From tomorrow's Wall Street Journal

Discussion in 'Firefox' started by Flatus Ohlfahrt, Dec 30, 2004.

  1. Security, Cool Features
    Of Firefox Web Browser
    Beat Microsoft's IE
    December 30, 2004

    Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser is one of the most
    important, and most often used, programs on the world's personal
    computers, relied upon by more than 90% of Windows users. But
    Microsoft hasn't made any important functional improvements in
    Internet Explorer for years.

    The software giant has folded IE into the Windows operating
    system, and the browser only receives updates as part of the
    "Windows update" process. In recent years, most upgrades to IE
    have been under-the-hood patches to plug the many security holes
    that have made IE a major conduit for hackers, virus writers and
    spyware purveyors. The only visible feature added to IE
    recently: a pop-up ad blocker, which arrived long after other
    browsers had one.

    Meanwhile, other people have been building much better browsers,
    just as Microsoft itself did in the 1990s, when it challenged
    and eventually bested the then-dominant browser, Netscape
    Navigator. The most significant of these challengers is Firefox,
    a free product of an open-source organization called Mozilla,
    available for download at www.mozilla.org1. Firefox is both more
    secure and more modern than IE, and it comes packed with user-
    friendly features the Microsoft browser can't touch.

    Firefox still has a tiny market share. But millions of people
    have downloaded it recently. I've been using it for months, and
    I recommended back in September that users switch to it from IE
    as a security measure. It's available in nearly identical
    versions for Windows, the Apple Macintosh, and the Linux
    operating system.

    There are some other browsers that put IE to shame. Apple's
    elegant Safari browser, included free on every Mac, is one. But
    it isn't available for Windows. The Opera browser is loaded with
    bells and whistles, but I find it pretty complicated. And
    NetCaptor, my former favorite, is very nice. But since it's
    based on the IE Web-browsing engine, it's vulnerable to most of
    IE's security problems.

    Firefox, which uses a different underlying browsing engine
    called "Gecko," also has a couple of close cousins based on the
    same engine. One is Netscape, now owned by America Online. The
    other is a browser called Mozilla, from the same group that
    created Firefox. But Firefox is smaller, sleeker and newer than
    either of its relatives, although a new Netscape version is in
    the works.

    Firefox isn't totally secure -- no browser can be, especially if
    it runs on Windows, which has major security problems and is the
    world's top digital target. But Firefox has better security and
    privacy than IE. One big reason is that it won't run programs
    called "ActiveX controls," a Microsoft technology used in IE.
    These programs are used for many good things, but they have
    become such powerful tools for criminals and hackers that their
    potential for harm outweighs their benefits.

    Firefox also has easier, quicker and clearer methods than IE
    does for covering your online tracks, if you so choose. And it
    has a better built-in pop-up ad blocker than IE.

    But my favorite aspect of Firefox is tabbed browsing, a Web-
    surfing revolution that is shared by all the major new browsers
    but is absent from IE. With tabbed browsing, you can open many
    Web pages at once in the same browser window. Each is accessed
    by a tab.

    The benefits of tabbed browsing hit home when you create folders
    of related bookmarks. For instance, on my computer I have a
    folder of a dozen technology-news bookmarks and another 20 or so
    bookmarks pointing to political Web sites. A third folder
    contains 15 or so bookmarks for sites devoted to the World
    Champion Boston Red Sox. With one click, I can open the entire
    contents of these folders in tabs, in the same single window,
    allowing me to survey entire fields of interest.

    And Firefox can recognize and use Web sites that employ a new
    technology called "RSS" to create and update summaries of their
    contents. When Firefox encounters an RSS site, it displays a
    special icon that allows you to create a "live" bookmark to the
    site. These bookmarks then display updated headlines of stories
    on the sites.

    Firefox also includes a permanent, handy search box that can be
    used to type in searches on Google, Yahoo, Amazon or other
    search sites without installing a special toolbar.

    And it has a cool feature called "Extensions." These are small
    add-on modules, easy to download and install, that give the
    browser new features. Among the extensions I use are one that
    automatically fills out forms and another that tests the speed
    of my Web connection. You can also download "themes," which
    change the browser's looks.

    There is only one significant downside to Firefox. Some Web
    sites, especially financial ones, have chosen to tailor
    themselves specifically for Internet Explorer. They rely on
    features only present in IE, and either won't work or work
    poorly in Firefox and other browsers.

    Luckily, even if you switch to Firefox, you can still keep IE
    around to view just these incompatible sites. (In fact,
    Microsoft makes it impossible to fully uninstall IE.) There's
    even an extension for Firefox that adds an option called "View
    This Page in IE."

    So Firefox is my current choice of a Windows Web browser. It is
    to IE in 2004 what IE was to Netscape in 1996 -- the upstart
    that does a better job.

    Write to Walter S. Mossberg at
    Flatus Ohlfahrt, Dec 30, 2004
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  2. Flatus Ohlfahrt

    GK Guest

    Very nice. Very reassuring.


    GK, Dec 30, 2004
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  3. Flatus Ohlfahrt

    Arne Guest


    Yes it is. But as a Mozilla Suit fan I don't like the total focus in
    Firefox only. Even in this article, where it says:

    /But Firefox is smaller, sleeker and newer than either of its
    relatives, although a new Netscape version is in the works./

    Of cause its 'smaller and sleeker', since there is no mail app built
    in! The article don't mention that Mozilla and Netscpae have that. If
    you have Firefox, you must have a separarate mail app. and the total
    'weight' of e.g. Ff and Tb is just as much as Mozilla Suit.


    The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything and the
    young know everything. (Oscar Wilde)
    Arne, Dec 30, 2004
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