So every now and then I like to try out the newest offerings from the Browser community and see which one suite me the best. Below is my short snip on all three and which I think is best at the moment.
First my setup:
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 3.2 ghz
4GB Corsair XMS DDR 2
Geforce 8800 GTS 640 MB
Windows Vista Ultimate 64bit
I won't go too much into the features each browser has, sufficed to say that they all use tabbed browsing.
Internet Explorer 7:
IE is pretty basic in its offerings. There are no extensions, widgets, or anything like that. What you get is, on paper, the most web-friendly browser of the bunch.
Quickly becoming the most popular browser available right now (at least by PC enthusiasts). Its strength comes from its plethora of extensions that allow users to do things that other browsers do not.
Touted as the fastest of the browsers, Opera's selling points are its speed and built in features. Some of the same features offered in Firefox via extensions are offered in Opera by default.
I've used all three browsers extensively and have encountered short backs with all of them while running them on Vista 64bit. Note that none of these browsers are native 64bit applications; they are all 32bit apps running on a 64bit OS.
The issues I've encountered are as follows: Firefox seems to crash quite often, especially when attempting to launch streaming media. I had this problem occasionally in Firefox running Windows XP 32bit, but in Vista 64bit, it's just much worst. I would say it's a codec issue, but Opera does not have this problem at all.
Opera also uses much less system resources than Firefox does, and that's a winner for me. Leave Firefox running with several tabs for a while and it will eat up RAM like Pac-Man eats ghosts. Opera seems to keep things reasonable no matter how many tabs are open. IE seems to fall somewhere in between, but unlike Firefox the resource consumption does not seem to continue to rise the way it does in Firefox. I've noticed the problem Firefox has is related more to closing tabs properly. In testing, I opened and closed several tabs in each browser, all going to the same websites, and while IE 7 and Opera seemed to release the resources used when tabs were closed, Firefox seemed to not do it consistently as it should.
Opera 9.2.1 seems to have fixed some of the problems that plagued Opera 9.0 in regards to displaying hundreds of images on screen at once. At a certain point, Opera 9.0 would seem to choke whenever I loaded a site with a gazillion thumbnails, but 9.2.1 has handled everything I've thrown at it without any hiccups. Firefox has always done a great job of handling large amounts of images, and IE gets the job done, but takes much longer than Opera or Firefox to load all of the images.
I miss some of the Firefox extensions such as Gspace and my Foobar toolbar, but all of the other features I regularly use that Firefox delivers via extensions are included in Opera. Things like a built in bit torrent downloader, IRC, add blocker, and such are included into Opera. Opera also has widgets, but I find no use for them. Everything I personally care to have is already on my Vista sidebar. IE is as Plain Jane as they come.
Problems with displaying content were not an issue I encountered with any of the browsers. In the past Opera, especially, was guilty of having problems displaying certain websites like www.gamespot.com properly. However, with version 9.2.1, those issues seem to be resolved.
In regards to 64bit browsers, Vista comes with a 64bit version of IE, but I gotta say that I did not notice a difference between the 32bit version other than not being able to display Flash content because of a lack of a 64bit version of Adobe Flash. I did try the alpha of the Firefox 64bit and was quite impressed by its stability and speed, however with no 64bit Flash available; it's not a viable solution right now. Opera does not seem to have a 64bit offering at this time.
Both Firefox and Opera are great IMO and you can't go wrong with either one. If you're using IE, then IMO, you're missing out on a much improved browsing experience that is offered with either Firefox or Opera.
If not for the stability problems I've encountered, I'd stick with Firefox 2, but the moment, I'm sticking with Opera, but I plan to review them all again when 64bit versions are finally released (and hopefully a 64bit version of Adobe Flash plug-in as well).