which is when I looked around for a savior and found Firefox). But there are certain sites that force me to keep IE around to use in a pinch, like the time I invested in anew notebook computer and faced a few problems with my security suite - the company’s online help insisted I needed Internet Explorer as they talked me through the process of reinstalling my subscription.

I recently downloaded the latest version of Firefox and found it fast enough for my browsing needs. But when looking around for the fastest browser in the field, I found that zdnet ranked Firefox higher than both Safari and Opera using the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark (incidentally, Internet Explorer is way down at the bottom of the list). Opera and Safari scored high on the ACID3 test though, which checks how compatible a browser is to web standards.

Lifehacker tests the browser startup times and Opera wins hands down in a cold start with Safari close behind, Firefox third and IE at the bottom as usual. In a warm start however, Firefox takes bottom place with the other three almost equal. In multi-tab loading times, Safari came in first followed by Opera, Firefox and then IE. But Firefox took home the gold medal for the most efficient memory usage when 8 tabs were kept open; Opera comes in second, Safari third and IE last.

There’s not much to choose between Opera and Firefox at first sight, unless you’re averse to using software that’s not free and open source (Firefox scores here). As for me, with more than 15 tabs open at any given time, I’d say that Firefox still remains my favorite cup of tea!

This post was contributed by Heather Johnson, who writes on the subject of high speed Internet deals. She invites your feedback at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.