Thursday, January 11, 2007

Firefox or Internet Explorer? Why Not Both?

As Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Latest News about Microsoft marketing Email Marketing Software - Free Demo mavens gear up to blitz the world on Jan. 30 with the debut of the new Vista operating system, a lot of folks are getting a glimpse of things to come by downloading -- and sometimes hating -- the new Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 Web browser.

Ironically, the release of IE 7, which I consider first rate, seems to be prompting a significant number of people to take a look at the competing free browser from called "Firefox" that now is offering its 2.0.1 version.

For IE folks, Microsoft's significant new feature now allows "tabbed" browsing, which lets you keep a string of Web pages, each available by clicking on its tab at the top of the display.

You can call up a main page showing your stock prices and then open new tabs for a page showing research on individual companies. You can also store a string of blogs, one after the other, ready to scan at will without downloading again. Tabs have been in Firefox for years.

Best of Both Worlds

Naturally, all of this has generated a bit of contention among users of Microsoft Windows where Firefox fans put down IE and users of IE 7 say they don't want to bother with changing anything on their computers that is working.

I'm an unlikely Solomon, but I do know what I would order if I were in charge: Use them both.

There's an awful lot to be gained by going through the refreshingly simple download and installation of Firefox 2 and running it alongside IE, which comes installed as part of Windows.

You'll get two advantages with dual browsers. Most significantly, you'll be amazed and pleased to learn about the great number of add-ons and extensions to Firefox that can let you do near-miraculous stuff that Microsoft either doesn't want you to do or doesn't seem to know how to do in its own right.

If One Crashes, the Other Remains

First, a relatively pedestrian benefit that can be had by running both browsers side by side: Dual browsers are better in many ways than just a line of tabs for the sake of sanity alone. The browsers' interfaces look very different so you can purse one type of stuff in one and do totally different work in the other.

I use one of the browsers for serious research and study while using the other browser when I get involved in stuff that seems at the leading edge and that might mess up the current session.

Anybody who's ever grazed their way through a herd of wildly different blogs with strange graphics, nasty sounds and weird text will appreciate the peace of mind knowing that if that browser crashes it probably will leave the other one intact.

A good example is to use IE 7 to do the fact-checking while writing a newspaper column and use a Foxfire display alongside to play videos from YouTube Latest News about YouTube, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Latest News about Google, etc.

Contrasting Displays

Actually, I seem to be in a minority of gadget lovers who tend to go nuts while doing two things at once, but it seems to be second nature for the rest of this world of iPods on the sidewalks and cell phones on the interstate.

I use the dueling browser scheme to keep things like serious news-gathering separate from the chaos of Web sites where nobody checks facts and everybody shoots from the hip. I made the Firefox display strikingly different than the IE screen by installing a skin add-on that changes the colors from Microsoft aqua to Darth Vader black.

Bottling the Stream

Now, consider using Firefox to view Web-streamed movies while working alongside in IE. This kind of stuff adds both power and enjoyment for whoever sits between the chair and the keyboard.

Foxfire's promoters at are touting a set of additional software that captures the actual video from those movies streaming from YouTube Latest News about YouTube, et al., as large computer files stored on your hard drive and available for playing when and where you choose.

This video add-on is called . When you first install Firefox, you'll be shown the way to scores of these additional feature tools for the browser. You can also find them on the Mozilla site.

It's not my gig to determine the difference between piracy and legal fair use here, but I can tell you that it's a lot easier to find and play those small and grainy movies for yourself and others when they're just a click away on the hard drive rather than located at a Web site that one must call up every time from Google's massive server farm.

This video gem of add-on amounts to a small part of what can be expected in the wake of an agreement between Mozilla Latest News about Mozilla Foundation and Adobe Systems (Nasdaq: ADBE) Latest News about Adobe that lets amateur programmers build programs that will play files in Adobe's proprietary Flash Video (FLV) format.

This makes it possible to download Web video clips and then incorporate them in PowerPoint presentations or as offerings on one's own blog or Web site.

I'm sure that the copyright attorneys are busily sharpening their pencils for the coming fight over this kind of thing, but hey, I report the news on Firefox -- you decide.


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