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10 Most Popular and Forgotten Web Browsers

Billy Haynes is a content writer and founder of HD Writing Co. He has an interest in many things and experience in writing about even more.

10 Most Popular and Forgotten Web Browsers

10 Most Popular and Forgotten Web Browsers

Are you curious about the top 10 most popular and forgotten web browsers? Today, people are more familiar with Google Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. But how many of you remember the old-school browsers that paved the way for the ones we have today?

Do you remember Netscape or AOL? Have you ever heard of the Flock browser? Do you know what a browser is?

In this article, we'll look at the following:

  1. AOL Explorer
  2. Firefox (Phoenix/Mozilla Firebird)
  3. Flock
  4. GreenBrowser
  5. Google Chrome
  6. Internet Explorer
  7. K-Meleon
  8. Maxton/MyIE2
  9. Netscape Navigator
  10. Opera
America Online

America Online

1. AOL Explorer

  • Release Date: July 2005
  • OS: Windows

In 2003, a 7-year contract was signed between AOL and Microsoft, allowing them to use the Trident engine’s layout. This would enable users to download and install AOL Explorer using Microsoft Update.

In 2005, the world was introduced to AOL Explorer, originally called AOL Browser. This browser has been discontinued, with the latest version released in May 2006.

Version 1.2 – This release introduced the RSS Widgets from Favorites and Tab Explorer. Tab Explorer displayed thumbnails within a full-screen window, allowing users to switch between pages quickly. This feature was later implemented in Internet Explorer 7, called ‘Quick Tabs.’

Version 1.5 – This release introduced features such as Visual Themes, and Desktop Widgets, among others. Desktop Widgets enabled users to use a side panel as an independent tool separate from the browser.

Additionally, AOL owned Netscape Communications Corporation, the publisher of the Netscape browser. More on this browser later in the list.



2. Firefox – Phoenix/Mozilla Firebird

  • Release Date: February 2004
  • OS: Cross-Platform

Like Internet Explorer during the 1990s, Firefox has become a browser leader. Although it quickly became more popular than IE and even Google Chrome, it had many challenges. It had a rough start with naming issues and branding itself.

Initially, the browser was going to be called Phoenix, but Phoenix Technologies did not want them to use the name. Then, the name was changed to Mozilla Firebird. Shortly after, they ran into trademark issues, this time due to the Firebird free database software project. Finally, they found the perfect name, Mozilla Firefox.

In 2002, the open-source browser ‘Phoenix’ was created to be a standalone browser by members of the Mozilla community. It was popular among the community because of the overall security, speed, and potential for add-ons.

In 2004, Mozilla Firefox 1.0 was officially released to the public as a new, more powerful browser.

In 2009, Firefox hit its peak usage with version 3.5. The browser was used by 32% of online users at the time, making it the most popular browser worldwide. However, a decline occurred shortly after due to Google Chrome.

Today, Firefox is the second most popular browser used worldwide.



3. Flock

  • Release Date: April 2005
  • OS: Cross-Platform

The Flock browser focused on offering Web 2.0 and social networking features within the user interface. Originally Flock had been designed with Mozilla’s Gecko HTML rendering engine, with a change to using the WebKit rendering engine of Chromium. The browser stopped support in 2011 after being acquired by Zynga.

Version 2.5 had integrated social media and networking features that included Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, and many others. Upon logging in to the social service, updates would be tracked by Flock, making it easier to stay up to date on the latest social feed.

In 2008, Flock was suggested by AOL as an alternative to the Netscape browser after deciding to stop supporting it. Additionally, Flock won the Webby Award for social networking, beating Facebook and others.

GreenBrowser logo

GreenBrowser logo

4. GreenBrowser

  • Release Date: 2010
  • OS: Windows

Like Maxthon, Greenbrowser is another based around the Trident rendering engine and the core of Internet Explorer and is full-featured. Developed by Morequick software organization based in China.

It does not take up much memory and is compact, which is helpful for those with older computer systems. Some of the plugins built for Maxthon are compatible with GreenBrowser. Still, it does have its automated feature by default, like auto form filling, ad filtering, auto-save, and auto-scrolling.

In 2010, GreenBrowser was among the dozen browsers offered to Microsoft Windows users in the European Economic Area.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome

5. Google Chrome

  • Release Date: September 2008
  • OS: Cross-Platform

Initially, Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, was not in favor of releasing a browser due to being a new company. Still, after co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin hired Firefox developers, the demonstration changed his mind about the concept, and Google Chrome was born.

In 2004, rumors emerged that Google was working on a browser. This news came after Firefox 1.0, which quickly gained popularity over Internet Explorer due to better security.

In 2008, Google Chrome was officially released for use on Microsoft Windows operating system, with later releases for macOS, Linux, Android, and IOS. For the release, a comic was created by Scott McCloud to showcase the various features as a unique marketing method. This comic was 38 pages long.

Google released most of the source code for Chrome under the Chromium open-source project.

Version 27 & Prior – Chrome used the WebKit layout engine.

Version 28 & After – Chrome uses Blink, a branch from the WebKit engine.

Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) logo

Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) logo

6. Internet Explorer

  • Release Date August 1995
  • OS: Windows

Developed by Microsoft, Internet Explorer also underwent several name changes over time. It was the default browser on the Windows operating system. Originally released in 1995 on Windows 95, with future updates available for download and later operating systems. Although discontinued, IE is maintained and used by many.

In 1994, Thomas Reardon began the Internet Explorer project. Microsoft used source code from the Mosaic browser, which had connections with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Spyglass Mosaic was licensed for a quarterly rate, plus a percentage for revenue not directly from Windows OS.

In 1995, Microsoft Internet Explorer was finally released, a revised Spyglass Mosaic browser that Microsoft had licensed. The browser was included for free within the Windows operating system, resulting in royalties not being paid to Spyglass Inc.

In 1996, Synet Inc. sued Microsoft due to trademark infringement. The lawsuit was finally settled in 1997 for $8 million.

In 2002, IE peaked as the most used browser on the web, reaching 95% during 2002 – 2003. Microsoft used the bundling method to win the first official browser war, overshadowing the Netscape browser.

In 2004, Internet Explorer had a new challenger, Firefox. Then, in 2008 Google Chrome was released, creating a massive browser war.

Internet Explorer has been discontinued, and the latest browser by Microsoft is Microsoft Edge. This is the new default browser for Windows operating systems.



7. K-Meleon

  • Release Date: August 2000
  • OS: Windows

Developed for Microsoft Windows, the K-Melon browser is open-source and designed with the Gecko layout engine (Firefox, SeaMonkey). The overall concept behind K-Melon is reliability and speed, with an interface that can be highly customized.

Instead of following Mozilla with the cross-platform XML User Interface Language (XUL), K-Melon went a different route, using the Windows API (application programming interface). This gave it a close feel and appearance that matched the Windows desktop theme.

In 2000, K-Melon 0.1 was officially released, developed by Christophe Thibault. It underwent many development changes over the following years.

In 2003, several developers quit working on the project. The lead developer, Dorian Boissonnade, took over the project and continues to keep the project maintained.

In 2010, the K-Melon browser was among the dozen offered to Microsoft Windows users in the European Economic Area.

Many versions have been released since its initial release in 2000, with the release of K-Melon 75 in 2015, with many new features.

Maxthon Browser logo

Maxthon Browser logo

8. Maxthon / MyIE2

  • Release Date: 2002
  • OS Cross-Platform

Maxthon is a cross-platform browser developed by Maxthon Ltd. It supports both the Trident and WebKit rendering engines. In addition, Maxthon won an award for CNET WebWare, twice. Its headquarters is based out of Beijing, China. They are also known for releasing other Chinese-based products.

In 1999, Ming Jie Chen, the current CEO, was the founder of Mysoft International Limited, which distributed the MyIE browser.

In 2005, seed funding was received from Morten Lund and WI Harper Group. They relocated to Beijing.

In 2006, Maxthon obtained additional investment funds from Charles River Ventures.

In 2007, it was reported by TechCrunch that Google had invested in Maxthon, but Chen denied the rumor.

In 2008, Maxthon won the award for CNET WebWave 100, and again in 2009.

In 2010, Maxthon was one of a dozen browsers offered to Windows users within the European Economic Area.

Netscape Navigator logo

Netscape Navigator logo

9. Netscape Navigator

  • Release Date: December 1994
  • OS: Windows

Netscape Navigator was the original browser for Netscape, which has since been discontinued. During the 1990s, it was a popular browser, but it quickly declined and was nearly non-existent by 2002 as Internet Explorer became more popular. Furthermore, AOL bought out Netscape Corporation and decided not to continue sustaining the browser.

In 1994, Netscape Navigator was officially released.

In 1997, the Netscape Communicator suite surpassed Netscape Navigator, which source code was used for the structure of the Mozilla Application Suite, developed by Netscape. Later on, the name was changed to SeaMonkey. Furthermore, Mozilla Suite was used for the spin-off browser, Mozilla Firefox.

In 2007, AOL brought back Netscape Navigator with Version 9. However, by the end of the year, AOL decided to stop the development of the browser while continuing security support updates until March 2008.

Opera browser logo

Opera browser logo

10. Opera

  • Release Date: April 1995
  • OS: Cross-Platform

Developed by Opera Software, the browser is based on the Blink layout engine. Opera browser is known for being the first to introduce certain features, later adopted by other browsers. These features include pop-up blockers, Speed Dialing, private browsing, and tabbed browsing.

Originally a research project by Telenor, it branched into a separate company (Opera Software ASA) in 1995. The official public release was in 1996 as Opera 2.0 for Windows operating systems. However, it became a popular browser on Apple computers and other devices.

In 1996, Opera was officially released to the public as Version 2.0.

In 1998, porting Opera for mobile device usage was attempted to capitalize on the increasing market.

In 2000, Opera 4.0 was released, the first cross-platform-focused version. With the release of Version 5.0, the purchase after the trial requirement was eliminated, converting to being ad-sponsored to continue free usage.

