As far as the word obsolete goes, very few widely used operating systems define the term as much as Windows XP. Its creator, Microsoft, ended support for the Windows version in April 2014. Popular browser makers, Google, Opera Software, and Mozilla, have also stopped supporting Windows XP and Vista.
Yet, the OS still has a substantial number of users (0.58% of Windows PCs as of July 2021), meaning there is a need for safe, functioning browsers to access the internet.
A common-sense solution would be to simply download the version of mainstream browsers that still support Windows XP, like Chrome 49 and Firefox 52.9.0esr. However, while they might check the functionality box, they no longer receive security patches. Thus, they are not safe for sensitive browsing.
Here, I have compiled ten browsers that are safe and useful for web browsers on Windows XP in 2021. They require limited computer resources, which makes them ideal for the antiquated OS.
Read on to learn more about each of them.
Also Read: Best Browsers For Xbox One
1. Opera 36
Opera browsers are famously lightweight and consume less amount of processing power compared to popular alternatives. That means older versions like Opera 36 still work perfectly on dated OS’s like Windows XP and Windows 7.
But being lightweight is just the tip of the iceberg as far as advantages of using this browser go. Opera 36 comes with an in-built ad blocker, allowing you to enjoy fast browsing speeds. You can block unnecessary scripts that slow load times and strain CPU power without installing a dedicated extension.
The web browser also has decent security features like a free VPN and a tracker blocker that prevents data collection.
Besides those, you also get several additional features that give you the feel of using a modern web browser on your old computer. This is most visible in the UI design. While simple and intuitive, it has a sleek design that would not feel out of place on more recent Windows OS’s like Windows 8 or 10. The interface is also completely customizable.
Another feature with a modern look is the Speed Dial. It is an elegantly built, easy-to-use feature that allows you to visit your favorite websites from the start page. There is also a News section down the start page for keeping up with the latest happenings.
Also, suppose you have an Opera account on another device, mobile, or PC. In that case, you can sync your data and access them on the XP browser. You will be able to access your saved passwords, browsing history, and bookmarks.
Check out some of the best Opera alternatives here.
K-Meleon is one of the few browsers designed and maintained to work on older Windows OS’s like Windows XP and 7. The web browser has been around since August 2000, using the Gecko layout engine, the same one that powers Mozilla Firefox.
The developers have since switched to the Goanna layout engine, a fork of the Gecko layout. However, it still has the look and feel of Firefox. So, you should still be able to find your way around the browser with little effort necessary.
But if its default layout is not your cup of tea, K-Meleon has a highly flexible interface design. You can do everything from repositioning individual toolbars or changing the menus and toolbar buttons. Besides the personal advantage, this also makes it an ideal browser for computers meant for public use.
However, it is its lightweight nature that genuinely makes K-Meleon ideal for Windows XP computers. It requires only 256 RAM, far less than the maximum of 4GB RAM available to the OS. It means not only can it run on XP or Vista, but it can also run on Windows 95 and any other OS that predates Windows 7.
Despite its low RAM usage, it is fast, reliable, and supports few Mozilla extensions. For extra extensions, the browser has plugins and browser themes accessible from the browser’s website. You can use them to extend its functionality and customize the general appearance, respectively.
Lastly, despite having a small user base, K-Meleon still receives regular support. The most recent version, K-Meleon 76, was released in February 2021.
Explore: Best Browsers For Twitch
3. Pale Moon
Since software companies with commercial interests have moved beyond Windows XP, the development of browsers compatible with older software has largely fallen to open source developers. Of the many out there, Pale Moon is one of the more reliable and popular ones.
Like K-Meleon, it is a fork of Mozilla Firefox, with substantial differences in user interface and behind the scenes. In terms of the former, Pale Moon is highly customizable. For the latter, the open-source web browser runs exclusively in single-process mode.
This fact, in particular, is why it is one of the best browsers for Windows XP in 2021. Because single process architecture consumes a lot less RAM, it is perfect for low spec laptops and desktops. Pale Moon requires just 256MB of space, the kind of resource efficiency needed for reliable browsing.
As for features, the browser comes with its own exclusive add-ons. It has a substantial collection across multiple categories such as —
- Tools & Utilities
- Web Development
- Privacy & Security
- Social & Communication
- Alerts & Updates
The web browser also supports addons and plugins no longer supported by newer versions of Mozilla Firefox. They include XUL, XPCOM, and NPAPI plugins that enable Flash Player.
Beyond extensions, Pale Moon is an excellent option if privacy is a significant concern. It uses DuckDuckGo as its default search engine. It is renowned for its commitment to users’ privacy and filterless search. Also, instead of Google’s geolocation software, it uses the IP-API service.
Another notable feature of Pale Moon as a Windows XP web browser is support for multiple languages. It includes Russian, Hungarian, Slovenian, Greek, Finnish, and 32 other languages on different continents, a practical benefit in Armenia, where more than 50% of computers still use Windows XP.
