What is a browser and how does it work. History of development

We will send the material to you by email:

    Время чтения: 51 мин.

    What is a browser?

    A browser is software (software) that allows you to conveniently view Internet pages, web documents, files, directories; manage web applications, as well as solve many other tasks.

    If you are wondering what browsers are, then modern types of browsers are Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Apple Safari, Internet Explorer (because it is preinstalled on Windows by default). Yandex.Browser is also becoming popular in Russia, but, unfortunately, it is local and not particularly represented on the international market. We will talk about other “historical” browsers in this article.

    Hypertext and Hypermedia Ideas, Xanadu Systems and the World Wide Web

    In just 5 minutes you will learn how the World Wide Web was born. Just from an idea. But what! She turned the whole world upside down and a new era has come! The age of information technology!

    Great ideas come when the world needs them (Austin Phelps)


    Every great, and even more so great deed begins with a simple idea. It was this idea that came to the mind of the American sociologist, information technology pioneer Ted Nelson, who back in 1965 proposed the concept and coined the term “hypertext” as a text branching or performing actions on demand.

    Today, of course, most people associate hypertext with web pages on the Internet, but this concept is initially broader. We can also see hypertext in such completely offline things as dictionaries, encyclopedias, literary works, in which there are references to other parts of the text related to the term in question.

    For this reason, the term is also actively used in literary criticism, where hypertext is understood as a form of text organization in which its constituent parts are a system of clearly indicated transitions and links between them. This distinguishes hypertext from classical text, which is characterized by a linear sequence of its parts. As literary works with hypertextuality, we can give the following examples:

    • the novel-lexicon “Khazar Dictionary” by the Serbian writer Milorad Pavic (1984);
    • the philosophical novel “Endless Dead End” by the Russian philosopher Dmitry Galkovsky (1988);
    • novel in the form of an interactive book “The Tree of Codes” by American writer Jonathan Safran Foer (2010).


    The development of the concept of hypertext was the term “hypermedia“, also proposed by Ted Nelson. Hypermedia is an improved version of hypertext, which, in addition to text, also includes graphics, sound, video, and various interactive elements. A well-known example of hypermedia is the World Wide Web (WWW), which is the basis of the modern Internet.

    The above terms were proposed by Ted Nelson while working on the Xanadu Universal Electronic Publishing System and Universal Archive project. Interestingly, the implementation of hypertext in Xanadu differs from the WWW invented in 1991. The individual ideas proposed by Ted Nelson at Xanadu would have rid the Internet of many of today’s problems in the first place. Xanadu involves the creation of a data structure in which all quotes, clippings of information are connected to the original sources with the help of special permissions imposed on the data. Control of observance of copyrights at any size of the citation is provided. For each document, all its versions are stored, it is possible to view any version (this principle, for example, is used today in Wikipedia). From an arbitrary place in a single document, you can refer to a specific place in another document. Thus, the most important feature of Xanadu is the ability to create unbreakable links between objects that will always link to the right information, even if the author has changed the document.

    This feature can be considered not only as an advantage, but also as a disadvantage: the adequate functioning of the system requires the maintenance of a single centralized database, which will avoid errors when moving from document to document. The ubiquitous hypertext system of the World Wide Web (WWW) in use today suggests a different approach. The creator of the WWW concept, Tim Berners-Lee, believed that the true globality and democracy of the Internet is unattainable in the presence of any manifestations of centralization. Therefore, he proposed dispersing such a database around the world, consciously risking getting breaks in links between information sources.

    In 1991, Berners-Lee completes the development of the basis of the World Wide Web – the HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol, hypertext transfer protocol), which made it possible to link documents hosted on one or more computers connected to the Internet. The web made the computer network useful for the first time to the average person, who is not at all interested in computers and communication cables themselves. Initially, the web became a means of very convenient and fast obtaining of arbitrary information (a purely consumer approach). However, later the WWW expanded the possibilities not only of a particular person, but also of groups of people, various communities, companies, completely turning the idea of ​​the possibilities of information exchange. Gradually, the Web became not only a means of obtaining information, but also provided people with convenient means to share their thoughts and ideas, created a single field for joint intellectual activity. The most complete concept of the WWW as a means of information exchange has earned with the advent of social networks.

    In the same 1991, Tim Berners-Lee, along with the WWW system, laid the foundation for the history of browsers – a whole class of programs that were supposed to make using the Internet simple and convenient for the average person.

    First browsers. WorldWideWeb and Nexus

    Few people manage to make at least one revolution in the consciousness of society in their entire lives. Tim Berners-Lee is a unique person. He managed to make two revolutions at once! He not only invented the modern Internet, but, unlike many of his predecessors, gave his brainchild a human face.

    We are talking about a web browser – a program that allowed to use the Internet not only for specialists and scientists, but also for a wide range of people.

    Berners-Lee started developing the web browser in the second half of 1990 while working for CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). Surprisingly, the development of a software product that influenced the entire subsequent history of the development of the Internet took only 2 months! Moreover, the father of the Internet worked on the browser alone until the release of the first public version of the program in August 1991.

    компьютер NeXT

    This speed of development was ensured, according to Berners-Lee himself, primarily due to the platform for which the program was written. The first browser was created on a high-performance (at that time, of course) NeXT computer, which from 1988 to 1990. released by the company of the same name, founded by Steve Jobs after his famous dismissal from Apple.

    Berners-Lee wrote in his autobiography:

    “In fact, I did in a couple of months the work that on other platforms could take years, because in NeXT a lot has already been done before me. There was a program builder that allowed you to quickly create the entire menu of the program, there were all the software components for creating a word processor according to the WYSIWYG principle (“What you see is what you get” = “What you see is what you get” – in other words, text manipulation was provided in such a way same as on paper). All I had to do was add hypertext.”

    The developer offered several options for the name of the new program: The Mine of Information (“Information Mine”), The Information Mesh (“Information Network”). Ultimately, the name WorldWideWeb was chosen. After the release of the first versions, the browser changed its name to Nexus in order to avoid confusion between the name of the technology (“World Wide Web”) and the name of the browser.

