Why I use multiple browsers

With Internet Explorer 9.0 on the way, I've been thinking about web browsers. Turns out that I use as many as ten different browsers at work (on Windows), another five browsers at home (on a Mac), and at least two browsers on the road (on an iPhone). Why in the world would I want to use that many different browsers?

Well, platform issues aside, the obvious answer is that I’m a web developer. And, as such, I need to create websites that are compatible with multiple versions of the major browsers. Here are the browsers I have used to do at least some compatibility testing here at Symetra:

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 8.0, 7.0, and 6.0
  • Mozilla Firefox 3.5 and 2.0
  • Google Chrome 4.1
  • Apple Safari 4.0

But, beyond browser compatibility testing, I also use several different browsers on a daily or near-daily basis. Here’s why:

  • Internet Explorer 8.0 is my default browser. I use it for:
    • Active development, because it is the newest production version of the browser that accounts for the vast majority of our web traffic, both internally and externally. IE has to work!
    • Accessing internal websites, such as SharePoint and the Employee Intranet, because IE does a fantastic job of making security transparent to me. Plus, I can easily extend the search bar in IE to include internal SharePoint sites, like devZone.
    • Accessing external, Symetra-specific websites, such as the ADP Portal and the Learning Site, because IE is our internal standard, and these sites are required to work well with it.
  • I use Mozilla Firefox 3.5 for:
    • Accessing Rally, because Rally renders so much faster/better in Firefox than in any other browser – especially IE.
  • I use the preview browsers in Visual Studio and Windows Live Writer for:
    • Testing code changes before or blog formatting before firing up a web server or posting to my blog to make sure things look mostly correct. (Though, the Visual Studio browser, in particular, is notoriously incompatible with all major browsers, including IE. So, I end up having to test things in the real browsers anyway.)
  • I use the Newsgator FeedDemon 3.1 browser for:
    • Viewing articles linked to one of the RSS feeds I follow, because it is too convenient not to. (Though, technically, FeedDemon uses IE under the hood.)
  • I use Google Chrome 4.1 for virtually everything else, including:
    • Browsing the Internet, especially when I’m starting with a Google search, which accounts for most of my time on the Internet, because Chrome offers one of the fastest rendering engines on the planet, a convenient, combined address/search bar, and a fantastic, tabbed-browsing experience. (Though, I do like the way IE 8.0 will close the current tab, rather than closing the entire browser window when I accidentally click on the wrong X.)

Overall, I’d say I spend the most time in IE and Chrome: IE because I have to, Chrome because I like to.

What browsers do you use? And, why? Which is your default? Which is your favorite? Which browser do you wish would just go away?