In 2005, Opera fully removed the advertisements in Version 8.5 as most of the funding came from Google revenue, the default search engine by contract.

In 2006, Opera Version 9.1 introduced fraud protection with technology by GeoTrust and PhishTank. Together, creating a digital certificate and track phishing sites. Later, Netcraft replaced GeoTrust to improve security. Also, Haute Secure was added for malware protection. Furthermore, Opera Software ASA released the Nintendo DS Browser and Internet Channel for use with the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS.

Questions for Readers

  • What browsers do you currently use?
  • What browsers have you used in the past?
  • Do you know of browsers that should be listed?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Billy Haynes


Dale Anderson from The High Seas on November 16, 2017:

Interesting stuff. There are so many choices out there and it is good to get thoughts, opinions and recommendations from others who have been exploring and assessing out options. Thanks for the input.

Jekyl on June 27, 2016:

Has there been an update to this list? Also, I'd like to know who actually owns and controls these browsers. It seems like Microsoft and Google are trying to gobble up all the browsers, so they have more monopolistic control of things.

Billy Haynes (author) from Paragould, AR on January 05, 2015:

Plinkus - Thanks for reading, As it was only a list of ten I had to eliminate some, but plan on doing another list if I ever find the time. Since writing this I have ran into many more browsers I didn't even know existed so I'm going to work on a list of those as well.

If you have any other suggestions please feel free to let me know.

Plinkus Polonius on January 05, 2015:

Bill - I currently use IE8 with Google Chrome Frame.

The rendering and performance is superb so I don't plan on using anything else.

Why didn't this IE derivative make the list?

Billy Haynes (author) from Paragould, AR on November 22, 2014:


Thanks for reading. I have been meaning to write another hub with some additional forgotten browsers, I just haven't found the time. :)

twodawgs on November 22, 2014:

The first browser I used when I was first introduced to the worldwide web in 1994 was NCSA Mosaic. I'm surprised there is no mention of it, since it was credited with touching off the explosion of internet use in the early/mid 1990s.

Billy Haynes (author) from Paragould, AR on July 31, 2014:

Thanks for the added information! :) I'll update that.

rodocop on July 15, 2014:

Well, 2 more fixes about K-Meleon:

1) if you specify year of the browser birth as 'Release date' then it must be 2000 for K-Meleon.

2) Now KM is resurrected and works fine with all the modern web.

John on February 23, 2014:


Sunil Kumar Kunnoth from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on May 05, 2013:

Nice hub. I too had written a similar one a few months back. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Keep on writing.

rodocop on December 20, 2012:

Learn more about new K-Meleon:

This browser isn't forgotten and it's going to be resurrected. No one powerful alternative would compare with K-Meleon in terms of speed, small system footprint and customizability.

Try it and become real K-Meleonnaire!

Shawn Scarborough from The Lone Star State on December 08, 2012:

Very interesting hub. I had never heard of some of these web browsers before.

Billy Haynes (author) from Paragould, AR on March 01, 2012:

Safari, I knew I was overlooking a popular one! I'm a Windows user myself so I tend to forget that is the default for Mac users. I do however have it downloaded on my Windows platform along with several other popular ones. Being a freelance web designer it's handy to have the top used browsers downloaded to cross check browser compatibility while designing, and Internet Explorer makes cross browser compatibility a nightmare...

Billy Haynes (author) from Paragould, AR on March 01, 2012:

Haha, your very welcome for the unknown internet junk knowledge. :)

Billy Haynes (author) from Paragould, AR on March 01, 2012:

Yeah, the ever growing list of virus's and security threats is the main reason I don't use discontinued/outdated browsers.

networmed from SPL on March 01, 2012:

Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are very popular even for MAC users.

If you're a Mac user, you probably be using Safari. It's its default web browser, although, it is also available for Windows platform.

The Jiggle Monster on March 01, 2012:

Interesting facts on things I haven't yet learned about the internet. I prefer using Google Chrome but unfortunately my boyfriends computer has Firefox ... I honestly didn't know that there were more than just Internet Explorer, AOL ( Which I thought was still working and up to date , but I seem to be misinformed )Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox. Thank You for the knowledge of the unknown internet junk I could use.

networmed from SPL on March 01, 2012:

Flock still available for download at filehippo and other download sites. And yes, it's one of the good browsers out there, unfortunately, due to its development being stopped, it can't be trusted anymore. You know, everyday security threats are being release by cyber attackers and exploit it through web browser-based attacks.

Billy Haynes (author) from Paragould, AR on March 01, 2012:

Networmed, thanks for viewing my hub. Firefox, IE and Chrome are the popular browsers the title refers to. I can see now how the title could be misleading in that way though. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. :)

Unfortunately Flock was one of the browsers I had not tried myself, but researching and reading up on it was interesting.

networmed from SPL on February 29, 2012:

Firefox, Internet Explorer and Google Chrome aren't actually belong to the forgotten browsers. In fact, these are the popular browsers and widely used today.

Flock was really good, unfortunately its development stopped. Flock was originally derived from the Mozilla Firefox platform, later changed to chromium.