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The New Browser Wars – Updated

What’s your favorite web browser? If you work in a hospital library, most likely it is Internet Explorer 6.  Oh wait – I said FAVORITE web browser.  According to Net Applications, Internet Explorer is still the top dog at 59.26% of market share as of October 2010.  Firefox came in second with 22.82% and Chrome is third with 8.47%.

After we count the top three and to round it out, Safari (4th) is at 5.33% and Opera is holding on to 5th place at 2.28%.  It’s been a while since there were any new browsers to join the fight for ultimate web supremacy.  Google’s Chrome was the last big contender.  It has increased in users steadily, but is still below 10%.  (Anyone remember when Firefox struggled to get above 10%?) The newest of the browsers to jump in the ring is RockMelt.  RockMelt is a social web browser.  According to the RockMelt blog:

RockMelt does more than just navigate Web pages. It makes it easy for you to do the things you do every single day on the Web: share and keep up with your friends, stay up-to-date on news and information, and search. And of course, RockMelt is fast, secure, and stable because it’s built on Chromium, the open source project behind Google’s Chrome browser. It’s your browser – re-imagined and built for how you use the Web.

Currently it is in beta testing and you have to sign up to gain access.  What does it look like? Well, there is a nice and short YouTube video that explains it all.  Warning ahead: cheesy harmonica music reminiscent of Apple ads.

Alas, many of you cannot access YouTube videos where you work, so I took it upon myself to take a few screenshots to explain what it can do.  Click on images for larger views.

First off, it truly is a social browser.  Along the left side, are your Facebook contacts who are online.  You can share as you surf, and you can chat directly from this sidebar.  On the right, you have not just Facebook, but Twitter, NYT, Boing Boing, whatever you want to put there – it’s customizable.  The look and feel is like a cross between Safari and Chrome.  It has the three icons on the upper left for close, minimize and maximize that Safari users will recognize and the tabbing look of Chrome.


Here is an image showing the Facebook integration.

RockMelt Search Options

Most of us are used to searching in the searchbox next to the web address box.  Instead of bringing you to another site where you can see the results, you see them immediately.  There are probably Firefox plug-ins that can do many of these features – but this is the first time that they have all just been standard in a browser.

RockMelt and Facebook Integration

Many of you probably will not be able to try this out on your work computer – but if you are curious, give it a try on your home computer and let us know what you think.

AND I would be remiss if I did not remind you that if you ARE using Internet Explorer 6 – Microsoft has officially ended support for this browser.  This means that it is much, much, much (did I say much?) more easily exploitable (i.e. NOT SAFE at all to use.).

Update at 2:13 pm!

Thanks to a colleague on the west coast, (thanks, Dave!) I have bypassed the sit-and-wait period to gain access and received an early view of the browser.  It’s pretty nifty.  There is a button next to the address bar where you can share directly to Facebook and write a message about what you are sharing.  You can add apps and feeds to your right sidebar.  By default it comes with Facebook and Twitter.  RockMelt has something called the “Incognito Window.”  Any pages you view in this window will not appear in your browser history or search history and they won’t leave other traces like cookies after you close the window.

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