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Brett Nordquist (Customer Experience Engineer)

In Search of the Best Browser

Written on August 10, 2015 by Brett Nordquist

I have a love/hate relationship with browsers. And by browsers I mean Google Chrome.

There's not another program on my computer I use more than Chrome. I live in Chrome. But it also frustrates me more than any other program. A few years ago I would have launched a dozen separate programs in order to do my work. Today, every tool I need at Puget Systems, with the exception of a VOIP program, is rendered through Chrome. So when Chrome gives me problems it affects a lot more than just browsing Facebook or Reddit.

With the arrival of Windows 10, I decided that it might be a good time to inventory the programs I use each day, starting with my choice in browser. Was Chrome still the best out there or had a competitor surpassed it?

Windows 10 includes a new, basic browser called Edge. If you use a touchscreen you might appreciate the ability to markup webpages with notes and share them.  Microsoft appears to be taking a different approach with Edge than it did with IE. Instead of competing with Chrome or Firefox in features arm race, Edge includes the basics in an easy-to-understand package. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked. But the lack of extension support keeps it from being the browser I use each day. I continued my search.

Microsoft really wants Edge to be your only browser.

Google released a beta version of Chrome back in September of 2008. After years of using a combination of Internet Explorer and Firefox, Chrome brought a sleek, screamer of a browser to the game, and I loved it. It made IE and Firefox feel like sluggish memory hogs. Chrome has served my needs quite well over the years.

But Chrome began acting up almost immediately after I installed Windows 10. Chrome wouldn't shut down without having to kill a process or two. Videos on ESPN would stutter or simply refuse to play. Sometimes an open tab would go rogue and give iTunes a run for its money in memory usage. I run a few extensions, and will admit the problem could originate with one of them. I tried disabling, even uninstalling them one by one. But the issues persisted.

So two weeks ago, I installed Firefox. I then uninstalled Chrome to force myself to give Firefox an honest shot. I installed a few of my favorite extensions: 1Password, Dictionary, FireGestures, Shortly and uBlock. I then fought with Windows 10 for a while because it wouldn't allow Firefox to set itself as my default browser. I began to wonder if I had unknowingly agreed to use Edge as part of the free Windows 10 upgrade agreement. After some cursing and a reboot, I finally got it working like I wanted.

And I really couldn't be any happier. I'm currently running Firefox version 39.0.3 and it's been rock solid. Yes, it does use a little more memory than Chrome did, but I have 16GB installed on my Serenity so that's not an issue. I haven't had single tab go rogue on me yet. Videos from YouTube, Netflix, and HBO Go run smoothly. Spotify streams my music without a hitch. And all the tools I use for my job work beautifully. The only feature I really miss with Chrome is the instant search results from the omnibox. I haven't found an extension that duplicates that feature, and I miss it.

But stability is paramount. I'm no longer willing to trade reliability for a little more speed. Chrome, we had a good run, but it's time to move on.

If you're installing Windows 10, give Edge a try. It may meet your needs. But if you've made it this far, I'll bet you demand more features than what Edge offers today. If you've been running Chrome for many years, it might be worth taking Firefox for a test run.

What browser do you run today, and what are your favorite extensions?

Tags: Microsoft, Windows 10, Edge, Google Chrome, Firefox

Chrome crashes on me several times a week. It did this both in windows 8 and on a different computer on Windows 10. I will be switching soon if I can. I enjoy Firefox and have never had an issue with stability. I also enjoy Edge if I am just popping on to look something up really quick. It is fast and clean.

Posted on 2015-08-11 00:21:20

For people who just need a clean browser minus extensions, I think Edge is a great option. I'm of the opinion that the more extensions a person adds, the less stable the browser becomes.

Posted on 2015-08-11 17:37:28

5 month later side note, for whatever reason the Chrome crashes have stopped. I started using it again as such.

Posted on 2016-01-06 23:23:15

I've never tried Chrome since I can't stand Google.
I normally use an old version of Opera for everything. Either Opera 10.x or 11.x. I had issues with 12.x
I'll try Edge once I ever get a new computer.
I'll try Edge once I ever get a new computer.
I'll try Edge once I ever get a new computer.

Posted on 2015-08-11 17:48:03

I really liked Opera back on version 8 and 9, but then they tried to do too much with Unity and lost focus. The Opera team had the right idea though in building a solid, fast browser, but some pages still refused to render properly. Users are definitely better off when we have more choices. I hope we don't get to the point where we have only one or two choices.

Posted on 2015-08-11 18:21:09

Odd that you've had trouble with Chrome after installing Windows 10. I have not had any such issues. I did used to have Chrome crash on me maybe once or twice a week at work, but only after leaving it running for days without rebooting or even restarting the browser (and with lots of tabs, etc). It never gives me trouble at home, so I figured it might be that I have "only" 8GB of memory at the office. But what you described? I haven't seen that, personally, on Windows 7, 8.1, or 10.