    How does the browser work and what opportunities did WorldWideWeb give users?

    The browser allowed displaying web pages using simple style sheets (and you could upload your own), download from the network and open any types of files supported by the NeXT system (among them were sound and video files), view newsgroups. The program has a built-in spell checker. In the early versions of WorldWideWeb, images could only be displayed in separate windows. However, in the future, the program was finalized, and pictures began to be loaded on web pages in a modern form.

    There were no bookmarks in WorldWideWeb in today’s sense. Instead, this mechanism worked: if the link needed to be saved for future use, it was placed on the so-called “user home page” (similar to the modern “start page”). In subsequent versions of the browser, users were able to create several “home pages” (the modern analogy is bookmark folders).

    Already in the first browser, the navigation menu had back and forward buttons (the most clickable buttons in the history of browsers and the Internet), which functioned exactly the same as they do today. When designing the navigation menu, the then-popular “links page” was also taken into account, which was something like a website table of contents (today it is a “sitemap”). The menu had a feature that allowed you to follow the next link in the table of contents without having to go back to the link list itself.

    Today, the functionality of the WorldWideWeb browser may seem too primitive (only text pages, viewing images in separate windows, black and white interface), but at that time it was a huge step towards a great goal – to make information as accessible as possible to people, regardless of their knowledge of technical features of the network.

    Mosaic Browser: combining business with pleasure

    Mosaic is a browser for users that has proven that “the Web can be much cooler than sex.” Its appearance was the beginning of the global Internet craze and the premise of the browser war.

    The WorldWideWeb browser made it possible to humanize the Internet and make it accessible to a person without technical knowledge. The next important step: to make the Web global in the full sense of the word. The creators of the iconic Mosaic browser managed to take this step. The success of the browser was an intuitive interface, stability, ease of installation and cross-platform (Mosaic was the first browser available simultaneously for all operating systems at that time, including Windows, Macintosh and Unix). In addition, Mosaic is the browser that made viewing images on the web in separate windows forever a thing of the past. The developers left only the mode of displaying pictures in the same space as text on web pages.

    Mosaic development began in December 1992 at the National Supercomputing Center (NCSA) in Illinois (USA). The browser grew to the first public version 1.0 in April 1993. During the summer-autumn of the same year, work was completed on porting the browser to all operating systems that existed at that time. By 1995, Mosaic’s share of the browser market had risen to an unrivaled 53% market share.

    What is the secret of success? Indeed, at the time of its appearance, Mosaic had many competitors:

    • Cello (the first browser for Windows),
    • Viola www,
    • MidasWWW and others.

    Many experts noted at that moment that it was not even so much about the obvious advantages of the browser, but about great convenience and ease of use. This phenomenon was very aptly expressed by journalist Harry Wolf in Wired magazine in October 1994:

    “When it comes to popularizing an entirely new paradigm, enjoyment is not just the most important thing. Pleasure is the only success factor. Can’t believe it? Look at Mosaic. Mosaic is a super popular graphical “browser” that allows users to navigate the world of electronic information through a point-and-click interface. Mosaic’s beautiful look and feel encourages users to upload their own documents to the Web, including color photos, sound bites, video clips, and hypertext “links” to other documents. By clicking on the links – just a click, and the document is already on your screen – you can travel in the online world in the ways of your personal whims and intuitions. Mosaic is not the best way to find information. Also, it’s not the most powerful. But by far the most enjoyable, and in the 18 months since its release, Mosaic has brought an unprecedented surge of positive emotions and commercial energy to the Web.”

    первый браузер Mosaic для Mac

    Web browsers such as Mosaic became iconic programs of the 1990s. For the first time they provided the user with a multimedia interface and thus significantly enriched the Internet, which was previously limited only to FTP, Usenet, Gopher applications. Thanks to this, Internet access has quickly expanded beyond academic institutions and industrial research institutes.

    Journalist Bob Metkelf, InfoWorld Magazine, August 1995:

    “In the first generation of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee launched mechanisms such as URLs, the HTTP hypertext transfer protocol, HTML standards, and prototypes of Unix-based web servers and browsers. Few people at the time realized that the Web could be much cooler than Gopher. In the second generation, Mark Andreesen and Eric Bina created Mosaic at the University of Illinois. Several million people suddenly realized that the Web could be much cooler than sex. In the third generation, Andrisen and Bina left the NCSA to develop Netscape…”

    Thus, in addition to the “joy of using the Web,” Mosaic laid down the basic principles for building a graphical interface, on which all modern browsers are based. And 19 years after the release of Mosaic, both Internet Explorer (a direct descendant of Mosaic), and Mozilla Firefox (a descendant of Netscape, which in turn also grew out of Mosaic) and Google Chrome profess all the same principles of user interaction.

    The end of the Mosaic story is associated with the departure of Mark Andreesen from the NCSA, who in 1994 began developing a new independent project, Netscape Communicator. Since then, the popularity of Mosaic has steadily declined and dropped to zero in 1998. In addition to the Netscape project, Spyglass also received a license to develop its own browser based on Mosaic, which, however, did not use a single line of source code for the development of the Spyglass Mosaic project. . But by that time, Microsoft realized the importance of the development of the Internet (until 1995 the company adhered to a pessimistic point of view on this matter) and bought a license from Spyglass for $ 2 million to develop a browser and immediately renamed it Internet Explorer. This event marked the beginning of a new stage in the development of the Web – the first war of browsers. But that’s a completely different story.

    The Beginning of Web Commercialization: The Rise of Netscape

    браузер Netscape 1.22

    Netscape browser 1.22

    The first three years in the history of the development of the World Wide Web were filled with romanticism and great enthusiasm. The people-symbols of that era were both theorists like Tim Berners-Lee, who offered the world the ideas of hypertext, and enthusiastic programmers, who initially had nothing but a head on their shoulders and a great desire to work. But they were able to prove in practice how useful and just kayfovo can be using the Web.

