My Web Browser Journey: From Lynx to Microsoft Edge

I was recently clearing out my old stuff and came across a box of computer parts for the first computer that I purchased. One item made me think about my 30-year journey using web browsers and (spoiler), and that I am using Microsoft Edge now.

My Short History of Using Web Browsers

My first web browser was Lynx. My first internship required its use. Lynx is a text-only way to view the web. You navigated by following hyperlinks and browsing through walls of text. Imagine Lynx with ChatGPT?

Lynx (web browser)

My first full-featured web browser was Netscape Navigator. I still remember opening it for the first time and seeing the web with HTML with text, text animations, and images. Netscape Navigator was installed on all of the computers in the Penn State computer labs.

Unannounced to me a war broke out between Netscape and Microsoft. Internet Explorer was Microsft’s answer to using the web and they made it their mission to be number one. I learned about IE when I bought a new computer back in 1996. I used a tax return to buy a PC from a local computer shop on campus. This computer came with a CD-ROM of Internet Explorer. Microsoft Internet Explorer was JAVA compatible!

Microsoft Internet Explorer CD-ROM

IE became the bane of my existence. I wrote webpages and web applications for a living and IE always had a special way of rendering HTML that required a lot of extra code to handle quirks and interpretations of markup language. The idea of cross-browser compatibility took a while to catch on. At some point, Firefox emerged, rendered webpages accurately, and became the standard in how the HTML standard should work. And then everything changed in 2008 when Google released the Chrome web browser. Chrome swept the internet. On every PC I touched, I used IE to download Chrome. Chrome rendered HTML, CSS, and javascript reliably and consistently. The engine behind the browser known as Chromium is open source, meaning the community could use it, modify it, fix it, and re-release it. Ever since my first use of Chrome, I have spent some time every day with Chrome ever since its launch until recently.

Apple also introduced Safari and this is the primary way Apple users from phones, tablets, and desktop computers access the web.

Desktop Browser Market Share Worldwide

Microsoft Edge

After I unearthed my Microsoft Internet Explorer CD, I made a realization. I am now using Microsoft Edge for my day-to-day browsing and work. Edge is based on Chromium and has a very similar ecosystem as Chrome, but that is not why I started using it so much.

Next.js Web Application in Microsoft Edge

I started using Edge to get access to Bing Chat and Microsoft’s Generative AI tech. Bing Chat lives in a sidebar right in the browser. It is kind of like your copilot (ahem) and lets you ask questions, get page summaries, compose email messages, and get insights about what you are browsing for. You can even ask Bing Chat who Hans Scharler is and get an answer that Hans Scharler wrote on his about page on his website.

Bing Chat: Who is Hans Scharler?

The more and more I use Edge, the more I am hooked. I love the developer tool integration with Visual Studio Code and the extensions that extend Edge. I had to pause when I found the CD. I just realized that I am an Edge and Bing user now almost exclusively. I could not have guessed that was going to happen based on my 15-year obsession with the Google ecosystem.

What do you use (and why)? Let’s discuss this on Discord.

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