When did you last compare browsers?
I am frequently asked for advice about which browser is safest, so I finally put my biases aside (13 years at Microsoft) and compared Internet Explorer (IE) 7 to Firefox 2. I found that in spite of my familiarity with IE, I’ve come to agree CNET’s review that found Firefox 2 to be the better (and safer) choice. (I also reviewed Opera, but Opera’s low adoption rate and reports that it may require more tweaking than average users are comfortable with, swayed me against recommending it.)1
CNET summarizes the Firefox vs. Internet Explorer competition.
Internet Explorer’s dominance of browsing has crumpled. Browser usage statistics show that while in 2003 IE was used by over 85 percent of computers vs. Firefox’s 7.9 percent share, the tables have dramatically changed. In January 2008 IE represented only slightly over half the market at 54.7 percent compared to Firefox’s 37.2 percent.
The shift in browser preferences is largely due to the fact that IE has been slow to add new functionality and has been plagued with security and safety issues. Mozilla (the company that makes Firefox), on the other hand, has been much more responsive in addressing vulnerabilities in Firefox code when a weakness is discovered, so Firefox enjoys a stronger reputation for security than IE. Firefox also benefits from not being the dominant browser so there are fewer attacks designed against it and therefore fewer risks for you.
In playing with Firefox, I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that the warning messages are intelligible and customizing safety settings was easy.
In addition to the improved security and safety Firefox offers, there are some other really cool features that compelled me to go beyond simply testing the browser, to switching—something I hadn’t imagined would be an outcome.
Switching was easy and painless. There was no need to reboot, and it was both quick and drop dead easy to install. Firefox automatically imported all of my settings from IE in one simple step.
I like the speed; the browser itself opens in a fraction of the time I experienced with my IE browser, and Firefox is also faster at opening new Web pages. I am particularly impressed at the speed of opening Web sites, having grown accustomed to long delays on IE.
I like the stability; IE would periodically hang, and I would have to shut it down and reopen. I haven’t experienced a single glitch with Firefox or ever needed to restart it.
If you’ve ever closed a browser accidentally, suffered a power outage, or had your computer reboot on you, then you know the trouble it can be to get back to all the Web sites you had open. Not on Firefox. Even if your computer crashes, it automatically saves your session and restores all your open Web sites for you.
I like the clean look of the Firefox browser. But I also appreciated the huge opportunity to customize your content and install cool add-ons. These are small pieces of software that you can use to add new features or tiny tweaks to Firefox.
I found Firefox to be safer, faster, more stable, and full of rich features. You may want to consider changing your browser too.
7 Feb 2008
1 Note: I do not receive any funding from this company; my views are strictly my own.
5/19/2008 LOOKBOTHWAYS LLC © All Rights Reserved 2008 1