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Revealed: the world's best browser

Ubiquity will soon come to Firefox's Awesome bar. We'll take that

Your web browser is probably the most important thing on your computer - and you almost certainly spend more time with it than you do with family or friends.

It's no wonder, then, that browser battles cause so much controversy. Some browsers don't render sites properly, others don't include useful features, and yet more won't let you tweak them to suit yourself.

That's why we've decided to create a manifesto for our own. TechRadar doesn't build browsers, but we think you'll agree: if we did, it'd probably be the best browser in the world.

The rendering engine
There are several browser engines to choose from: Trident, which powers Internet Explorer; Gecko, which is in Firefox; Webkit, which you'll find in Chrome and Safari; and Presto, which powers Opera. We'd go for Webkit, which consistently outperforms the other engines in benchmarks, especially with JavaScript. It's fast, standards compliant and open source.

The interface
We like Chrome's stripped-down design (and we prefer its tabs to the similarly minimalist Safari) but we'd also like to tweak it, so as with Firefox we'd use PNG graphics and CSS code to describe the user interface and enable skins. We'd also add a sidebar for additional content, whether it's Twitter or bookmarks.

We'd also take Chrome's combined address and search bar. Why have two boxes in your browser when one does the job just fine? That would take care of URLs, web searches - Google would be the default so our browser makes us some money, but you would of course be able to change that - and history browsing.

The extensions
A big part of Firefox's success is due to the huge number of available extensions. Quality varies widely, but when they're good they're very good - and of course if you let other people develop handy features, you don't need to worry about making them yourself.

Our browser would want to replicate that, so we'd mimic Firefox's approach and make it easy for anyone to code extensions through JavaScript. As with Firefox we'd provide a single place for developers to upload their creations - and crucially, for users to rate them so the cream rises to the top and the bad extensions get rightly slated.

We'd also nick Firefox's forthcoming Taskfox, which adds the excellent Ubquity to the browser and enables plain text mashups such as "map this address" or "tweet this link". While it does much the same job as Internet Explorer 8's accelerators, using text input rather than the right-click menu helps reduce clutter. For mockups of Taskfox, check out this PNG image.

Security and Privacy
A private browsing mode is a given - either Internet Explorer's InPrivate or Chrome's Incognito, both of which enable you to have private browsing in one window and normal browsing with another - but we'd take things one step further and bake in support for genuinely anonymous browsing via Tor.

That would give our users two options: traditional private browsing for when they're shopping for surprise presents, and seriously private browsing for when they're blowing the whistle on corporate misbehaviour or doing something else heroic. We'd include pop-up blocking, but for getting rid of other annoyances - adverts, unwanted Flash, that sort of thing - we'd let developers build appropriate extensions.

As with Internet Explorer and Chrome we'd give each browser tab its own process so a misbehaving app can't bring down the entire browser, and we'd take Internet Explorer's sandboxing so that in-browser apps can't just fiddle around with anything they fancy.

Last but not least we'd also take the anti-phishing approach of existing browsers, which compares URLs against known nasties and warns you accordingly. We'd also take the URL highlighting that IE8 uses to show you what domain you're actually visiting - although we'd add Firefox's one-click identity management, that enables you to see not just whether a site is encrypted but how many times you've visited it, whether it's using cookies and whether you've saved any passwords.

Carrie Marshall


Former lion tamer, Girls Aloud backing dancer and habitual liar Carrie Marshall (Twitter, Google+) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to .net, MacFormat, Tap! and Official Windows Magazine as well as co-writing stacks of how-to tech books. "My job is to cut through the crap," she says. "And there's a lot of crap."