Check Out: Best Browsers For Video Streaming & Netflix
Mozilla Firefox isn’t the only great browser that came out of the famous Netscape Communicator. So did SeaMonkey, an open-source software that is more than a browser. It is an internet suite that includes a web browser, email, and news client program.
It also comes with an HTML editor, an IRC client, ChatZilla, and web development tools. While these may not appeal to casual users, they are helpful to advanced users, web developers, and corporate users.
The SeaMonkey web browser is based on the XUL architecture. Thus, it has a more traditional interface reminiscent of the early days of internet browsers. Users can take advantage of this to extend the functionality of the browser with add-ons.
For regular users who just want a capable browser to access the internet, SeaMonkey comes with a slew of modern features to help you navigate easily.
It has tabbed browsing, so you never have to worry about opening one page at a time. There is also session restore for picking up wherever you stopped or in the rare instance that the browser crashes.
Additional features include —
- Add-ons Management: for installing extensions
- Data Manager: a central management interface for managing cookies, permissions, site-specific data, passwords, and more
- Pop-up Blocker: ad and tracker blocker
A Smart Location Bar also allows you to search web pages you’ve visited before to revisit quickly. SeaMonkey also comes with standard modern web browser tools like toolbar customization, multi-language support, security settings, and more.
More impressively, it is managed by an active developer community that updates it regularly. The web browser and other software in the SeaMonkey internet suite are compatible with Windows XP SP3 and above.
Interesting Post: Best Browsers For Smart TV
5. UR Browser
One of the browser options on this list built on the popular Chromium engine, UR Browser, is a web browser that is just as great on old computers as it is on new ones. Its main selling point is its strong focus on user privacy. The browser’s privacy suite includes tools like
- Anti-tracking – blocks cookies and tracks from learning about your online identity
- AdControl – blocks ads scripts and helps pages load faster
- HTTPS Redirect – creates a stronger layer of security by forcing HTTP websites to switch to their HTTPS page
- Anti Fingerprinting – prevents websites from collecting data such as IP address and screen resolution from the browser
Perhaps the most impressive is its Ninja Mode, its take on the standard incognito mode. UR Browser’s version enables you to browse incognito within the same window. You can browse in regular and private modes using different tabs.
Although this may not seem like a big deal, it helps conserve RAM and battery. The web browser also comes with a virus scanner that scans websites and blocks any cyber threat. A useful tool considering Windows XP no longer receives security updates from Microsoft.
UR Browser also offers an in-built VPN. Ultimately, you can control the effectiveness of these privacy features by setting privacy levels.
Besides its privacy and security features, UR Browser is easy to install and simple to use. The interface is similar to Google Chrome, thanks to their shared Chromium engine. It also comes with a download manager with a distinct look.
All these features and more are available to all old Windows PCs and modern versions such as Windows 8, 8.1, and 10.
Besides Opera 36 mentioned above, Maxthon Browser is the second most popular browser on this list and a great option if you want something with a large user base. It is the product of the Chinese company Maxthon, and it has been around since 2002.
Although it has been subject to data privacy scandals since its initial release, it remains popular thanks to several features and compatibility with multiple devices.
It is a multi-platform web browser that is available to Windows XP users and macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone users. Maxthon is based on Chromium and has received recognition for its quality from entities like CNET and PC World.
Despite its Chromium engine, Maxthon is a lightweight web browser. It requires only 512MB of RAM, a 1GHz CPU, and 64 MB of hard drive space. Not only does that make it suitable for an XP computer, but it can also run on Windows 2000.
Also, the web browser comes with an in-built ad blocker, which makes pages load faster and reduces RAM consumption.
It also has screen capture, multi-tab manager, autofill, smart address bar, and multi-search. The latter allows users to input keywords in the search bar and receive results from multiple search engines simultaneously.
Furthermore, Maxthon Browser has robust cloud synchronization and data backup. So you can easily sync and access data such as passwords, browsing history, bookmarks, and more from other devices on your Windows XP computer, and vice versa.
Also, because of its Chromium engine, Windows XP users can enjoy the full functionality of modern browsers by installing plugins. The web browser supports the Chrome add-ons library. So you can install themes or extensions to pimp out the browser to your preference.
Interesting Comparison: Brave vs Opera
Open source projects are often a form of protest against their commercial counterpart. Otter Browser, one of the best browsers you can install on Windows XP in 2021, is no different. Reportedly, in pursuit of quarterly profits, Opera Software switched from the Presto layout engine to Webkit and Blink engine.
Opera fans did not take kindly to the change, which led to Otter Browser’s creation by Michael Dutkiewicz. It is an open-source web browser that is completely free and available on practically every platform, from Linux and OpenBSD to macOS and RISC OS.
The software is based on Qt WebEngine and QtWebKit. It has been around since 2014, receiving support and updates from a dedicated developer community and user base. The browser is built to resemble early versions of Opera while making everything else modern and fully integrated with desktop environments.
Besides the fact it is not tied to a corporate entity, Otter Browser maintains its presence thanks to its modular model. This enables users to replace components with their preferred designs.
