Saturday, August 27, 2005

Firefox: The Best Browser Ever


I’m in the mood for hyperboles. Firefox is indeed a great browser. Maybe not the best browser ever but it is pretty damn close by providing the feature set I need and want without Internet Explorer’s security holes, pop-ups and sameness.

Those who know me personally know my dislike for Microsoft products. While the company from a business standpoint is brilliant and exemplifies the greatest strength of American ingenuity, forward-looking nature and adaptability, describing their products, especially their browser is something else entirely.

I was one of the earlier adopters to the Internet and I started browsing using Netscape’s Navigator 1.0. When Microsoft decided that Netscape was a threat to its OS dominance and attacked Netscape by offering a free browser, the business side of it was a brilliant move and I would say, benefited consumers by turning browsers into free applications, rather than Netscape’s old strategy of having consumers buy them. I supported Netscape up until their Netscape Communicator line of browsers/e-mail programs but by the late 90s, Netscape had lost it completely. Their business model was ruined and they played second fiddle to Microsoft in the features and usability race. The Internet Explorer became more desirable to me as a means to navigating the web because for a time, it was actually better than the alternative, mainly, Netscape’s browser.

However, the dominance of the Internet Explorer has robbed Internet users from innovation. When was the last time Microsoft did something substantial to change your surfing experience? While small rival browsers like Opera, which a Microsoft tech support personnel unabashedly told me was a superior browser [to IE], pushed for new features such as tabbed browsing, Internet Explorer had been essentially unchanged for years. The security holes, pop-ups, exploits only added to my insecurity and disdain for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

Enter Firefox. As the upstart attacking the Internet Explorer market, it has done exceedingly well. It is truly the first meaningful challenger to Microsoft. It has successfully managed to erode away Internet Explorer’s market share and has forced Microsoft to develop IE 7.0, complete with a new, more colourful, logo to compete with Firefox. But unlike Netscape, Firefox is not the one under attack. It has no business model to defend and I fully expect the fire to spread.

As an open source browser, there are add-ons galore for Firefox. The browser’s security holes are found and fixed quickly. It has borrowed Opera’s innovation of tabbed browsing into its features, has a robust pop-up blocker and is far more secure than Internet Explorer. As an example of its strength among the net savvy users, not including my visits, 50% of Monkey Dew readers browse this blog through one of the several versions of Firefox browsers. The Internet Explorer 6.0 came a close second at 48.8%.

I encourage everyone to grab Firefox as soon as possible. And for Microsoft Outlook users who are tired of viruses exploiting Outlook’s many weaknesses, get the Firefox compatible Thunderbird as well for safer more secure e-mail reading. For those wondering why I’m so open in my support of Firefox and Thunderbird, it isn’t about spite against Microsoft, Firefox and Thunderbird are simply superior products.

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