    The latter included Mark Andreessen, a student at the University of Illinois. Prior to graduation, he began working at the National Supercomputing Center, where he developed Mosaic, the first browser to achieve worldwide fame. After his graduation in 1993, Andreessen left the NCSA and moved to California in the then-nascent Silicon Valley area. At that time, it was already clear that the further development of Internet technologies could no longer be based on bare enthusiasm. In order to stay on top, more and more human and financial resources were needed.

    In this sense, a meeting with a well-known investor Jim Clark, the founder of Silicon Graphics, became fateful for Andrissen. During the course of communication with Andreessen, Clark became convinced that the project based on the Mosaic browser has excellent prospects for commercial implementation. Therefore, he proposed to create a company for the development of software for working on the Internet and invest serious money in the development of a new browser. Thus was born Mosaic Communications Corporation, where Andreessen was co-founder and vice president of technology. Soon, due to a conflict over the name of the Mosaic browser with the University of Illinois, the company was renamed Netscape Communications, and the future flagship product was Netscape Navigator.

    The first version of the browser was released in October 1994 and immediately found itself on the crest of the wave of Internet development thanks to advanced functionality and an attractive licensing scheme. It allowed to use the browser for free in case of non-commercial use. Netscape Navigator quickly became the de facto standard among other types of browsers. This is especially true for Windows users. Netscape’s popularity was boosted by a number of reviews of the program in leading computer magazines, as well as the distribution of the new browser by many ISPs to their customers.

    браузер Netscape 4.08

    Netscape browser 4.08

    The key innovation that Netscape brought to users was the display of web pages on the fly. as they are downloaded to your computer. Netscape’s predecessors did not display content on the user’s screen until it was fully loaded. This very often led to the fact that a person was forced to stare at a blank screen for several minutes until text or images appeared on the screen. Netscape, on the other hand, made it possible for people who connected to the Internet through a rather slow dial-up (using a modem over a telephone line) to start reading the text posted on the site, even before the full download of both the text itself and the pictures. This fact alone has allowed Netscape to make the Web even more user friendly to a wide range of users.

    Until the late 1990s, Netscape was the leader among other browser types in implementing new Internet standards. It was in the brainchild of Andrissen that the first to work such familiar technologies today as

    • cookies,
    • frames,
    • automatic configuration of proxy servers,
    • JavaScript.

    As for the share of the browser in the market, then during 1994-1996. Netscape was used by more than half of all Internet users. In its best days (that is, before the start of active competition with Internet Explorer), the browser occupied more than 80% of the market. Interestingly, the popularity of Netscape was so great that in the nineties people called “surfingnetscape” what is today called web surfing.

    At the time, Netscape Communications even began experimenting with a Web-based “Constellation” system. It was supposed to allow users to access and edit their files anywhere in the world, having only access to the network, regardless of which computer and operating system they are using.

    Analysts of the computer industry already then predicted the beginning of a new era of “connected computing”. In their opinion, classical operating systems should have become a thing of the past, since all future applications will run in a web browser window. Note that all this was quite real in the mid-nineties, 15 years before the advent of modern cloud services!

    All this seemed to the Netscape team a great opportunity to become the No. 1 IT company in the very near future, becoming the center of the next generation of computing systems and thus expanding its influence into a wide range of software and related services markets.

    Unfortunately, all these plans of Netscape were not destined to come true, since the events in this whole story further developed according to the scenario “But Baba Yaga is against!”. Baba Yaga in this case was the Microsoft corporation, which was not at all going to cede world domination to competitors.

    First Browser War: Netscape Navigator VS Internet Explorer

    By early 1996, Netscape Navigator’s global market share reached 80%. This stunning success could not fail to notice in Microsoft Corporation. The extreme popularity of Netscape immediately brought to naught all the prejudices about the futility of the Internet that existed then among the employees of the Redmond giant. Microsoft recognized the World Wide Web as a lucrative market that needed to be captured. To achieve this goal, a team of 6 programmers, with the active personal assistance of Bill Gates, began in the summer of 1994 to develop the future malicious competitor of Netscape – Internet Explorer (IE).

    The first version of Internet Explorer was released on August 16, 1995. The product was distributed as part of an add-on package for Windows 95 called Microsoft Plus! The browser was not much different from the original Mosaic. The only advantage of the beginner was the convenient installation process of the program (there was no need to manually configure many browser settings). After 3 months, the second version was released, which already included a multilingual interface (initially 12 languages, later 24, including Russian). The ability to display double-byte character tables (encodings) was also added, thanks to which, for example, Russian-speaking users were able to view web pages in their native language. Unlike Netscape, Internet Explorer 2 was provided free of charge to everyone, including legal entities.

    In general, the first two versions did not make a serious impression on users. Many of them considered Internet Explorer primitive compared to the venerable Netscape.

    However, with the release of the third version of Internet Explorer, the heat began.

    1. In IE 3, Microsoft developers were finally able to equalize the level of functionality with Netscape: JavaScript support also appeared in the Microsoft browser. It was also the first browser to support Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
    2. The interface of the program has changed significantly compared to its predecessors. The buttons have become much larger, the designers have completely updated the icons in the interface. Using the browser has become much more convenient.

    Thus, with the release of the third version of IE, Microsoft slowly but surely began to increase its share of the browser market by falling Netscape. The real competition between the two browsers began, later called the first browser war.

