April 2005

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FireFox – Improved Browser or just an Alternative to Internet Explorer?

  Kelly Sinclair, AutomatedBuildings.com

Since its début last November, an estimated 27 million users have adopted--or at least downloaded--Firefox (www.mozilla.com). Currently consumers and small businesses represent the bulk of the user base, but Firefox is also gaining traction among larger enterprises. For organizations that have already embraced Linux web servers and other open-source deployments, Firefox seems to be the next logical step in moving away from Microsoft-based operations and positive feedback from users confirms the speed, security and features of Firefox are worth a look.

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How can Firefox be more secure than Internet Explorer?

  • It is not integrated with Windows, which helps prevent viruses and hackers from causing damage if they somehow manage to compromise Firefox.

  • There is no support for VBScript and ActiveX, two technologies which are the reasons for many IE security holes.

  • No spyware/ adware software can automatically install in Firefox just by visiting a web site.

  • Firefox doesn't use Microsoft's Java VM, which has a history of more flaws than other Java VMs.

  • You have complete control over cookies.

As Firefox's market share increases, hackers will be more likely to exploit heretofore-unknown security holes, as they've done with Internet Explorer.

FAST FAST FASTER!!!!!  You may not have noticed how long your current browser takes to load, until you try Firefox.  It loads fast, period.  When Firefox settings are optimized with a freeware application called FireTune your browser loads even faster.  FireTune includes all the performance optimizations and simplifies manual configurations, which can be time consuming and difficult for the novice user.

Popup Blocking - Stop annoying popup ads in their tracks with Firebox’s built in popup blocker.

Tabbed Browsing - View more than one web page in a single window with this time saving feature. Open links in the background so that they're ready for viewing when you're ready to read them. You can also refresh multiple windows at the same time.

Search Smarter,  - Google Search is built right into the toolbar, and there is a plethora of other search tools including Smart Keywords (type "dict <word>" in the Location bar), and the new Find bar (which finds text as you type without covering up anything).

Live Bookmarks - RSS integration lets you read the latest news headlines and read updates to your favorite sites that are syndicated.

contemporary Hassle-Free Downloading - Files you download are automatically saved to your Desktop so they're easy to find. Fewer prompts mean files download quicker.

S, M, L or XL—It's Your Choice - Firefox is the most customizable browser on the planet. Customize your toolbars to add additional buttons, install new Extensions that add new features, add new Themes to browse with style, and use the adaptive search system to allow you to search an infinite number of engines. Firefox is as big or small as you want.

Cons of Firefox:

Some pages may cause the browser to not work properly, but that has to do with Microsoft-specific programming. As more people break away from IE, more web pages will definitely start developing Mozilla compliant programming. Open source applications allow developers to create and implement solutions quickly.  Also, downloading the extensions may be a bit intimidating to people who are not computer literate. Still, the vast amount of features that these extensions have in them make the learning very worthwhile.  Many sites that block Firefox do so because they have technology that specifically exploits Internet Explorer with Spyware and other utilities. If it's a specialized website that you need access to, you'll have to use Internet Explorer or another browser that is compatible with your computing platform. For ease of browsing, you can install an extension that adds 'Open with Internet Explorer' to the context menu within Firefox. 

“Microsoft now appears to be taking a more proactive approach to its own browser development. Internet Explorer 7, originally slated to debut inside the new Longhorn operating system, is scheduled for a 2006 release. But at last month's RSA Conference 2005, Bill Gates announced plans to ship an IE7 beta as early as this summer. Although the company denies that Firefox was the catalyst for this decision.”


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