Why is a ... and fan of Elvis, Bruce ... Bob Dylanand roots rock and roll being so effusive about ... I'm not talking about opera music here, nor the Phantom of the Opera
Why is a singer-songwriter and fan of Elvis, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and roots rock and roll being so effusive about Opera?
Well I'm not talking about opera music here, nor the Phantom of the Opera. I am talking about Opera - the third most popular browser on the internet.
What is a Browser?
This is a software product which allows one to surf the world wide web and also receive and send email and use other software applications such as instant messaging. Microsoft's Internet Explorer is the most commonly used browser and Netscape is second. AOL has it's own browser which is actually a version of Netscape which they now own.
Most cyber surfers are quite unaware that they have an option beyond these two. Microsoft and AOL are able to monopolize the internet in this fashion. But there are choices. In this article I am going to review a few points of the available browsers.
Internet Explorer - If there is any way that I can get away from IE then I am open to it. It is enough that Microsoft monopolizes the internet with their Windows Operating System, it is a bit much that I have to also use their browser. This having been said, there are certain very positive features that make Internet Explorer quite efficient. Thumbs Up - 1. If you are needing to fill out a lot of forms or enter your password many times as in checking email,etc. then IE is extremely user friendly. It will actually recall your user id and other information that you have entered into specific data entry slots before so you can avoid having to re submit the info again and again. It also is the only browser that I have found that works with a software product called Gator which will recall your user id, password and personal info, including credit card info and pops up with the correct info every time that you visit that same site where you submitted that info before. 2. You can drag links to the browser tool bar and others are adaptable to be included there for instance, Yahoo Instant Messenger and Yahoo Companion( with access to all the cool Yahoo channels ), MSN Messenger and other software products integrate directly into your browser screen and are accessible. What is also good is that you can remove them and also choose which of the various bars you want to see on your screen and which you don't. Thumbs Down - 1. It can be quite slow to load and even more so if you add more features into your tool bars. 2. It can crash often. 3. It is often targetted by hackers.
There used to be many Netscape fanatics. In fact, it predates Internet Explorer and many people were quite loyal to it. Within the last couple of years though it was co-opted and corrupted by AOL who now own Netscape. AOL has done such a thorough job of messing it up that it is receiving very negative reviews in every case that I have seen. A friend who used to love Netscape wrote a blistering review of it and it was all true. She stated that it looked like "Internet Explorer in a clown outfit". It crashes, it takes a long time to load if you can get it to load at all, it is slow, etc. Avoid Netscape 6.0
Netscape 4.73, the previous version is a much better product and you may like certain features that are not in IE such as the integrated html editor, the integrated email features and more.
Neoplanet - Thumb sort of in the middle.
This is actually IE in disguise again. The difference between this and IE is that you can choose how it appears, you can choose to add or subtract certain tabs not available in IE and you can integrate an email account into it. On the other hand, you cannot drag software products onto its tool bar as you can with IE. So, it is prettier than IE and in some ways more functional, and in some ways less functional. This is just a matter of preferance.
Now we get to the exciting part -
Enigma - Thumbs UP - This is a very lightweight browser that will download in a couple of minutes. It will provide you a no frills and far more rapid access to the internet than IE will. It has integrated email with your email server be it Outlook Express, Hotmail (both Microsoft products) or Eudora or any other email client and has the basic features, bookmarked favorite sites, etc as in IE. Thumbs Down - Not as sophisticated or multi functional as IE, BUT it gets you out of the yolk of having to use Microsoft and it is the fastest of all the browsers I have tested by far. The name - it is far from an Enigma, I would say that Netscape 6.0 is much more of an enigma.
Opera - Big Thumb Way Up! This is the third most popular browser behind IE and Netscape. There is even an "Opera for Dummies" book. A sure sign that you have made it in this modern sophisticated time period of history is if they write a "for dummies" book about your product. Then you made the big time! :)
This is strictly a browser that is excellent for research and for pure fun - it is full of many preset links to web sites under just about any topic. For instance, if you go to "lifestyles" under the bookmarks tab it will take you to 35 different sites on subject as diverse as cooking, gardening to sites for parents and for senior citizens, etc. Then you can go to its sub headings, for instance "travel" which has about 35 sites on weather in different regions, access to hotel and airfare arrangements,etc. Or you can go to the "computers" subheading and find links to sites with names like "how the internet came to be", "how to fight spam", "cool site of the day", "search engine tutorials" etc and then subheadings to several key categories such as the technology of HTML (the code used to design web sites) and anti virus software. I could go on. Additionally, there are all sorts of features on how you can customize what you are viewing to your own preferences, none of these options are available in other browsers. Email is integrated nicely and you can import favorites from IE or from Netscape.
I would like to point out that the difference between a wonderfully user friendly and helpful browser like Opera and the arrogance of AOL is that with Opera you are given access to tons of web sites right from your browser window that provide you with excellent information for whatever subject you may be interested in. AOL on the other hand co-opts the internet into its own "channels" which are less informative, less helpful and which are presented in such a way as to make you less likely to become more interested in the subject. Not to mention that it is arrogance beyond belief to try to sell customers that AOL is the internet when it is a very diluted, very inferior alteration of what is available if you use a product like Opera. AOL may have limited use for someone who is just a dabbler at the internet and wants everything presented to them in bite size portions. It is like Internet lite or maybe a TV dinner version of the internet. Aside from the fact that AOL is inferior in quality and features as regards its email and connectivity and many other things that you would use the internet for.
Thumb down - Does not have the ability to integrate other software products and remember passwords, etc as does IE. Tends to be a bit slow so far in my usage. There are two versions - one is free but has a big ad banner in the tool bar and the other is $39.
These are the key players in the WWW Browser game. What I do is I use IE when I am doing something where I will need to fill out a lot of forms, I use Opera for doing research and I use Enigma when I need to fly through many pages rapidly. This is the best combination I have been able to develop. Maybe someday someone will come up with a single browser that serves all purposes. Hopefully it will not be Microsoft.