Web Browser Team 2003 -- Final Report
The team evaluated five browsers on several different platforms. The team completed testing this past Friday, and is recommending keeping the status quo from last year. In addition, one browser showed some promise, and the team is suggesting that it be seriously considered for supported status next year.
Here is a brief summary of the team's results for each of the browsers:
Internet Explorer 5.x/6.0: IE is currently the market leader, and had the best results from the team's testing. It is relatively stable with very few crashes, and had no problems with any of the designated web sites or plug-ins. Although it could use some added features, such as ability to block pop-ups and added security, the team still thinks it is the best choice on the market right now. Therefore, the team recommends keeping Internet Explorer in both supported and recommended status for the next year.
Netscape 7.02: 7.02 is a vast improvement over the 6.x versions, with relatively few crashes, a nice download manager, and improved plug-in support. Unfortunately, it is still extremely bloated and slow relative to most of the other browsers out there. However, due to large install base at the University and its stability, the team is recommending that it be kept as supported status for the next year. One caveat is that one of the testers reported late last week that 7.02 ignores all ALT tags, and the team is in the process of performing additional testing on 7.02 to confirm this. The team's recommendation may change if this turns out to be an issue.
Mozilla 1.2/1.3: Mozilla is faster than Netscape 7.02, but is still somewhat bloated and slower than IE, and testers reported problems installing various plug-ins. In addition, the Mozilla project is going in a different direction after the 1.4 release, using a different code base to try and develop a smaller and faster browser. With all of these questions, the team recommends that Mozilla not be supported or recommended for the next year.
Opera: Opera is an extremely fast browser, and is an interesting alternative to the other browsers. However, plug-in support is a problem, and to quote one tester "the help system is an oxymoron". In addition, Opera is not a free browser, and the estimate for the site-licensing cost is not worth the possible advantages Opera has over the free browsers. Therefore, the team recommends that Opera not be supported or recommended for the next year.
Safari: Safari is another interesting alternative to the other browsers. It is free, very fast, and has some very nice features. However, it is still in beta and has only been on the market for four months. Safari shows a lot of promise, and the team recommends taking a very close look at it next year after a full release is available. However, for this year, the team recommends that Safari not be supported or recommended.
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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