Saturday, March 04, 2006

Is Firefox For Everyone?

Oh my... I can see the rotten tomatoes flying my way already. But I have a confession to make. I've tried Firefox on numerous occasions but I'm sticking with Internet Explorer, at least for now...

"I Use Internet Explorer, And I Feel Fine!"

Why? There are a bunch of reasons. First off, I'm just not convinced that Firefox is any guarantee of better online safety. Sure, there have been some nasty bugs in Explorer, but if you run Windows Update on autopilot, along with up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software, there are no serious exposures that I'm aware of.

And Firefox has not proven to be immune to security breaches. If you're not running the very latest version, you could be at risk. As Firefox grows in popularity, it will become a more interesting target for hackers and crackers. In other words, as more people begin to use Firefox, there will be more security bugs uncovered.


Another biggie: There is no way to combine toolbars. With IE, one can conserve screen real estate by putting two more more toolbars on a single line. In Firefox, toolbars that only consume a portion of a line have to be there all alone. It's a waste of screen space.

I also am annoyed that the fonts display differently on Firefox. Come on... Arial 11-pt should look the same no matter what program is running. And CSS elements just don't render correctly in some cases. Oh, I hear the shrill cries. "But Firefox is 100% CSS compliant! It's IE that has all the CSS bugs." Sorry, do a little searching and you'll see there are plenty of CSS rendering (not compliance) anomalies on both sides of the browser fence.

I've also had numerous problems installing plugins. Firefox keeps telling me to install Internet Explorer, the Windows Media Player and other stuff I already have, just to make some silly plugin work. (And ummm, isn't the whole idea of using Firefox to GET AWAY from Explorer?) And then there's the "Firefox uses 100% of the CPU" problem, which remains unsolved.

By all means, give Firefox a try, if only to prove to yourself that you can live without Microsoft owning everything on your desktop. I don't deny that Firefox is an excellent browser, and it has some cool features like tabbed browsing that you may love. And I'll admit that it may be a better choice for some users. For not me, at least not yet. If it's any consolation, I did switch from Outlook Express to Thunderbird. :-)

BOB RANKIN... is a tech writer and computer programmer who enjoys exploring the Internet and sharing the fruit of his experience with others. His work has appeared in ComputerWorld, NetGuide, and NY Newsday. Bob is publisher of the Internet TOURBUS newsletter, author of several computer books, and creator of the website.


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