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The 5 best browser innovations of 2010

Web browsers are changing

The browser wars have changed. During the last couple of years, the four or five leading browsers have all greatly improved - to the point that the choice often comes down to taste or political conviction. In fact, 2010 was rich with browser improvements and innovations. Here's a look at five that stand out and deserve a round of thanks from users everywhere.

4. The rise of HTML 5

Standards can be too geeky and boring to think about; but this one isn't. If you've been using the web for more than the last few weeks, you know that different sites can look different in different browsers. And some content - Flash being the most obvious example - can only be viewed using a browser that supports it. With HTML 5, web content becomes browser agnostic and the need for plug-ins disappears, or at the very least, will be greatly reduced. Getting rid of plug-ins does more than make the web easier to use, it makes browsers more stable, since plug-ins are often responsible for crashes.

5. IE gets its mojo back

Like the company or not, Microsoft has finally decided to invigorate the IE franchise after years of stagnation. IE 9, which is still in preview, looks like it will be a great improvement over IE 8. (Download the beta here, but note you've got to have Vista SP2 or Windows 7 to run it.)

IE's cluttered face, with toolbars all over the place, has been replaced with a much cleaner look that reminds me of Chrome. Another Chrome-inspired feature is the pinned site. You can drag a tab down to the task bar and it will stay there as long as you want, looking much like an application.

Along with the interface improvements, there's a bunch of good stuff under the hood. Improved support for HTML 5 is there, along with a better use of hardware acceleration. Not too get overly geeky, but most browsers rely on software tricks such as improvements to the handling of JavaScript to increase speed; hardware acceleration makes use of the PCs graphics processor to render page faster.

See also: The 15 most important days in web history

  1. Web browsers are changing
  2. The rise of HTML 5

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