It’s been over a decade and a half since Microsoft’s Internet Explorer became the reigning champ as the most used Web browser in the world and it continued to hold that title…..until recently.

Enter Google Chrome. Google’s Web browser was released in the last quarter of 2008 for Windows and later in 2009 for Linux and Mac. Over the first year or so Chrome quickly gained a sizable portion of the browser wars pie. Because of the short time that Chrome has been around is reason enough to applaud its accomplishments of fast growth, but compare this to Internet Explorer’s reputation over triple the amount of time, and you’ve now got reason for a standing ovation.

In November 2011, just 3 years after it released to the public, Chrome overtook Firefox as the number 2 browser by popularity. This was big. Firefox had been around StatCounter-browser-ww-weekly-201123-201227for quite some time as well and was a very popular browser by this point, and even many years before. But even more remarkable was in May of this year when Chrome passed IE to take the number 1 spot in worldwide Web browser popularity. I should note, this is according to StatCounter. Other global statistic sites show different results, but they all point to a simliar trend – IE usage declining, Firefox usage remaining stagnant, and Chrome usage rising.

Chrome has gained market share and popularity at a fast rate because of its simplicity and speed. The browser is quite lightweight, meaning it doesn’t take up much room and therefore starts up very fast after launching it. But the speed doesn’t end after the application opens; start browsing your favorite sites, even with many tabs, and you’ll find that Chrome is also very fast to load Web pages. Check out the video below that Google threw together a couple years ago to showcase Chrome’s quickness.

If you enjoyed that, you’ll get a kick out of the ‘making of’ video below…ya know, since you’re in the video-watching mood now.

Another feature that Chrome launched with from the start that helped it gain fans was the omnibox. Chrome was the first mainstream browser (that I can recall) to combine the search bar and address bar into one unit, the omnibox. I love these kind of innovations because they’re the kind that seem almost dumb to call a ‘feature’ because of how simple of an idea it was, yet nobody else had thought of it before. Whatever you type in the omnibox is really sent through the wringer. Results include items from the Web as site names, Google searches, history searches (recently closed tabs and frequently visited sites), and bookmarks. So it really was the only box you needed to search for anything and everything. This is just one more of the many small features (I don’t have time to go through them all) that Chrome boasts which make it a fantastic choice for your primary browser. You can also find a couple other posts on our blog that explain a few other neat Chrome factoids.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly is some news you should know about if you’re a Windows XP user. More and more sites are ending support for Internet Explorer 8. Why is this important? Well, some time ago, Microsoft declared that IE8 is the the last version of the browser that it will support for XP, so if you’re still using Windows XP you can’t update to IE9, which was released in March 2011. On top of that, IE10 is built into Windows 8, and is soon releasing for Windows 7 (it will not be available for XP or Vista). So that will put IE8 two versions behind the most current browser offering from Microsoft, leaving it prone to security issues, and incompatibility with Websites and more advanced features. This is all the more reason to choose a second browser, if even just for a backup, to download and get used to. Google’s Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox, and Apple’s Safari are all more than capable (and frequently updated) browsers.