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A web browser (commonly referred to as a browser) is a software application for accessing information on the World Wide Web. When a user requests a from a particular , the web browser retrieves the necessary content from a and then displays the page on the user's device.

A web browser is not the same thing as a search engine, though the two are often confused. For a user, a search engine is just a website that provides to other websites. However, to connect to a website's server and display its web pages, a user must have a web browser installed.

Web browsers are used on a range of devices, including , , , and . In 2019, an estimated 4.3 billion people used a browser. The most used browser is , with a 64% global market share on all devices, followed by Safari with 18%. Other notable browsers include and .


History
The first web browser, called , was created in 1990 by Sir . He then recruited to write the Line Mode Browser, which displayed web pages on ; it was released in 1991.
(2020). 9780192862075, Oxford University Press. .

1993 was a landmark year with the release of Mosaic, credited as "the world's first popular browser". Its innovative graphical interface made the World Wide Web system easy to use and thus more accessible to the average person. This, in turn, sparked the Internet boom of the 1990s, when the Web grew at a very rapid rate. , the leader of the Mosaic team, soon started his own company, , which released the Mosaic-influenced Netscape Navigator in 1994. Navigator quickly became the most popular browser.

debuted Internet Explorer in 1995, leading to a with Netscape. Microsoft was able to gain a dominant position for two reasons: it bundled Internet Explorer with its popular Microsoft Windows and did so as with no restrictions on usage. Eventually the market share of Internet Explorer peaked at over 95% in 2002.

was the first web browser.]]

In 1998, Netscape launched what would become the Mozilla Foundation to create a new browser using the open source software model. This work evolved into , first released by Mozilla in 2004. Firefox reached a 28% market share in 2011. Apple released its Safari browser in 2003. It remains the dominant browser on Apple platforms, though it did not become popular elsewhere.

debuted its browser in 2008, which steadily took market share from Internet Explorer and became the most popular browser in 2012. Chrome has remained dominant ever since.

In 2011, the first version of HTTPS Everywhere was launched, while NoScript got its main awards and Mozilla launched the stable version of Tor Firefox browser, the free to navigate the .

Microsoft released its browser in 2015 as part of the Windows 10 release, and rebuilt it as a Chromium-based browser in 2019. (Internet Explorer is still used on older versions of Windows.)

In terms of technology, browsers have greatly expanded their , , , and capabilities since the 1990s. One reason has been to enable more sophisticated websites, such as . Another factor is the significant increase of connectivity, which enables people to access data-intensive web content, such as , that was not possible during the era of dial-up modems.


Function
The purpose of a web browser is to fetch information resources from the Web and display them on a user's device.

This process begins when the user inputs a (URL), such as <nowiki></nowiki>, into the browser. Virtually all URLs on the Web start with either http: or https: which means the browser will retrieve them with the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). In the case of https:, the communication between the browser and the is for the purposes of security and privacy.

Once a has been retrieved, the browser's displays it on the user's device. This includes and formats supported by the browser.

Web pages usually contain to other pages and resources. Each link contains a URL, and when it is clicked or , the browser navigates to the new resource. Thus the process of bringing content to the user begins again.

Most browsers use an internal cache of web page resources to improve loading times for subsequent visits to the same page. The cache can store many items, such as large images, so they do not need to be downloaded from the server again. Cached items are usually only stored for as long as the web server stipulates in its HTTP response messages.


Settings
Web browsers can typically be configured with a built-in menu. Depending on the browser, the menu may be named Settings, Options, or Preferences.

The menu has different types of settings. For example, users can change their and default search engine. They also can change default colors and . Various network connectivity and privacy settings are also usually available.


Privacy
During the course of browsing, received from various are stored by the browser. Some of them contain login credentials or site preferences. However, others are used for tracking user behavior over long periods of time, so browsers typically provide settings for removing cookies when exiting the browser. Finer-grained management of cookies usually requires a browser extension.


Features
The most popular browsers have a number of in common. They allow users to set bookmarks and browse in a . They also can be customized with extensions, and some of them provide a sync service.

Most browsers have these features:

  • Allow the user to open multiple pages at the same time, either in different browser windows or in different tabs of the same window.
  • Back and forward buttons to go back to the previous page visited or forward to the next one.
  • A refresh or reload button to reload the current page.
  • A stop button to cancel loading the page. (In some browsers, the stop button is merged with the reload button.)
  • A home button to return to the user's .
  • An to input the of a page and display it.
  • A search bar to input terms into a search engine. (In some browsers, the search bar is merged with the address bar.)

There are also niche browsers with distinct features. One example is text-only browsers that can benefit people with slow connections or those with visual impairments.


Security
Web browsers are popular targets for , who exploit security holes to steal information, destroy , and other malicious activities. Browser vendors regularly patch these security holes, so users are strongly encouraged to keep their browser software updated. Other protection measures are antivirus software and avoiding known-malicious .


Market share

See also


External links
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