    In September 1997, the fourth version of Internet Explorer was released – the most scandalous in the entire history of the product. Since Windows was already in use on the vast majority of computers when IE4 was released, Microsoft decided to strengthen the integration between the browser and the operating system. When the browser was installed, the traditional “Windows Explorer” was replaced with a web-like version based on Internet Explorer. In addition, users had the opportunity to embed active web content on their desktop instead of classic wallpapers (ActiveDesktop technology). And all this beauty, of course, only worked if IE4 was installed. All of this, plus the difficulty in removing Internet Explorer, landed Microsoft in a courtroom in which the state accused the corporation of abusing its monopoly position in the market. Ultimately, however, Microsoft still managed to get away with it. Moreover, in the new Windows 98, Internet Explorer 4 could be used immediately after the installation of the system and, in principle, could not be removed. This version of IE has also become a landmark in the sense that the concept of hypertext has actively penetrated into Windows. This, for example, led to the widespread appearance of hyperlinks in the system interface and the ability to open files in a hyperlink style (with one mouse click instead of two). As a result, despite all the difficulties, Internet Explorer further strengthened its presence in the market, since almost all users with the installation of the operating system received a browser in addition. A simple question “Why do I need another program if I already have a similar one?” had to bring Netscape to its knees.

    An interesting feature of that time was the embedding of the “Best viewed in Netscape” and “Best viewed in Internet Explorer” buttons on websites. These buttons often even included specific browser versions. This fact symbolized a serious problem in the absence of uniform standards for displaying web pages. Sites could display completely differently in Internet Explorer and Netscape. Clearly, with such fierce competition between Microsoft and Netscape, it would be very difficult to agree on this issue.

    Internet Explorer 5, released in September 1997, was the final nail in Netscape’s coffin. In addition to integrating into Windows 98 SE, Microsoft built a forced installation of its browser into the Office 2000 office suite. In this version, IE for the first time received support for updating part of the data on a web page without completely reloading it. This technology was later called Ajax and is widely used today.

    What was going on with Netscape at that time?

    браузер Netscape Navigator

    Netscape began to work much slower than its competitor (the main advantage of Netscape earlier). The typical web page became much more heavily loaded with images, in most cases using JavaScript. Web pages have also become much more likely to embed HTML tables. From a stable product, Netscape gradually turned into a program with a bunch of bugs. For example, some versions of Netscape completely reloaded the web page when the program window was resized, which caused a lot of problems for both dial-up users and those with limited Internet access. The browser began to hang very often in the presence of the simplest CSS style sheets on websites. Finally, unlike Internet Explorer, Netscape’s interface has not undergone qualitative changes for the better over time.

    By early 1998, Netscape had lost its lead in the Windows browser market. On the Macintosh platform, Netscape also lost ground. Following Windows, Internet Explorer has become the default browser in Apple’s operating system. Finally, Microsoft managed to seize the initiative in the field of introducing its browser among ISP customers. They allowed to create branded versions of the program.

    The history of the classic Netscape ended in March 1998. The developers opened the source codes of the browser, allowing everyone to start implementing their projects based on them. It was at that moment that the Mozilla open source browser project was born, the first version of which was released a few years later. Three more versions of Netscape (5, 6 and 7) were released based on Mozilla, but they could no longer compete on equal terms with Microsoft, whose browser achieved a record market share of 95% in 2002. For Microsoft, this was, of course, a resounding success , however, and he was not eternal. Internet Explorer was not without flaws, which in the following years was successfully used by both Mozilla Firefox and Opera and later Google Chrome, which became key participants in the next generation browser wars.

    Opera browser is a smart alternative to leaders

    In the mid-nineties, when developers were still looking for the best browser interface, in addition to the well-known Netscape and Internet Explorer, alternative programs arose. This article will focus on the most successful alternative to the market leaders – the Opera browser.

    Opera’s history began in 1994 with a research project launched by the Norwegian telecommunications giant Telenor. The company is now known in Ukraine as the creator of the DJuice brand and the owner of a 35% stake in the Kyivstar mobile operator. In August 1995, the research project was spun off into a separate company, Opera Software. The first public version of the browser was released in 1996 under the name MultiTorg Opera. Prior to the release of the third version, Opera was not widely known, but already in the first versions, the developers laid down key advantages: high speed, multi-document interface and a “hotlist” (a prototype of modern tabs). These features were innovative at the time of introduction: there was nothing like it in Internet Explorer or Netscape. It is also important to note that Opera was originally designed to display web pages in accordance with the global standards developed by the W3C.

    During 1997-1998. Opera began to gain popularity due to the fact that the developers gradually brought the third version of the browser to technical parity with the market leaders. Following the competitors, Opera has become cross-platform. During this period, support for JavaScript, Netscape plugins and CSS was added to the program. An interesting fact: the scientist who developed the concept of CSS, Haakon Wium Lee, has been the CTO of Opera Software since 1999. In the late nineties, Opera developers also paid close attention to the growing market for mobile devices, in connection with which support for displaying web pages in WAP and WML standards was added to the Norwegian browser. At the same time, the development of the concept of the Opera Mini mobile browser began.

    браузер Opera 3.62

    In June 2000, the fourth version of Opera was released on the updated Elektra cross-platform engine. Opera 4.0 debuted a built-in email client. In addition, the quartet was the last version to be distributed on a shareware basis.

    Since version 5.0, Opera has been distributed free of charge. The trial period has been replaced with a well-known advertising banner in the upper right corner of the browser. Ads could be disabled by paying the cost of a license. Interestingly, the ICQ client was built into the fifth version of the browser, which was removed very soon due to its unpopularity among users. Also in Opera 5.0, for the first time, support for controlling the program using mouse gestures appeared. For example, the user could go back one page as follows: hold down the right mouse button, move the mouse pointer to the left, and then release the button.

    The sixth version of Opera was released in November 2001 and differed from its predecessors by supporting Unicode encoding for displaying web pages, as well as the ability to use a single-document interface along with the classic multi-document interface. 2001 also marked the first conflict with Microsoft for Opera Software. On October 24, 2001, Microsoft blocked third-party browser users from accessing its MSN.com site. Access to the site was left only for Internet Explorer. However, after 2 days, Microsoft had to remove all restrictions due to pressure from the antitrust authorities. However, until the end of the year, Opera users were still experiencing problems accessing some of MSN.com’s content, despite being technically able to fully interact with the site’s content.

