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Browser Guide: Choosing The Best Standard For Business

Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and more have new releases out or on the way soon -- the browser wars are raging once again. Here's a guide to the features and capabilities of each to help you identify the right one for your business.

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Slideshow: Top 10 Software Stories Of 2010

The browser wars are back, and are now more competitive than ever. Along with Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) and Mozilla's Firefox, there are Google Chrome, Apple Safari, and Opera's namesake browser, all of which are working to push the envelope and provide a fast and intuitive environment for using the Web.

Of course some may be thinking, who cares, it's just a Web browser. But in many ways the browser has become more important to the current generation of computing than the operating system itself. For many people, most of the applications, tools, and services that they use on a daily basis are delivered through a browser, not the desktop or the operating system.

This means that as a business, you need to give serious thought to which browsers your employees and partners are using, whether these browsers provide all the capabilities needed to use the next generation of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud applications, and whether it makes sense to standardize on one or two browsers for your company use.

Next generation technologies such as Ajax, rich Internet applications (RIAs), and the forthcoming HTML 5 standard have made it possible to create Web-based applications that have all of the same richness, interactivity, and capabilities of desktop applications, but can be delivered easily and with no worries about what operating system the end user is running.

In many ways, the browser is the main gateway to nearly everything that a modern user does today and the choice of Web browser is key for both individual users and businesses. And while the push towards better standards support across modern browsers means that most sites and applications will run across the majority of current browser versions, that doesn't mean that there aren't key differences among the major players.

From performance to interface to the ability to extend a browser with add-ons, all of the major browsers have different strengths and weaknesses. Luckily, since they are all free and can be easily downloaded and installed, it's a simple matter to try out the various browsers and find the one that is most suitable for your personal and business use.

So which of today's browsers (and tomorrow's) offer the best mix of features, performance, and stability for enterprise users today? In this report we'll take a look at the current and future state of each of the major browser players, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and look to see what the future holds for the Web browser.

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