Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Browser Out-Geeking

I am a Mozilla Firefox convert. I admit it.

I do all my web development for an Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE)-mandated company, so the only real criterion that I have to meet for browser compliance is that it works in IE. And I'm a Firefox convert.

Tripp has opined on this discovery recently himself. Preach on brotha.

Moving away from IE for my main browser is a big deal: IE won the browser wars; it owns over 97% of the market share; it's the de facto standard. But Firefox is invulnerable to all the myriad nuggets of spyware, script viruses, adware, and other 'malware' nasties that are out there, simply because it's not IE.

I've tried a number of IE extensions and shells, of which my favorite is Avant Browser. It has the benefit of actually using the IE renderer, and it's got most of the goodies Firefox does, including popup blocking, ad blocking and many other niceties. I've never infected a box, never served as a vector for malware.

I'm low-risk, and I practice safe browsing. Why have I switched?

Because Firefox just works. Avant Browser is a smooth, smooth product, but it doesn't catch everything the Net throws at it, and it doesn't quite offer the customization ability that Firefox does, or the granularity of ad-blocking. After a day or so of serious tuning, I almost never see an ad, and for the most part Firefox flows the text around neatly rather than leaving gaping "ad holes." That means no 'oops, I blocked it and it showed anyway' like Avant occasionally throws, no 'oops, the window popped up anyway,' and no locking into an all-browsers-open-in-one-window MDI thing like Avant does, despite offering the tabbed browsing I refuse to do without.

I'm seriously impressed. There are Firefox plugins out there for all the little interface things from Avant Browser that I missed at first, and in a week of heavy use Firefox has yet to crash, which is sadly more than I can say for Avant. It's Open Source at its best, and damned if I'm not going to get the benefit of it.

From now on I browse with Firefox. I still use IE for sites that require it by using proprietary coding, but those sites are fewer and farther between than I've ever seen. My bank's site works great in Firefox. So does Blogger. I'm ashamed that the more complex sites I've written for work don't, but I'm hoping I can make any new ones comply from now on.

I'm going to put a Firefox icon in my sidebar from now on, in hopes some additional people download it and move away from IE, at least until browsing with it is no longer hazardous to the health of the average user's machine. Don't call it zealotry; call it a public service.

Get Firefox!
Get it here.


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