Web browser, or generally also browser (german [ bɹaʊ̯zə ( ɹ ) ], to browse, browse, look around ', also, graze ' ) are special computer programs for displaying web pages on the World Wide Web or in general of documents and data. The browsing the World Wide Web or the sequential retrieval of any hyperlinks as a connection between Web pages using such a program is also referred to as Internet surfing. In addition to HTML pages Web browser various other types of documents, such as images and PDF documents show. Web browser provide the user interface for web applications dar.

  • 5.1 Mosaic
  • 5.2 Netscape
  • Internet Explorer 5.3
  • Mozilla Firefox 5.4
  • Opera 5.5
  • Safari 5.6
  • 5.7 Google Chrome
  • 5.8 compatibility and standards compliance

Browser and web browser

Originally designated the borrowed from the English term browse on the computer, only the benefit of navigation elements ( forward, back, index etc. ) for reading of texts or text files. Extended the term was later (also known as "hyperlinks") by the advent of hypertext, in which specific cross-reference can select action words to get to another text. Then functions were later to display images to and also so-called referential sensitive graphics, where you on a computer graphics a range ( for example, in a world map ) clicks and thereby come to a linked page of text (for example about a specific country). In addition, PDF Browser exist to navigation and search PDF books, magazines, papers, etc., which can also contain hyperlinks and audiovisual media. Programs to manage content on file systems is referred to as file manager.


The majority of the user interface of a modern web browser is typically used to display content. This can be achieved by entering in an address bar. In addition, browsers have a defined home page that is displayed when you open and which is, for example, is an Internet portal or an Internet search engine.

In addition, feature browser provides buttons that allow the user to navigate to previously visited pages and the home page. The URL of a website can be saved as bookmarks in order to simplify further visits to the website.

Newer browsers usually support tabbed browsing, which allows you to open multiple pages in separate tabs. In addition to these basic functions can be browser plug-ins often equipped with additional functions.

Areas of application

Browser are mainly used on PCs. However, mobile devices ( PDAs, smart phones ) have browser software for accessing the World Wide Web. The first mobile browser " PocketWeb " was developed in 1994 at the TecO for the Apple Newton. Today's mobile browsers include Opera Mini, Internet Explorer, Firefox Mobile, Dolphin Browser, Boat Browser, Google Chrome, Safari and Skyfire.

Because of their widespread web browser have an important function as so-called thin clients, Web applications ( see tier architecture ).

With the ongoing trend towards the Internet and multimedia, the Web browser later walked to the central user software on a standard PC today. Today's browsers display content such as computer graphics, music, radio or movies and use this if necessary external components, such as Java applets or so-called plug -ins.

It also makes it programs or files on your PC (download), to store them there and, if appropriate, to open at a later time, or run.

In particular, the proliferation of broadband Internet access promoted these central functions of today's web browser. Thus becoming increasingly blurred and the difference to a file manager, which was originally used exclusively for opening, copying, or deleting files. Many file managers today have browser features (file browser) and can thus be used to view documents.

It is often possible to use a web browser for activities on the local computer, provided that functional units are able to "talk " in accordance with the HTTP web browser to. The advantage here is that this is no specific program must be installed on the computer. It also security considerations of the particular computer system play a role.

Meanwhile, many network-enabled devices have a web interface and can be operated with a browser.

Other Features

Web browser control in addition to other HTTP application layer protocols of the TCP / IP reference model, eg FTP. Some web browsers also have features for e-mail, Usenet or BitTorrent. Other cover these functions from external programs. So today some browsers (such as Mozilla or Opera ) delivered as a browser set with built-in functions for including e -mail and Usenet. Others, such as Internet Explorer and Konqueror are combined browser and file manager. In recent years, again a counter-movement has set in, which advocates for browsers with such additional functions, such as Galeon and Firefox. However, this can installable extensions (see: List of Firefox extensions: s) to be adjusted, so that other functions can be performed with the browser. For example, Firefox can participate in Internet Relay Chat after you install ChatZilla.

Browser specific

Text-based browsers

Some browsers may still represent only simple text. Such browsers are also called text-based browser. They usually allow you to save documents or computer graphics display with external programs. Text browsers are particularly useful for quick research because images, advertising and the like do not be loaded. Examples of text-based browsers are links Line Mode Browser, ELinks, Lynx and w3m. Opera can emulate a text browser.

Offline browser

Offline browser to work offline, ie without internet connection. They only use local content or local copies of web content. The main areas of application are non- internet-enabled computer. To produce a suitable offline copies of websites specialized programs like wget or HTTrack is required. Many standard web browser can be switched in an offline mode, which then their data (if available) upload from the so-called browser cache. In addition, the browser caches are used to already visited pages not having to re- download the next time you visit.


Tim Berners -Lee, a pioneer in the use of hypertext, the first web browser and web editor developed in 1989 at CERN in Geneva ( Switzerland ) under the name WorldWideWeb (later Nexus ) on a NeXT workstation. Stored graphics opened not automatic, but had to be clicked only. In November 1990 he commissioned Nicola Pellow with the development of the minimalist line mode browser, which could only display text, but to " virtually all " ran computers. Christmas 1990, both browsers ready for presentation. In August 1991, Berners -Lee made ​​the project and both browsers in the newsgroup alt.hypertext public.


