Why are browsers so bad after 26 years?

After two and a half decades, browsers should be solid. Instead, they're like beta software.

Why are browsers so bad after 26 years?

We all live in a browser if we use the internet. You're in one right now if you're reading this. And it's not a new piece of software. Sir Tim Berners-Lee first introduced us to the Mosaic browser in 1990. And despite 26 years of development, the browser remains the worst piece of software we use on a daily basis.

Broke. Buggy. Bloated. Hogging memory. Crash-prone. Susceptible to malware. Lousy HTML rendering. I could go on and on with a litany of poorly constructed sentences describing the current state of browsers, but you get the idea. 

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Browsers aren't just for watching YouTube videos or visiting news sites, either. With the on-demand world of SaaS, browsers are the portal into important line-of-business software, even if the high priest of SaaS, Marc Benioff, hates that word. 

Browsers need to be solid. Instead, they are all broken to one degree or another. Consider the following: 

Internet Explorer 11: It’s the most targeted browser for malware. It has no third-party plug-in market like Firefox and Mozilla. And it often performs poorly on benchmarks and rendering tests.

Edge: This browser didn't have extensions until the Anniversary update, and the choice is very limited. 

Firefox: This is a memory pig that frequently sucks up all the RAM in my 16GB system. It doesn't load images well, and it is prone to crashing or slowing down. 

Chrome: This browser can't do vertical tabs to save its life. It was also a memory hog until recently, and it frequently does not load and render pages right, forcing me to hit F5 more than once. 

Currently I use Firefox for one reason: vertical tab stacking. Once you try it, you can't go back. You can have 30 tabs open, and every title is readable. In horizontal sacking, they get so crowded you can't read the title of the tab any more. There is a fantastic extension called Tree Style Tab that works wonders.

Chrome’s problems 

Google, which you would think would have more smart people than the modest Mozilla Foundation (no offense guys, it's all about relative scale), has given up on ever getting vertical tabs to work in Chrome. I find that incredible. One guy in Japan can get it working on Firefox, but all of Google's resources can't make it work on Chrome? 

Chrome has another problem. It frequently fails to render a page properly. It will load it, and it's an unreadable mess. I have to hit the F5 button at least once and sometimes more before the page properly renders. 

And I don't know where the fault lies here, but Tweetdeck on Chrome is broken for me and has been for some time. As you know, Google ended support for Tweetdeck as a stand-alone app, shifting to a plug-in for Chrome only. Well, if I leave Tweetdeck running for a few hours and come back, it's locked up. I have to close the tab and restart it. 

Issues with Firefox

But Firefox is far from ideal. As I said above, it's a memory hog. This is especially true if my machine has been running for days and I have not restarted the browser. I'll watch the Wise Memory Optimizer slowly (and sometimes quickly) jump from 50 percent memory used to 70 percent in no time. So, I'll shut down the browser, click optimize memory, and I'm back to 35 percent used memory. 

Firefox also can be dog slow at loading pages, and it doesn't always load images. Or it doesn't handle slideshows very well. For whatever reason, it has a real problem with graphics. 

Annoyances with IE 

I have not considered IE 11 because of its lack of plugins, and since I use Windows 7, Edge is out of the question. IE also has a real annoying habit of sorting your folders of bookmarks alphabetically, rather than letting you sort them the way you want. 

Despite the fact that HTML is a relatively mature and simple language, it's amazing how differently some pages will behave. I've lost count of the number of times I've had to load a page in all three browsers, just to see if it works. 

There are alternatives, such as Vivaldi and Brave, but most (including those two) are based on Chromium, so I'd just be getting a Chrome browser with a different UI.

There's really no excuse for it. Browsers need to be better software, period. They need to be more secure, more stable and do a better job at rendering pages. And if Microsoft and Google can't get it right, who can?

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