If you choose the View URL as Web Page option in the Activation Window, then activating a row will display the web page whose URL is in one of the columns in a web browser. You are given the option of what browser you would like to use in this case.
The default basic browser option uses a simple browser which can view HTML or plain text pages and has forward and back buttons which work as you'd expect. In many cases this is fine for viewing HTML pages, and it is available regardless of the system that you are running TOPCAT on. It looks like this:
Basic HTML browser
In some circumstances, it's possible to use your normal web browser for web page display instead. The list of browsers currently includes Firefox, Mozilla and Netscape as well as the basic one. Selecting these will generally only work if (1) the browser you select is installed and on your path, (2) you're on some Unix-like operating system, (3) the browser is already running when the action is invoked. In this case, the selected URL should be displayed in an existing browser window rather than opening a new one. Doing it this way has the advantage that your browser can probably display many types of document (perhaps using plugins) as well as HTML.