    Opera 7.0, released in January 2003, was based on the groundbreaking Presto engine, which improved browser performance and enhanced CSS functionality. The line of the seventh versions of Opera ended with the alpha testing of Opera 7.6, in which the developers proposed a number of interesting innovations:

    1. added the ability to voice control the browser;
    2. CSS-based “fit to width” technology introduced. Thanks to it, the site displayed on the screen could dynamically expand or contract depending on the resolution of the monitor by changing the size of fonts and scaling images. At low resolutions, individual images could even be removed from the screen to make text easier to read.

    As you can see, already at the initial stage of development, Opera constantly offered users a lot of innovative features that competitors did not have. To be a pioneer in all areas – this principle Opera professed in its further development. Subsequent versions of the browser also left no one indifferent, including Microsoft, which again and again made attempts to stop the dark horse of the Internet. Don’t miss the next article! You will learn many more new and interesting things!

    By the early 2000s, the Opera browser gained quite a lot of popularity. High speed even on slow connections, ease of use, a lot of exclusive goodies, an innovative approach to development attracted more and more people to the side of the Norwegians. At a certain stage, the number of users of Opera grew to a level at which competitors paid attention to the program and began to take measures to combat the upstart.

    Microsoft was the most ruthless in this area, first completely blocking Opera 6 users from MSN, and two years later made two more attempts to force Opera fans out of their sites. The first case is again related to the limited availability of MSN, but this time Microsoft acted more ingeniously by slipping obsolete CSS to Opera. This caused all content to move 30 pixels to the left of the correct location when viewing MSN in Opera, greatly distorting the site’s appearance. Microsoft tried to present the problem as a bug in Opera, but a Norwegian investigation showed that the “bug” was deliberately created by Microsoft employees. In response, a special build of Opera 7.02 Bork Edition was released, which instead of MSN.com displayed a meaningless set of words to the user. The developers explained their action by the desire to draw attention to the need to build harmonious relationships between web developers and browsers. After numerous complaints, Microsoft still configured their sites to display properly in Opera 7. However, all previous versions of Opera still displayed content from Microsoft incorrectly.

    In November 2004, Opera Software sent an email to Microsoft complaining about receiving an incomplete JavaScript file when downloading the Hotmail email service. As a result, Opera users could not clear the Spam folder in their mailboxes. Without waiting for feedback, the Opera developers sent a letter to Microsoft via regular mail. However, Microsoft did not take any action, did not comment on what was happening and did not fix the error.

    Despite all the difficulties, Opera continued to develop, and already in April 2005, the developers introduced the eighth version of the browser. In addition to supporting the display of the SVG vector graphics format directly in the browser, the program interface was simplified: the default start page was made by the developers in the form of a search portal. On the other hand, some of the advanced settings of the browser were hidden, which led to some outflow of users. It is important to note that in version 8.50 the licensing scheme has changed again: in this version, the advertising banner has been removed from Opera. Thus, following the competitors, the browser has become completely free.

    Opera 9 for the first time introduced such new features as widgets (web applications, analogues of plug-ins in competing browsers), a built-in BitTorrent client. In addition, the developers have increased the flexibility of the web search field by allowing users to create their own settings for searching information on the Internet. They also gained the ability to save web pages as MHTML archives: a complete snapshot of a web page, including images and flash elements, in one file. Version 9.2 introduced the now popular “Speed Dial” feature (“speed dial” by analogy with a similar feature in mobile phones). It allows you to display a number of cells with links pre-installed in them instead of a blank page when you open a new tab. Each displays a periodically updated preview of the page being opened. The most important innovation in Opera 9.5 is the Opera Link feature, with which users can synchronize almost all browser settings (bookmarks, passwords, etc.) between different computers. Moreover, with the help of Opera Link, you can synchronize the desktop and mobile versions of Opera with each other.

    The following innovations became the distinctive features of the tenth version of Opera:

    • “Visual bookmarks” – the ability to view a preview of the site directly in the tab without having to hover over it with the mouse.
    • Opera Turbo is a feature that automatically activates when your Internet connection slows down. The browser starts loading data using Opera proxy servers to speed up work. A similar principle is natively built into mobile versions of Opera;
    • spell check directly on web pages when typing;
    • browser auto-refresh;
    • formatting emails in HTML in Opera Mail.

    статистика доли рынка браузеров

    It is also worth noting that, starting with version 9.5, the appearance of each new version of Opera is accompanied by great excitement. For example, on September 1, 2009 (Opera release date 10.00), 10 million downloads of the new browser were recorded per day.

    The most anticipated feature of Opera, which developers stubbornly did not implement, was browser extensions in the classic sense of the word (as in Mozilla Firefox). In Opera 11, this shortcoming was finally eliminated, and the functionality of the browser was significantly supplemented by third-party developers. The second noteworthy innovation of this version was the ability to pin and group tabs. Finally, Opera Link has added password synchronization. A similar function was introduced long before the implementation in Opera by developers of browser plug-ins. The most famous example is the LastPass cross-browser extension.

    On June 14, 2012, the current Opera 12 was released. The only significant change compared to the previous version is full support for 64-bit operating systems.

    Thus, over the years of development, the Opera browser has turned from a modest research project in Norway into a world-famous Internet combine, which, in addition to web surfing itself, provides users with stability, support for all relevant web technologies and many additional features.

    All over the world, Opera is considered a kind of alternative to the recognized top three: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. However, in some regions the popularity of Opera is significantly higher than the world average. If the world average share of Opera does not exceed 2%, then in the CIS countries Opera confidently takes the first or second place in terms of popularity. In particular, in Ukraine, Opera was the leader for 3 years in a row with a peak market share of 44%, losing the palm to Google Chrome only in July 2012.

    The birth of Mozilla Firefox

    After losing the first browser war, Netscape developers open-sourced the program in order to create a worthy successor. The non-profit Mozilla Foundation was assigned responsibility for the new project. In this regard, the approach to browser development has fundamentally changed. From now on, anyone could join the creation of a new program. It was assumed that such an expansion of the circle of developers would make the new product truly “popular”.

