Thursday, June 16, 2005

Browser Wars Redux

Let the browser wars begin -- anew!

has just been selected Product of the Year by PC World.
According to their review, "This open-source program [Firefox] is streamlined, customizable, and just plain better. No wonder it has attracted millions of users in just a few months."

Is it merely a coincidence that Microsoft finally announced plans to give the aging Internet Explorer the major overhaul it has sorely needed for years? (see Microsoft PressPass for related story)

For the first time since Microsoft launched its flagship browser in 1995, Internet Explorer is actually losing market share. Between February 2004 and the end of April 2005, Firefox went from virtually zero downloads to 50 million. A lot of the credit must go to the folks at Mozilla. Established in 1998 to breathe new life into the fast-failing Netscape browser platform, it's taken a really long time, plus the utter collapse of Netscape the company, but Mozilla has finally delivered on its promise.

There are a lot of reasons why users are fleeing Microsoft's Internet Explorer, but a lot of it boils down to security. IE is notorious for its spyware, adware, viruses, and pop-ups.

Perhaps more frustrating than security leaks is the fact that Microsoft quit adding new features to its browser. The last major feature refresh for Internet Explorer dates back to August 2001 -- and it shows. Just take a look at the ITscout Blog in both Firefox and IE. It's no contest. Firefox wins hands down in terms of simple aesthetics.

Besides the more appealing rendering of HTML, Firefox offers significant feature improvements over IE, including tabbed browsing for juggling multiple Web pages, and built-in pop-up blocking to prevent ads from opening new browser windows. Other refinements include helpful managers for file downloads, integrated search bars, and more accessible controls for managing histories, cookie files, and the browser cache.

The Firefox browser does an excellent job of faithfully displaying Web pages, offers a superior user interface, and suffers fewer crashes than IE. It's also highly customizable through something called Firefox Extensions. If you haven't done so already, I strongly recommend you consider downloading and installing Firefox, if for no other reason than because the ITscout Blog looks so much prettier in Firefox than it does in IE.


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