Browser updates: Here's how often Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Safari get refreshed

The browser with the most refreshes in 2017? That would be Chrome. The fewest? Apple's Safari.

All browsers are equal, but some are more equal than others.

That's true for a whole host of characteristics, whether it's their affect on notebook batteries or the size of the extension library, the speed with which engineers address security vulnerabilities or how well the browser deals with ad trackers.

It's also true of how fresh each browser is at any given moment.

Because the Big Four browser makers - Google, Mozilla, Microsoft and Apple - upgrade their wares (Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Safari, respectively) at different rhythms, some are usually fresher than others.

That's fresher, as in they have new features and tools, under-the-hood functionality or easily-visible UI (user interface) changes.

Which browsers get refreshed the most? Which the least? We've done the calculations for you.

Google's Chrome

Google updated Chrome eight times in 2017, the most of any of the Big Four browsers.

From Chrome 56 (Jan. 25) to Chrome 63 (Dec. 6), Google refreshed the browser on an average tempo of 45 days, the shortest interval of the big four. The shortest stretch between updates was 41 days (Chrome 57 to Chrome 58, the latter in April), while the longest was 50 days (a two-version tie in July and December).

So far this year, Google has upgraded Chrome four times, with an average interval of 43.5 days, or slightly shorter than in 2017 as a whole.

Firefox

Mozilla refreshed Firefox seven times in 2017, coming in second behind Google and Chrome in the frequency sweepstakes.

Last year, Mozilla upgraded Firefox 51 (Jan. 24) through Firefox 57 (Nov. 14) on an average cadence of 49 days, a span about 10% longer than Google's Chrome. The shortest interval between updates was 42 days (Firefox 51 to 52, the latter in March), while the longest was 56 days (Firefox 55 to 56, in September).

So far in 2018, Mozilla has updated Firefox three times, with an average span of nearly 60 days, considerably longer than in 2017.

Edge

Microsoft upgraded its Edge browser, the default for Windows 10, only twice in 2017.

Although the Redmond, Wash. company was reportedly considering cutting ties between its Windows 10 upgrade tempo and that of Edge by offering the latter in its online app market, it has not done so. Splitting Windows 10 and Edge, of course, would let Microsoft refresh Edge more often than twice each year, the frequency of its operating system feature upgrades.

In 2017, Microsoft rolled out Edge 15 (April 5) and Edge 16 (Oct. 17) 195 days apart, the second-longest period between upgrades. In that same period, Google released more than four Chrome updates, while Mozilla launched nearly as many.

Microsoft has upgraded Edge just once this year, on April 30, when it issued Windows 10 version 1803; Edge 17 was part of that operating system update.

Note: The company does push out security fixes for Edge throughout the year as part of its monthly patching efforts.

Safari

Apple retooled Safari just once last year, when it upgraded macOS from 10.12 (Sierra) to 10.13 (High Sierra) .

Like Microsoft, Apple weds its browser upgrades to its operating system refreshes, so it has just the one opportunity to add significant features and functionality, the reason why its annual list of additions and improvements is extremely long by the standards of Chrome or Firefox.

Apple has yet to upgrade Safari this year, although it plans to deliver Safari 12 this fall as part of macOS Mojave, and as a separate download for users of the two prior editions, High Sierra (2017) and Sierra (2016).

Note: The company does update Safari with security fixes throughout the year as part of the patches it releases five or six times annually.

browser calendar 2017 IDG Communications/Gregg Keizer

The Big Four browsers – Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Safari – upgraded at varying velocities in 2017.

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