    It is important to note that initially it was supposed to create not just a new browser, but a whole set of applications “in one bottle”, including:

    • mail client,
    • newsgroup client,
    • visual HTML editor,
    • IRC client.

    The development of the first version of the package lasted several years. The alpha version of the program was distributed only in narrow circles of programmers. The first stage of writing the source code ended with the creation of a lightweight version of the system, containing only its core – the browser. It included features such as tabs and a separate search bar. Similar functions at that time (2002) were present only in Opera.

    During the creation of a new product, the developers called it m/b (mozilla/browser). With the start of public testing, the program was renamed Phoenix. This name remained until April 2003, when it was abandoned due to a dispute with BIOS manufacturer Phoenix Technologies. The problems arose due to the fact that Phoenix Technologies produced their Phoenix FirstWare Connect browser, which works directly from the BIOS. However, the new name – Firebird – also met with a mixed reaction, since it coincided with the name of the software for database servers. Pressure from the “namesake” developer led to the fact that the program finally received its modern name – Mozilla Firefox (or simply Firefox).

    The name “Firefox” (from the English name of the animal “fire panda“) was chosen because of the consonance with the Firebird, as well as its uniqueness in the history of the development of computer technology. In order not to continue the endless rigmarole with renaming, the Mozilla Foundation in December 2003 registered Firefox as a trademark in the United States.

    Preview versions of Firefox were based on the XUL engine, which initially assumed the ability to connect plugins and themes to the browser. The process of developing and embedding browser add-ons required providing an appropriate level of security for users. In this regard, simultaneously with the release of Firefox 0.9, a special Mozilla Update site was opened, containing “tested” themes and extensions. In February 2004, the consulting company AMS described the newcomer to the market as a Tier 1 open source program. The high level of technical equipment and stability of the browser were noted.

    The first full-fledged version of Firefox was released in November 2004. The release was accompanied by an extensive advertising campaign, which, for example, included a full-page advertising poster in the New York Times.

    браузер Internet Explorer

    Internet Explorer 6 browser

    The main competitor of the newcomer at the time of release was Internet Explorer 6.0 SP1, released earlier in 2003. A feature of this version of IE was support for WPF and XAML development tools, which were supposed to allow developers to create full-featured web applications. However, Microsoft, as usual, tried in every possible way to limit the use of third-party operating systems. In this regard, all new technologies were far from universal. The new applications worked fine only in Internet Explorer and only in Windows operating systems.

    In response, the Mozilla Foundation and Opera Software have joined forces to develop new open web development standards that are backwards compatible with existing technologies. This collaboration resulted in the creation of the Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG). The goal of the new organization was to quickly develop new standards, which were then submitted for approval to the W3C.

    The result of the work done was the release of a number of new versions of browsers by all major market players, which marked a new round of their confrontation.

    Next Generation Browser Wars: Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer

    In October 2006, almost simultaneously, new versions of the leading browsers were released: Internet Explorer 7 and Mozilla Firefox 2.0. What innovations have users received?

    Let’s start with Internet Explorer. The seventh version was the first major update in a five-year period. IE7 became the default browser in Windows Vista and was also offered as an upgrade for Windows XP. Starting with this version, Internet Explorer no longer works with older versions of Windows: NT 4.0, 98, 2000 and Me. As part of the rebranding, Internet Explorer has been renamed to Windows Internet Explorer. Under the hood, there have also been significant changes. The architecture of the program, which includes a site display engine and a security block, has undergone a significant revision. In this regard, Microsoft has reduced the interdependence between the operating system and the browser. Unlike its predecessors, IE itself was no longer used in Windows as a file manager. “Explorer” has become a separate application.

    The most anticipated feature implemented in the Microsoft browser is tabs. Users received ample control options. It became possible to group several simultaneously open web pages, as well as view their thumbnails. Also, following its competitors, Internet Explorer received a separate field for conveniently entering queries into search engines.

    браузер Internet Explorer версия 7, лента новостей RSS

    Microsoft’s new platform for reading news feeds, Windows RSS Reader, debuted in Internet Explorer 7. IE users now have the ability to read RSS and Atom feeds right in their browser. The new tool turned out to be quite flexible. Everyone could customize the schedule for updating news, as well as create their own style of displaying news using CSS.

    As for security issues, the so-called anti-phishing filter was launched in the new version, which made it possible to avoid the use of fraudulent sites. The working mechanism is very simple. There is a public database of malicious web resources, and when you enter any website, a request is made to this database. If the site appears there, then its loading is blocked.

    It is worth noting that since its release, the new Internet Explorer has only worked on Windows systems that have been authenticated by the new Windows Genuine Advantage anti-piracy technology. However, during the year after the release of the program, its market share increased slightly. In this regard, Microsoft decided to let the browser float freely, allowing it to be installed even on hacked systems. However, even such a step did not speed up the process of crowding out old versions by the new IE. Only in the second half of 2008, in some countries, the seventh version overtook the sixth in popularity. Interestingly, it was that period that became a turning point in the process of a general decline in the popularity of the Microsoft browser: in Eastern Europe, IE lost its leadership for the first time, losing it to Firefox. Its new version will be discussed further.

    Mozilla Firefox 2.0 turned out to be much more progressive at the time of release than its main competitor. All the innovations of IE7 were already generally implemented in the first version of Firefox. And, of course, in the second version, the developers introduced a number of new unique features. Thanks to this, as well as a competent PR campaign, more than 2 million people downloaded the new version in the first day.

    Like IE, the new version of Firefox has built-in phishing protection. Initially, it was implemented as a browser extension from Google, and then sewn directly into the program code. The new Firefox is built on the basis of an improved engine – Gecko 1.8.1. In it, developers have improved support for JavaScript, the SVG vector graphics format, and the XML markup language.

