More or less, every browser looks the same and behaves in similar ways. There’s basic navigation buttons, a bar for search and for URLs, and maybe a few more, depending on your browser of choice. It doesn’t matter what operating system lies behind the browser, or the device beyond that, you can ultimately expect it to be a similar experience for all.
It’s a layout that works great if you don’t expect to have many tabbed pages, and it’s one which works exceptionally if windowed rather than full-screen.
Browsers running as a full-screen application are known to waste space in the worst possible way. With multiple tabs on a widescreen display, tab management becomes a laughable irony. The titles of the pages are cut short, leaving a series of favicons which only further confuse users about the content of each tab.
This raises a great question. Why not focus on what you’re doing and only have a few tabs open?
Having a few tabs open doesn’t solve the problem. Should smaller displays be limited to only three or four tabs, and larger displays to upwards of eight? I don’t think so, because that simply just doesn’t resolve the problem. It takes a fair bit of time to sift through tabs, and English is a language which is written horizontally, meaning that having points or tabs along that same line interrupts reading and the text being read.
I believe that the best solution to handling tabbed browsing is with vertical tabs. Google Chrome had vertical tabs as an optional UI element in release 15, and was (tragically) removed in release 16. Opera has vertical tabs too, though the implementation is far from attractive.
Vertical tabs are a uniform width, regardless of how many tabs are open, so that you can identify the content of each tab. Their width also means that when a browser is running as a full-screen application, you have greater vertical real estate to play with, and with the prevalence of widescreen displays, their impact on webpages is minimal.
Microsoft’s OneNote is a perfect example of how effective and fast vertical tabs are, and it perfectly demonstrates everything that is wrong with horizontal tabs. Even with very few sections, horizontal tabs can get cut off when the window is at a small size. This doesn’t happen with the vertical tabs. They’re easy to sort through and identify. In fact, there really isn’t any need for the horizontal tabs, as the exact same functionality is present to the very far left.
Blah blah blah Google, please give me back my vertical tabs.