Posted on 2015-08-12 05:52:58

I just upgraded to Win 10 and have been trying Edge. It feels snappier than IE 11, but the lack of extension support means that I have to use IE 11 for LastPass . I hope MS fixes this. The other thing that bugs me a bit about Edge, is the removal of many of the advanced options we had with IE 11. I think MS has made things a little too bare bones in Edge, so far. Edge does seem to be pretty stable, though.

I really like Fire Fox. I think it has better color management than IE or Edge, and for me as a photographer, good color is paramount. It's also very stable under Win 10.

Chrome wasn't for me. No real stability issues under Win 7: I just didn't like the way it felt.

If we take stability out of the equation, I think it boils down to the features we would like to see and more subjectively, the look and feel of the software. I think it's a good thing that we do have choices, and I think Fire Fox and Edge are step in the right direction.

Posted on 2015-08-12 15:28:33

More choice is always good :)

Posted on 2015-08-12 16:06:35

I really like Firefox so far. It feels just as fast as Chrome, but is FAR more stable on Windows 10 than Chrome was. I know Chrome runs fine for many people so it's probably something with my setup. I don't know. But about 3 weeks into Firefox and I think I've found a browser I'll stick with for a while. In the past, I would test Firefox, IE, Safari or Opera and return to Chrome within a few days. But I've found a winner with Firefox, at least on Windows 10.

Posted on 2015-08-18 20:15:35

I've had issues with Chrome 32-bit on Windows 8, 8.1, and 10, but 64-bit Chrome on Windows 10 has been as good as it was on Windows 8.1 for me. No stability or speed issues. The only thing it doesn't play smoothly for me is the opening "little planet" intro to my panorama here: http://www.aaronpriestphoto... But Firefox won't render it smoothly either. Edge and IE 11 will, but Edge can't play any stereo music for me, only muddled, mono audio for some reason.

Posted on 2015-09-01 18:44:17
Mike J Sando

This is interesting as I was a longtime Firefox user on Windows 7 until its memory-hogging problems left me no choice but to give Chrome another try. I switched to Chrome and liked the faster experience enough to stick with it. I converted to Windows 10 in the last few weeks and was not having any trouble with Chrome. At present, my machine is getting fixed after I had the bad luck of the recent PNW power outages occurring during a software install and during subsequent reboot attempts. I'm now having a fresh install of Windows 10 on this machine, and we'll see how the Chrome experience goes.

Posted on 2015-09-02 18:38:15
Wilson Chau

Hi Mike! I didn't realize you were one of our clients! Been reading your blog posts and articles for a long time. In any case, I'm a long time FireFox users and still am. However, recently I've had issues with Flash and Firefox with it constantly crashing. I was about to give up on it and move to Chrome, until I as pointing out by another one of our clients to check out WaterFox. It's built on Firefox, but it looks like they have optimized it for a better experience. So far, it's been working great.. certainly better than FireFox. I do occasionly get some hiccup, but it's by far fewer than it was with Firefox.

Posted on 2015-09-02 21:48:27

+1 for Waterfox. Using it on all my PC's and it has never crashed. A true 64-bit browser that uses your FF profile. I think the main dev on it is trying to get it all switched over to a new compiler, as the current one is the culprit for FF crashes. It seems all my browsers on mobile devices are all crash-prone, mostly because of all the crap many websites serve up.

Posted on 2015-09-02 23:11:55
Wilson Chau

Hmm...that's very interesting information. I've been happy with WaterFox as I didn't particular want to move over to Chrome. Some of the guys here really like Chrome though. No one seems to particularly like IE. I've used Edge browser some and it's seems OK, but I always default back to WaterFox.

Posted on 2015-09-03 00:22:16
Mike J Sando

Hi Wilson. Thanks for the tip. I'm going to try that. It's kind of fun starting over with a clean drive and new OS. Just grateful the power outage struck before the season! I've be bought three machines from Puget Systems with great results. This one was made in 2009 and is still 10 times better than anything at a big-box store today. The only thing I had to replace was a fan after the machine ran for three years almost continuously. And then now the OS issue cropped up only after multiple power outages during reboot and during a software install. Hard to beat that.

Posted on 2015-09-02 23:45:47
Wilson Chau

Another one of your ESPN colleague has purchased a few systems from us as well too. Small world! I just went in the back to check up on your system repair. Looks like Scott has Windows 10 installed on it and a clean install should help clear things up. In any case, if you are ever in the market for a new machine, shoot me an email. The other consultants you were worked with aren't much of a sports fan so didn't know who you were! I only found out because you posted on this blog. :-)

Posted on 2015-09-03 00:32:18
Mike J Sando

I referred JC to you!

Posted on 2015-09-03 00:38:49
Mike J Sando

And will do on the order. Looking forward to my next system at some point.

Posted on 2015-09-03 00:41:23
Jenny Stephen

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Posted on 2015-09-04 05:58:13

I used Firefox for a few years and liked it - except for the way it handles bookmarks. That just became too frustrating, so I moved on. I try to avoid using anything Google because of the way they snoop, spy, track, and trace everything we do, but Chrome is not the only Chromium based browser. Chromium is open source software, so there are several Chromium based browsers besides Chrome. I am currently using Chromodo (https://www.comodo.com/home... with Windows 7.

Posted on 2015-12-27 18:21:39