    In the second version of Firefox, the program interface received a number of small but useful improvements:

    • if the web page code specifies opening links in a new window, then they open in a new tab by default (previously they opened in a new window, despite the presence of tab functionality);
      added spell check when editing text forms of a web page;
    • Each tab has a button to close it;
    • when reopening the browser after it crashed, the user was able to restore the session;
    • in the field for entering queries for search engines, the ability to display search suggestions has been added (in version 2.0 – only Google and Yahoo!);
    • added a separate manager for searching and managing plugins;
    • the graphic part of the interface has been updated: a new design theme has been developed, new navigation icons have been drawn.

    What is the situation in the browser market in the summer of 2008?

    топ браузеров в Украине, июль 2008 год

    Globally, Internet Explorer was still the leader, being installed by 70% of users. In second place is Firefox, which by that time already occupied more than a quarter of the world market. Interestingly, 2 years after the release of IE7, the obsolete IE6 still held a huge market share (28%).

    It is important to note that by that time there was already a clear trend towards a constant decline in the market share of Internet Explorer due to more nimble competitors in every sense. So, already in July 2008, Firefox managed to become a leader in Eastern Europe, as well as in a number of countries in the Pacific region.

    As for Ukraine, two versions of Internet Explorer took about 20% of the market each, giving the Microsoft browser the lead. The second place is occupied by Opera, which was used by every third Ukrainian web surfer. The third place with a slight lag was taken by Firefox (26%).

    It seemed that the situation was clear and the trends of its development for the future were clear. However, six months later, everything changed with the advent of a fundamentally new participant in the browser wars. It turned the concept of convenient web browsing upside down in no time. Many users simply fell into a state of pleasant shock. ?

    Browser wars of the new generation. New Google Chrome browser

    On September 2, 2008, a new player burst into our list of browsers – Google Chrome. From the very moment of his birth, he was destined to become a fighter, and not only in the browser wars. The fact is that for a long 6 years, Google’s leadership did not support the idea of ​​creating its own browser. The search giant’s chief executive, Eric Schmidt, said at the time that “Google is a small company” and would not stand the test of the “debilitating browser war.” However, when Larry Page and Sergey Brin hired several Mozilla Firefox developers and wrote a Chrome demo, even Schmidt changed his mind.

    The first beta version of the browser immediately became multilingual. Initially, the program was released in 43 languages, which at the time of release exceeded the number of localizations for any of the competitors. The beginner worked on all versions of Windows relevant at that time (XP and later). Chrome almost immediately gained about 1% of the market. However, after the initial surge in popularity, the browser share fell in October 2008 to 0.69%. Google’s brainchild returned its 1% in December and has not fallen below this mark since.

    In early 2009, Google announced plans to release versions of Chrome for Mac OS X and Linux. The first preview versions of the browser for new platforms were released in June of the same year. Chrome has grown to beta status for alternative operating systems by December. At the end of 2009, the market share of Google Chrome rose to 3.6%. From that moment on, the rapid growth in the popularity of the new browser on a global scale began.

    In general, the beginning of 2010 was marked by an important fact. A single version of Mozilla Firefox 3.5 became the most popular browser in the world, narrowly beating Internet Explorer 7 and 8. Thus, IE lost its lead for the first time since the fall of Netscape. However, the reason for this was quite prosaic. Interim leadership was not at all the merit of the developers from the Mozilla Foundation. The fact is that just at that moment the process of updating IE7 to IE8 was actively taking place around the world. Therefore, no later than 2 months later, the eighth version of Internet Explorer came out on top.

    What attracted Google Chrome to its side of users?

    браузер Google Chrome

    A real revelation for many was the minimalistic browser interface. By default, only the URL input line and the Forward, Back, Refresh Page, and Settings buttons were displayed. And that’s it! At first, it is very unusual, but you get into the idea very quickly, because the most important thing – the website – is allocated much more space.

    It is impossible not to note the non-standard address bar. If competitors had a separate field for entering search queries, then Google’s browser did not have it in principle. The information you were looking for could be entered directly into the URL input field. The browser automatically recognized the request and navigated to the search engine. This innovation is called the omnibox.

    The behavior of the browser when opening a new tab also compares favorably with competitors. Instead of predefined URLs (as in Mozilla Firefox and Opera), Chrome displays icons for the most frequently used sites. As practice has shown, this mechanism for generating a new tab page is the most successful. It is enough for the user to wander around his favorite sites for some time, and it is their thumbnails that will be displayed in his new tab.

    In general, Chrome is positioned as a safe, simple and stable program. The above-described interface has become a significant advantage over competitors. Another strength of the beginner is the high speed of work, especially with JavaScript. Immediately after the release of the first versions, several leading sites tested the new browser for the speed of processing scripts. The results exceeded all expectations. Heavy sites opened in Chrome even faster than in Opera, the recognized leader in terms of performance at that time.

    A number of unique innovations have also been introduced in the Chrome security module. Implemented reconciliation of each site with two public blacklists. One of them is a list of phishing sites, the second contains samples of malicious code embedded in scripts on web pages. The browser architecture is based on the multi-process principle. Each site and plugin is allocated to a separate Windows process. This isolation prevents the tabs from interacting with each other, which improves stability and enhances security. For example, if a site freezes on one of the tabs, then the user sees an error message only on this tab and can continue to work with other open sites without hindrance. Also, pop-up windows are always displayed by default within the tab they originated in (new browser windows are not displayed in this case).

    Many users were deterred from switching to Chrome by the lack of plugins. This shortcoming was corrected by the developers in September 2009, when add-on support was added to the browser and at the same time the “Google Chrome Addon Gallery” was launched. At the initial stage, about 300 add-ons were available in it. To date, their number reaches 12 thousand. Starting with the third version, users have been able to modify the program interface using skins, for the distribution of which a specialized web resource has also been launched.

    All these factors have become the key to the success of Google’s browser. Since the second half of 2009, Chrome has steadily gained points in the global market. In November 2011, Firefox was defeated, and already in May 2012, Internet Explorer fell. Today, Chrome is the leader, being installed on every third web surfer. It is quite obvious that growth will continue in the future due to the fact that it is very difficult for competitors to oppose anything to a high-speed browser with a minimalistic interface. Of course, Google’s extensive marketing support for Chrome also plays a role. Installation in a package with other programs, recommendations to use this particular browser on all Google services (including Gmail, YouTube), advertising on TV – this is not a complete list of activities aimed at promoting Chrome.

