Regular readers of this column are aware of Maxthon. An incomparable (or so I though) Internet Explorer browser wrapper. Yes, I’m aware that fans of the competitive AvantBrowser exist. But somehow I have never liked AvantBrowser. Always considering it a very poor upgrade of the original MyIE wrapper code.
The Maxthon 2 Beta release in 2006 began well. But as with many other collaborative efforts seemed to include just about every feature you need in a web browser and then some. A rich-feature set is great. But the fastest way to erode user base is by developing a resource hog. Then my limiting the more useful features to paying customers. I’m aware of the difficulties trading browser reach for revenue. But with Microsoft, the Mozilla Foundation, Opera, and more recently Apple, in the race. The day of the paid browser is over. Especially since the big three (or was that four) between them make for a great browsing experience.
Take this columnist as an example. I used to be a die-hard MyIE and later Maxthon fan because they extended Internet Explorer in ways Microsoft (then) pooh-poohed. Opera was cool, but not quite (then and now) a contender as there are many web sites developed only for Internet Explorer. These may, in a pinch, work with Firefox. And possibly even the standards compliant Safari 3. But often have menus and navigation aids incompatible with Opera’s rendering engine.
And then arrived Internet Explorer 7 with pop-up blocking, a tabbed interface, better security features, an optimized rendering engine and wonders of wonders improved resource use. Informal tests viewing the same URLs with IE7 and Maxthon 2 (in separate sessions) revealed that IE7 used 17-20% less system resources; especially when minimized. And so from Maxthon I switched allegiances back to IE7. And continued to use FireFox chiefly because of its Scrapbook page content organizer (the IE7 plug-in IE7Pro captures pages as images which isn’t as usable). Opera soldiers on with its great cache handling that seems to speed up my Rasterwerks Phosphor game playing.
And then a few weeks ago I chanced upon TheWorld. This free browser wrapper for Windows (Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/2003/Vista) originating from China, claims to be only the second browser to support IE7-style threaded browsing. So I put it to a little test by opening exactly the same URLs in both browsers after flushing each’s cache. And checking the resource use. IE7 clocked in at 71.74 MB (maximized) and 6.05 MB minimized. TheWorld at 44.90 MB and 4.91 MB respectively did better. But with a cheat: TheWorld minimizes to the System Tray. Internet Explorer 7 requires a third-party software like TrayIt. After installing the latter, IE7’s minimum resource use dropped to 2.08 MB!
This apart, TheWorld 2 (version 188.8.131.52) is quite feature-rich. And includes almost every Maxthon feature and then some. It sure scores over the competition with its integrated download manager supporting resume. So unlike downloading software with IE7 that requires two clicks and one page refresh. Masochists can, optionally of course, select either Internet Explorer 7’s download manager with all its accompanying hoopla. Or use a 3rd-party download manager of their choice.
TheWorld supposedly supports Maxthon add-ins. But I was unable to test this out. Alternatively you can download TheWorld-specific plugins. The two plugins are found most useful were SysState that in the status bar displays site ping speed, network bandwidth, site IP, available Windows memory and CPU load. The second SiteInfo adds the site’s Google PageRank to the status bar. There are also skins.
I expect as the word spreads about TheWorld, it will become easier to mix ‘n match add-ins. Proof is in the pudding, because from a Chinese-only forum, a new sparely populated English forum has sprouted on the developer’s site.
Of course some IE7 features like QuickTabs that display thumbnails of open sites isn’t well implemented in TheWorld. Here the TabList uses the same icon but lists only the page titles! To learn more about what TheWorld2 supports, do read TheWorld Browser Update Log. Take my word that this is a great software. And download TheWorld2 for yourself.
That’s for this week. More the next time I post. Stay Safe!