The internet has become the primary use for many laptops and desktops in recent years. While online, you want to know that your web browser is fast, secure, and has a few extra features to make the experience easier. We put seven popular offerings through their paces to see which is the best browser for Windows - now updated to include Microsoft Edge.

The once humble browser has fast become the most important icon on any desktop PC or laptop screen. With so much of our digital lives now being lived online, accessing the internet in the fastest and most convenient way possible is essential. Modern offerings are far more than just portals to the web though, instead they have advanced security features, plug-in tools to make life easier, and even complete ecosystems built around them so you never need open another app to get things done. We’ve gathered together seven of the best currently available and tested them to see which is the best for Windows users.

The choice is somewhat wider than you might think, and of course depending on which version of Windows you’re using, there will already be a selection of browsers already installed on your system. Windows 10 has the latest creation from Microsoft - Edge - which features advanced features for annotating web pages, creating reading list, and integrates with Cortana, Microsoft’s new digital assistant. Then of course there is the old warhorse Internet Explorer, which is still one of the widest used programs in the world. Google’s Chrome has gone from strength to strength, garnering a huge user base in its relatively short lifetime, while the likes of Firefox, Opera, and others offer valid alternatives to the huge hitters.

So here are a magnificent seven Windows browsers, put through their paces to see how well they deal with the rigours of the modern internet. We looked at speed, the user interface, added features, and security to find the ultimate application to handle your web needs.

The best part about the browsers is that are all free, and you can of course use more than one at a time on your PC. This could prove useful for using online banking or data sensitive sites, as you can disable features like javascript or Flash and reserve one browser solely for these activities. It’s always good to know that you don’t have to stick with the browser that came on your computer, and some of the alternatives are very good indeed.

(Read next: Best alternative web browsers)

Best web browsers for Windows 2015/2016

7. Avant

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 26 February 15
  • RRP: Free

As an alternative to Internet Explorer we’d find Avant Browser difficult to recommend over the original.

Read our Avant review.

6. Dooble

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 27 February 15
  • RRP: Free

Dooble's safety-first approach is commendable, but the version of the web you’re able to access is going to be too hampered by this browser for most users.

Read our Dooble review.

5. Opera v27

Opera v27
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 25 February 15
  • RRP: Free

Opera might feel a little like Chrome-lite these days, but that’s no bad thing. The browser is fast, even on slow connections thanks to the Turbo mode, and has plenty to offer those who prefer not to live entirely in the Google universe.

Read our Opera v27 review.

4. Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 19 October 15
  • RRP: Free

Microsoft has done well to build a new browser, basically from scratch, and have it running smoothly from the get go. The new look is modern and pleasing on the eye, while the additional features are genuinely interesting to use. There are still a few little kinks to be worked out in the performance, but Edge is off to an excellent start and it will only improve over time. Sure, it’s not quite the powerhouse of Chrome, with Google’s extended ecosystem and plug-in support, but that could work in Edge’s favour if it keeps things simple and fast.

Read our Microsoft Edge review.

3. Internet Explorer 11

Internet Explorer 11
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 20 February 15
  • RRP: Free

With a few nips and tucks over previous versions, Internet Explorer is in fine fettle now with a clean design, robust performance, and ever improving security features.

Read our Internet Explorer 11 review.

2. Mozilla Firefox v35

Mozilla Firefox v35
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 24 February 15
  • RRP: Free

We’ve always had a soft spot for Firefox, but past versions have disappointed due to sluggish performance. The last few iterations though have shown great improvements, and this one in particular is very impressive.

Read our Mozilla Firefox v35 review.

1. Google Chrome browser

Google Chrome browser
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 9 February 15

Chrome continues to mature into an excellent modern browser experience. With the wealth of apps and features available only being matched by its speed and tidy design, it looks set to be the benchmark for a while to come.

Read our Google Chrome browser review.