    Thus, today more and more people prefer Chrome, competitors bite their elbows, and Google has been holding the title of king of the browser market for its product for the fourth month. And the team of Larry Page and Sergey Brin is clearly not going to stop there.

    Overview of the new Yandex browser

    On October 1, 2012, at the Yet Another Conference 2012, a new Yandex browser (aka Yandex.Browser) was introduced, developed by the Russian Internet giant of the same name. We offer you a small overview of the novelty.

    In fairness, we note right away that this is not the first product of this kind that Yandex has released. At various times, the following browsers were available on the company’s website:

    • Chrom. In fact, it was Google Chrome in its purest form, but with pre-installed extensions from Yandex.
    • Yandex.Internet. A browser based on the Chromium project (similar to Google Chrome, but not tied to Google services) with closer integration with Yandex services.

    In addition to WebKit-based browsers (Chromium and Google Chrome engine), Yandex has also been offering to download from its site for quite some time all the main browsers “finished” for their own services. So, for example, the special version of Opera comes with a very handy sidebar. From it you can access a variety of information provided by Yandex (news, photos, maps, etc.).

    And so, in the fall of 2012, Yandex introduces a new browser.

    How does it compare favorably with previous developments of the company itself and from competitors?

    импорт настроек из Google Chrome в Яндекс.БраузерDownload the browser from the official site, run the installation file. During the installation process, 99% of users will be offered a nice little thing – importing all settings, bookmarks and passwords into a new browser. The idea is not new, all this has long been implemented by competitors. For example, I use Google Chrome as my main browser. And since browsers are built on the same engine and extensions from the Google browser should also work in a beginner (more on this below), it is technically possible to transfer all settings to Yandex 100%. In fact, the bookmarks and passwords were imported completely, but the extensions were untouched. As it turned out after 5 minutes of working with Yandex, the Russian developers obviously decided not to integrate their offspring with the Google Chrome Addon Gallery. Nowhere in the interface is there any hint that extensions are supported. This will automatically alienate a part of potential users who are accustomed to addons from a beginner. The most obvious example is ad-blocking add-ons for web pages. However, nothing prevents you from just going to that very add-on gallery manually by simply entering the URL into the address bar. And then install all the same extensions that you are used to when using Chrome.

    Title в яндекс браузереAs for the interface, it is, of course, very similar to Chromium in general. In a word, just as minimalistic, with an omnibox that everyone loves. But it is worth paying attention to quite obvious chips that pop up immediately after you start using the program. A never-before-seen way of displaying information in the address bar catches the eye right off the bat. The user sees the domain name of the site up to the first slash, and then not a set of letters and numbers or, at best, CNC, but simply the title of the page taken from the TITLE tag. The URL is restored with a single mouse click on the address bar. Original? Quite. We haven’t really seen this yet. Unusually, but after a while you realize that there is something in this. Due to the presence of the page title in the address bar, the thought immediately arises that there is a duplication of information here. After all, the same TITLE sits in the title of the tab. Immediately there is a field for maneuver: the title of the tab can be used somehow more cleverly. Interestingly, Yandex developers also think so??

    табло в Яндекс браузере

    Each time you open a new tab, another innovation pops up – the so-called “Scoreboard“. It is essentially very similar to the page with screenshots of the most frequently viewed sites in Google Chrome. But the differences are also significant:

    • The scoreboard is much more compact than Chrome’s New Tab page.
    • Unlike the king of browsers, Yandex’s scoreboard does not display thumbnails of websites. The maximum that you will see is the website logo.
    • In a cell for a particular site, not only its logo can be displayed, but also various notifications from this site (if supported). For example, when I first clicked on a cell, Yandex suggested that I turn on indicators for the number of new messages and new events in the social network.

    I must say that the appearance of the scoreboard on half-screen every time you open a new tab is somewhat annoying. In Google Chrome, after all, it is essentially the same, but there it is the main function of the new tab page – it is clearly clear what’s what. Here, the scoreboard leaves as a kind of auxiliary function hanging over an empty page. Immediately there is a desire to close this thing. For the evening I could not get used to it.

    And finally, a few more comments in blitz mode:

    • By default, a completely useless “I” button is displayed to the left of the address bar, clicking on which leads to the Yandex home page. I understand that the browser is branded, but it seems to me that the step is not justified. It’s good that the button can be disabled in the settings.
    • Unlike Google Chrome, the “Settings” button is placed in the window header, next to the standard “Minimize” / “Maximize” / “Close” window buttons. The TeamViewer program (“Demonstration of the current window”) also takes out its button there. As a result, if I don’t close the team, then it will be very difficult for me to enter the settings of the new browser.
    • The bookmarks bar is exactly the same as in Chrome.
    • The structure of the settings section is 100% identical to the competitor from Google, with the exception of setting up chips from Yandex (for example, setting the “Scoreboard” function).

    What do we have in the dry residue? I saw only one interesting feature – this is the display of the page title in the address bar. And that decision may not be to everyone’s liking. In all other respects, it turned out to be another clone of Google Chrome, and with a couple of functions that are still clearly raw and not thought out to the end. This is indirectly confirmed by Yandex itself, whose representatives said that the browser is still under development. And it was necessary at some point to pause and present the results of their work to the public. Among the features announced for the near future, the Turbo feature known to Opera users is of the greatest interest. The developers of the Norwegian browser are currently negotiating the integration of Turbo into the Yandex browser.

    Thus, the likelihood of any significant growth in the popularity of Yandex seems very doubtful at the moment. This is explained by the still high level of dampness of the new browser. But we will wait for pleasant surprises from the developers. Fortunately, the Yandex team knows how to pleasantly surprise their supporters.

    Author: Alexander Kashchavtsev

    5/5 - (6 votes)