Larger dissemination took place after the inadequate WWW / Nexus the NCSA Mosaic browser, a software graphical user interface ( GUI) and automatically complete aufbauendem page design, which originally ran on Unix, but was soon ported to the Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows. The version 1.0 of Mosaic was released on 1 April 1993.


Marc Andreessen, head of the development team Mosaics, recognized the commercial potential of the Internet and founded Netscape Communications. The Company launched its Navigator in October 1994 on the market. He was an opposite NCSA Mosaic web browser improved with faster page loading. Netscape spread very rapidly and almost completely repressed Mosaic; for several years he was the leader in the rapid growth of the Internet. The company was acquired in late 1998 by AOL (America Online). New versions of Netscape ( Netscape 6.0, Netscape 7.0 ) had only modest success. In particular, Netscape 6.0 was a failure. On March 1, 2008, the development and the support have been discontinued.

Internet Explorer

Had been Due to the success of Netscape Navigator, Microsoft released, which had hitherto underestimated the Internet in 1995 with Internet Explorer out of the non- developed, but the company Spyglass ( NCSA Mosaic ) were purchased. With the appearance of Internet Explorer throat competition began between the browser vendors Microsoft and Netscape (see Browser War).

In this case, Microsoft could make the competition advantage of the fact to be the manufacturer of the operating system Microsoft Windows and mitauszuliefern with each installation of the operating system and the company's own browser, so he was naturally used immediately. This competitive advantage has led to the decision BrowserChoice.eu the EU in December 2009 to introduce a browser choice in the Microsoft Windows operating system.

One consequence of this competition was the one a proliferation of both browser. On the other hand, led the competition between Microsoft and Netscape to the fact that the two companies in their competition for market share even invented a variety enhancements to its integrated programs, which were initially not supported by the respective competitor. Ultimately, Microsoft succeeded, largely to displace the competitor Netscape out of the market.

Mozilla Firefox

Netscape responded to its loss of market share by transformed it into an open source project. Under the new name the Mozilla Internet suite has been further developed.

Later, the web browser was spun off and at first, later called Phoenix Firefox. It is supplemented by the e -mail client Thunderbird, while Mozilla still had a built-in email client. Versions 1.0 of Firefox and Thunderbird appeared after a long beta phase in December 2004.

While the Mozilla developers had previously been careful to summarize possible every major Internet functions such as web browser, email program, address book and HTML editor in one package (Mozilla Application Suite ), it later sought the publication of individual, mutually independent components to. The aim of the development was a faster startup and lower memory and CPU time utilization. At the same time the development of the individual components should be developed and promoted.

The web-browser function took Mozilla Firefox. The e -mail function was outsourced under the name Mozilla Thunderbird, the calendar will initially be further developed under the name of Mozilla Firefox, the HTML editor as Nvu, KompoZer as. The official Mozilla Application Suite 1.7 was only receives security updates. However, since mid-2005, a community project working on the development of the application suite under the name SeaMonkey.


The browser Opera appeared in the first version of Opera 1996 is characterized by the variety of its functions. Besides the actual Internet functions, it offers an integrated e -mail program, chat modules, BitTorrent support and many, many unique features. Opera is available for a variety of operating systems and user languages. Opera was the first browser, the tabs and a pop -up blocker had firmly integrated.

Nintendo's Wii game console and the Nintendo DS using the Opera browser in order to offer Internet services. Likewise, Sony, Loewe and soon Samsung put in the emerging fusion of TV and the Internet on Opera.


Safari is a browser of the company Apple. He was released in January 2003 and has since Mac OS X Panther (10.3), the default browser, replacing the previously used Internet Explorer. The HTML rendering engine WebKit is based on the KHTML library of the KDE project, which has been adapted by Apple to their own needs and provided free developers again as an open source package. Since June 2007 a ​​version for Windows was available with Safari 3.0. Safari was the first browser fulfilled the Acid3 test. Meanwhile, the browser is in the sixth version. This did not appear for Windows. Safari is also used in a mobile version of iOS as a browser.

Google Chrome

On September 2, 2008 I brought the Chrome web browser out as a beta version for Windows. In December 2008, the first stable version was released. Chrome is available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, iOS and Android.

Compatibility and standards compliance

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) organizes the standardization of the World Wide Web relevant techniques. These standards were implemented in the past and even today by some browser vendors only partially or deviating or extended. This makes the programming of browser- independent web applications because of the high test effort partly difficult and time consuming. The standard conformity of a browser can be checked with the Acid Tests.

Market shares and their measurement

  • Google Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Internet Explorer

The actual dissemination of a web browser is not readily ascertainable. Various providers publish statistics on the prevalence of web browsers. Since the overall prevalence rate of a browser is influenced by various factors, these statistics are different meaningful and come to some very different, seemingly contradictory results. Thus, the distribution of a browser varies depending on the subject area of the website is open, region of origin of the calling person and the time of measurement. Many users are tied to their place of work, for example, to the use of a particular web browser, after work, use this at home under circumstances another browser. Various events lead to strong fluctuations. Thus, the market share increases in the release of a new major version, or falls when the disclosure of a vulnerability.

Overall, give the browser statistics on only the gross distribution and, if trends since each statistic is only based on the evaluation of log files of selected sites and there are no undisputed representative sample to be used for websites.

The measurements are usually performed by means of the so-called User - Agent header with which can identify the browser you are using and this transmitted with every request to the server. In virtually all browsers, this identifier can be changed by the user.