Geeks get excited about JavaScript and HTML 5 performance. The rest of us want web browsers to give a reliable and consistent experience. The user interface is important. So are features and security.

Mainly we want a browser that “just works”.

There isn’t one.

In an. earlier comparison of Firefox 4, Chrome 10 and Internet Explorer 9 Chrome was best.

Best, not perfect.

At the time Chrome met most everyday needs and ran into trouble rendering pages less often than the alternatives.

Web browsers move forward and back

We’re now on Chrome 14. Google has added Instant Pages and print preview.

One step forward, one step back.

Suddenly I’m seeing hard to read sites. Although I may see a fleeting display of text or headlines while a page is loading, at some point characters disappear.

It as if the foreground colour is the same as the background colour, or the text colour is too light, or the background is displayed over the top of the text. I’m not sure which.

So many pages are poorly rendered I have to turn to another browser to read them. I decided to revisit the alternatives.

Internet Explorer 9 almost there

Pages Chrome struggles to display show up fine in Internet Explorer.

The browser is fast, works smoothly with Windows 7 and has a tidy minimal feel. It still handles images better than Chrome or Firefox. Text appears better in Internet Explorer – characters are crisper and appear at sensible sizes. Default fonts are better.

While Internet Explorer show the text missing in Chrome, it runs into problems displaying text on a different set of troublesome pages. Explorer is best for e-commerce sites and reading online newspapers.

Firefox 7 still in third place

Firefox is the most improved browser this year, but still misses expectations. Firefox is faster than it was and now uses less memory. That’s good, but it is still the slowest of the three main browsers.

Worse it seems to have trouble with more pages than Explorer and Chrome. When it comes to “just works” Firefox remains in third place.

Browsers evolving

Intense competition means web browsers are evolving at a cracking pace, not all the changes are for the better. Chrome still has the edge, but the gap is closing fast.

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