Art by Leah Asinovski
Art by Leah Asinovski

Why Your Web Browser Sucks

Web browsers have always been a major part of people’s online lives, but the question of which browser to use has sparked numerous debates between users. The most popular of these seems to be Chrome, with a huge cult following, but other popular browsers such as Edge and Firefox aren’t far behind. Yet these alternative browsers are not as well liked, and their users face a lot of backlash for just using them. I was one of these users, and originally set out to prove Edge was actually superior to Chrome. However, due to a poll I recently sent out, I have come to a new conclusion: neither Chrome nor Edge are actually as good as they seem. In fact, I’ve realized we should try to go for alternative solutions. 

For a long time, Chrome has been the reigning Browser Supreme. In fact, according to the form I sent earlier this season, almost 70% of HSMSE students surveyed use Chrome. The others don’t even come close. 6 percent of the students surveyed use Safari, 8 percent use Opera GX, and only two people polled use Microsoft Edge. Most people reacted positively, with over 75% saying Chrome was satisfactory, and almost all the rest not minding it. Chrome users named many benefits: from its simplicity and easy usage; to the fact that all of our school systems (e.g. Google Docs, Google Classroom, etc.) run on Google; to the visual aesthetics of its home page; and to mob mentality telling people Chrome is God and Edge is but a peasant compared to it. I understand where they are coming from. Some people prefer the sleekness of the Google homepage (personally it’s not for me), and Google Docs and Google Classroom are staples of school work life. The convenience of having all your school resources available from there also is pretty neat. 

In recent years, though, Chrome’s services have gotten much worse. For example, Chrome is known to store data (e.g. web searches), which helps them target ads on your search results, as well Google’s other applications, such as Gmail and YouTube. Not only that, but according to an article by Zak Doffman, “Chrome says it links all harvested data to devices and individuals.” So if that data were, say, to be leaked, then that could cause a whole catastrophe for Chrome’s users, as now people could put a name to the data, leaving more users in jeopardy. And, as you probably could guess by now, that’s exactly what happened. For example, in March 2018, half of a million Google+ users had their private information leaked to the public. Google+ has since been shut down. Nevertheless, you know the old saying: If something happens on the Internet, it can never be erased. 

Another major problem with Google is its ad policies. When reading the responses to the form, something that was brought to my attention was Google’s recent actions to remove ad blockers. To most people in the school community, advertisements are a nuisance, and ad blockers are pretty much the only way to get around them. With Google now removing ad blockers, students and teachers are now removed from the singular factor that so easily streamlines work and outside lives. The users, surprisingly, aren’t the only ones losing the services that help make their daily lives run smoothly. Advertisers are also getting cheated out of possible business by Google. A recent lawsuit was filed against Google because of how it monopolizes its advertising services. This monopoly allows Google to overcharge for its services, which for some companies may be too much to handle, losing them customers and money while Google just gets richer and richer. 

If we shouldn’t use Chrome, what else is there? Microsoft Edge was my original idea. It was created as Microsoft’s attempt to create a competitor to Chrome (strange, as it does have a reputation as giving off old vibes). Edge, however, received more negative responses than Chrome in the poll. Almost half of the responses were negative, and most of the rest were neutral. A lot of people said it was confusing and cluttered; frustrating due to its inability to be uninstalled; Bing Search Results were inferior; and mob mentality informing people about the “evilness” of Edge. I was unaware of Edge’s inability to be uninstalled on computers, and if you’re someone who isn’t used to Edge, that could be pretty annoying. The quality of Bing vs Google, the respective search engines on Edge and Chrome, are pretty well known, as they run on different analyzation systems. I’ve heard it described in an article that Google is “focused on figuring out what users are really looking for”, while Bing “often returns the results that users actually need for basic information.” Personally, while the home page for Edge does look a bit complex, I actually kind of like it, although I’m probably in the minority. Plus, for someone who isn’t that mainstream when it comes to modern life, Edge’s home page can be considered a constant (if not reliable) source of news for me. 

However, although I initially believed otherwise, Edge does actually fall back when talking about its downsides. Even though Microsoft does have its own versions of resources like Google Docs, Google Slides and Google Classroom, apps such as Word and PowerPoint have gotten less popular over the years (and we don’t talk about Microsoft Teams). These were actually created way before Google Docs and Slides, so they do look clunky compared to Google, hence the reputation for looking old. Also, Edge isn’t even the first browser that Microsoft has made — that honor goes to Internet Explorer, which Edge has been compared to as a worse version of. I’ve never tried Internet Explorer, but I’ve seen screenshots of its Home Screen, and it does actually just look like a clunkier version of Edge, so I do understand what they’re getting at. Additionally, some people cite that Edge is incredibly slow, which I can validate. Sometimes my computer just freezes while using Edge, and that gets really annoying. Edge does just prove to be more difficult to use, and I needed to search for yet another answer to my original question.

So now, you may ask, what alternatives are there if not the two biggest browsers? While going through the responses, I saw two browsers pop up multiple times: Opera GX and Safari. Opera GX has been praised multiple times for its ability to control the amount of RAM it uses. For example, this helps quite a lot when it comes to people who like to look stuff up while playing games. Google and Edge, however, cause games that you’re playing to lag quite hard if they’re open at the same time as your browser. Opera GX also has a customizable interface, integration to numerous helpful apps like Spotify and Discord, as well as a built-in VPN. Safari, the other browser occasionally mentioned, is quite easy to access as it is the built-in browser for most iPhones and other Apple devices. It has a pretty sleek interface, it crashes less, and it is really simple and accessible. I use it on my phone, and personally, I’ve never had any problems with it. It always runs pretty smoothly.   

Now that we’ve gone through four different browsers and examined the pros and cons of each, it begs the question: which browser is best? Maybe you now prefer the smooth running and integration of Opera GX. Maybe you prefer the simplicity and easiness of Safari. Maybe nothing’s changed and you still prefer the majority’s favorites Chrome and Edge, even if they might value their money over your privacy. But with all the benefits of each browser comes its own downsides, and even with the best browsers, everyone still has complaints. Maybe there is no such thing as a perfect browser. Who knows? Maybe someone out there, someone who knows how to balance all the benefits out with none of the negatives, maybe someone out there could make a browser that everyone just loved. And maybe, just maybe, that someone should probably be me. 

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