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Best web browser 2020: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera face off


The web browser is by far the most important piece of software on your PC. Unless you’re at a workstation crunching numbers or editing Hollywood blockbusters, you probably spend the majority of your computer time staring at a webpage.

That’s why it’s important to have the best tool for the job. So much has changed since our last browser showdown in early 2019. Not only is Internet Explorer out, but classic Edge is about to be replaced by Chromium-based Edge. The latter is not officially a part of Windows yet, but you can already download it manually to replace the original (and basically terrible) Edge. For the PCWorld browser showdown 2020 edition, we’ve dumped classic Edge and replaced it with the stable version of Chromium Edge. 

There are tons of browser options out there but real choice is limited. With Edge now using Chromium, three of our four browsers in this showdown are based on Google’s open-source project. Even the two most talked about “alternative” browsers, Brave and Vivaldi, are based on Chromium.

We won’t get into the argument here, but suffice to say, from our point of view this is bad. The web thrives when multiple engines adhere to independent web standards, not when developers target a single browser engine. We’re not quite returning to something like the age of Internet Explorer 6. Apple’s Safari browser (based on Webkit) is really the only choice on iOS, for example. Still, it’s concerning.

Let’s take a look at the four major options—Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera—to see how they stack up in 2020. Last time around, Opera topped our charts as the best browser to get. This year, Edge (yes, Edge) is our top pick, but don’t get too excited. You’re not losing much, if anything, if you stick with Chrome instead. Read on to find out why.

(If none of these internet browsers strike your fancy, head over to PCWorld’s roundup of 10 intriguing alternative browsers.)

Browsers in brief

Chrome

chrome2020Google

A perennial favorite, Google Chrome tops the metrics charts of both StatCounter and NetMarketShare by a huge margin. Google’s browser has built a dedicated fan base thanks to its massive extensions library, and the fact that it just gets out of your way to put the focus on web content, not the browser’s trimmings.

Chrome isn’t quite as simplistic as it once was, but it’s still very easy to use. There isn’t much to Chrome except a huge URL bar—known as the OmniBar—plus a space for extensions, a bookmarking icon, tabs, and that’s it.

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