If this sounds like Otter Browser is for advanced users, that is because it is. But that is not to say it cannot do a good job for anyone with an old Windows XP they want to bring back to life.
The browser comes with features for regular users like a password manager, URL completion, speed dial. There is also an addon manager, spell check, customizable GUI, and bookmarks.
Otter Browser is also very committed to privacy. It uses DuckDuckGo as its default search engine and has in-built content blocking tools that prevent ads and cookie tracking.
Overall, if you want a taste of old-school Opera with modern capabilities and improved privacy and security features, Otter is worth considering.
Also Read: Opera vs Vivaldi
Are you looking for a US-made lightweight alternative to Google Chrome for your Windows XP that is just as fast? Slimjet Browser might just be what you are looking for. Built by FlashPeak Inc, an Austin, Texas company, it is a tabbed multiple-site web browser that offers practically everything you need from a browser.
The company built the browser on the popular and fast Blink engine. Despite the low specs of your old computer, the browser offers a shorter loading time, quick browser startup, and a responsive UI.
Its impressive speed also extends to its in-built download manager. The feature uses multiple parallel connections, allowing you to download files up to 12x faster than the average rate. It also enables you to pause and resume downloads between sessions without starting all over again.
Speaking of downloads, the browser also has an in-built YouTube video downloader. You can download any YouTube video to your hard drive in any resolution or format and extract mp3 files from the downloaded video file.
Other media-related features include an online video recorder and Photo Salon. The former allows you to record any dynamic content on a web page and save it on your local drive. The latter supports photo editing, including filter effects and frames.
Beyond that, the Slimjet browser comes with its own adblocker. So you don’t have to install a third-party extension for this specific purpose. It also offers social media integration for Facebook – a nice feature to use if you are bringing that old computer to life for use by an older loved one.
These are on top of standard browser features like plugin and extension store, language translation, auto form filler, and customizable toolbar.
Check Out: Brave vs DuckDuckGo
The Basilisk browser is another excellent alternative for your old Windows computer. Developed by the same team behind Pale Moon, it is a free and open-source XUL-based web browser. Unlike Pale Moon, which is well into its development, Basilisk is still a project in development, aka in beta mode.
Regardless, regular and advanced users can install it on their computers as long as they don’t mind occasional crashes and defects. (For something more stable, you can check any other option on this list.)
The developers built Basilisk using the Goanna engine and thus, bears a close resemblance to Mozilla Firefox. The similarities are not just in code only. They also share a similar interface, making it easy for anyone new to the web browser to use.
Expectedly, it is a lightweight web browser with an installation file size of 45MB. It is easy to install, and it is compatible with Windows XP 64-bit OS. In other words, you should have no trouble installing it on your low specs computer.
Basilisk has a wide array of features that got it a place on this list despite its size. That includes a clear and understandable interface that gives web pages extensive real estate on the browser’s UI. There is also an add-on manager for extending the browser’s functionality with extensions.
It also has several features that have been discontinued on newer versions of Firefox. This includes the classic title bar and menu, bookmarks toolbar with default homepage, and app menu.
Also Read: Brave Browser Review
Last but not least is Mypal, a Pale Moon derivative designed to run on Windows XP computers. Its creator(s) developed it to be a reliable and secure browser for the Windows OS. As a result, users receive regular automatic updates just like browsers on newer Windows versions.
Like several options on this list, it is based on a fork of earlier versions of Mozilla Firefox, specifically Firefox 52. The software is available in 32-bit and 64-bit, expanding the number of supported devices.
It also requires little RAM and ROM commitment from users. The installation file is 36MB, and it requires less than 300MB RAM space. The browser achieves this by running exclusively in single-process mode.
Besides its technical specs, Mypal has qualities that make it a great browser for Windows XP in 2021. Its default search engine is DuckDuckGo, useful for filterless search. As part of its effort to make up for the lack of security updates on XP, it is also possible to configure Mypal to never remember history, like incognito mode.
The web browser also comes with anti-trackers and users receive alerts when a website tries to install add-ons. Overall, Mypal offers five security levels for users to choose from depending on their needs.
Furthermore, Mypal supports extensions from Pale Moon and legacy Firefox extensions. You can install popular extensions like Ad-block plus and NoScript on the browser to extend its capabilities. You can also customize the interface by installing pre-made themes.
Explore: Vivaldi Browser Review
The lack of official support for Windows XP from mainstream software companies and a negligible user base means the operating system has limited web browser options.
Of the available options, some are free and open-source, made by developers with personal interests in keeping the OS alive. Others are from corporate entities who are still providing for the OS.
However, of the options available, Opera 36 is the overall best. While Opera Software no longer supports it, the version has enough features to counter the dangers from the lack of updates. In-built tools like VPN and an ad blocker ensure user privacy and that pages load faster.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing.
Tom has been a full-time internet marketer for two decades now, earning millions of dollars while living life on his own terms. Along the way, he’s also coached thousands of other people to success.