Is Firefox For Everyone?

Category: Browsers

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...

Firefox vs. Internet Explorer

"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 security. Firefox has not proven to be immune to security breaches, and 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. In fact, the Mozilla Security Advisories page lists several DOZEN flaws of High or Critical severity in the past year.

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 the new Internet Explorer v7 comes with a focus on security and a set of enhanced privacy and security features. So to me, the security issue is a big red herring.

It's annoying to me that some 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 complained in the past about not being able to combine toolbars. In previous versions of Firefox, toolbars that only consumed a portion of a line had to be there all alone, wasting valuable screen space. Thankfully, this has been fixed, so users can put two more more toolbars on a single line.

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 for some users.

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. (But IE7 has tabs now, too...) 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. :-)

Got comments on the Firefox vs. IE debate? Tell me why YOU like Firefox! Post your comments below...

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Most recent comments on "Is Firefox For Everyone?"

(See all 97 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

George Halbig
15 Nov 2006

I have a Win 2000 Pro OS. I've been using Firefox for some time now. Even when I need IE for banking or credic cards I can switch to IE within Firefox. Please note that IE7 does not load in 2000 Pro. George

Posted by:

16 Nov 2006

I've been using Firefox for almost 2 years without major problems on either my PC (XP Pro) or my Mac (Tiger). I started using it for StumbleUpon, but I stayed with it for its versatility & simplicity. I use IE only when I have to (rarely). I just had a bad experience with IE7 on the PC & had to uninstall it. I'm still trying to clean up that mess. ~Vikki

Posted by:

16 Nov 2006

I've used Firefox since it was introduced and like it. Now using Firefox 2.0. Have kept IE updated, but only for Windows Updates. Decided to update to IE 7 but discovered it has the genuine Windows "reminder" nag slipped in as part of the install. No thanks.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Why would you object to that, unless you're using an illegal copy of Windows? The verification step takes just a few seconds...

Posted by:

Moonlight Gambler
16 Nov 2006

Why all the fuss over whether to use the second or third safest browser? Why not use the safest browser and the one that invented tabbed browsing & a host of other features?

Which browser is that? Opera. It's got everything everyone wants; end of story! Download it,(, learn how to use it, and see how redundant the whole Firefox Vs IE argument has become.

EDITOR'S NOTE:I think this highlights the importance of picking a GOOD NAME for a product. There was a time when Opera was gaining ground as an alternative to IE, and Firefox was not even a glimmer on the horizon. Version 1.0 of Firebird/Firefox came out in Nov 2004 and the popularity of Opera faded quickly. Cool name Vs. Notcool name? I think that's part of it.

Posted by:

Dave in Indy
16 Nov 2006

I have Firefox on my PC and IE6. I do not see what all the fuss is about with Firefox. Sure it has tabs, but I don't care. It works much differently, when downloading video clips and seems much slower, in general. As far as tabs go, I don't need them. I just open up new browser windows in IE6 (and have been doing it that way for years), then I just ALT+Tab between open windows.

The weakest argument that I have seen for Firefox is it is "Anti-Microsoft." Surely you can do better than that.

Posted by:

16 Nov 2006

Don't you love people who complain about exploits against Gecko apps but never mention the time-to-patch differential compared to IE?

Maybe the boys should adopt a system

whereby the **Running Script can be recompiled** part (the text beside the red/orange/yellow warning of severity) gets highlighted in GREEN as soon as the patch is issued.

...then challenge M$ to do the same --and have a neutral party who gets ALL reports of bugs maintain the page comparing the open source apps with M$'s.

Posted by:

Gustavo Diogenes
16 Nov 2006

I've been a MS + IE user most of my life, and a few years ago I switched to Opera because in that time I couldn't afford a Pentium processor, 1GB of RAM and superfast drives. Opera did run veeery fast compared to IE, but also had problems with a lot of websites, and that's when I tried Firefox and have been using it since then. My top reasons: No Spyware, No Pop-ups, Great Plugins, Mouse Gestures, Pause and resume downloads, Tabs

These days I'm using OSX and althought I have Safari, Opera and FF 2 installed, FF is still the one I use the most. I think that the options are out there, and they're all free. Install, use and choose the one that feels better for you.

Posted by:

17 Nov 2006

Months ago I noticed that ie6 was loading sites in a sluggish manner. I mentioned this to my kids who suggested Firefox -- solved the problem. When ie7 was in beta, I tried it for a few hours. It made my email system (not outlook or express) useless. Functionality returned when I uninstalled ie7 beta. I won't try again.

Posted by:

17 Nov 2006

I like Firefox for all the reasons others like Firefox. I installed IE 7 because I wanted the latest update and also wanted to see if I liked the new version. However, it rendered my HP scanner software inoperable. I uninstalled IE 7 and the scanner worked fine. HP tells me they are working on a patch, to come out in the "next month or two." So I'll keep on liking and using Firefox - it doesn't cause similar problems.

Posted by:

17 Nov 2006

Like several other commenters, I'm Mac-based here in my home office and so IE is not an option (thumb on nose and fingers wiggling in the direction of Redmond WA). Something about Safari irritates me...can't quite put my finger on it. Recent Firefox updates have solved most of my early complaints, so it's the browser I use day in and day out. However, I'd welcome suggestions about other Mac-friendly browsers that will work with all but the most-IE centric websites. There are still some of those out there... come on! Get with the 21st Century!

Posted by:

18 Nov 2006

Been using Firefox for quite a while; just upgraded IE and I hate it even more than I did before. Firefox just flat runs faster and smoother on my Dells than IE does--Firefox will load several pages while IE is halfway thru one.

Posted by:

Tim Walker
19 Nov 2006

I use IE as my primary because of compatibility issues. But I like the feel and look of Firefox and the load time is better. While Firefox isn't compatibility with every site, it does load faster and the fixes seem to come quicker.

Posted by:

28 Nov 2006

I've used everything but netscape, and I prefer Opera over firefox mainly becuase of a firefox bug that pissed me off a while back, to make a long story short, it kept on crashing, it'll probably work now but I can't bother installing it again,I prefer opera because, it's quicker to load styles, it has nice addy's kinda like firefox but better, and widgets. And it's now free, and yes, free as in beer.

Posted by:

06 Dec 2006

I have noticed that my Acrobat reader crashes when I open a pdf file using Firefox. With IE 6 I can read a pdf file. So I have to switch to IE6 when I get a pdf file in my email box. Gu-ha

EDITOR'S NOTE: I recommend Fox-it Reader as a good (fast) alternative to Acrobat.

Posted by:

Matt B
30 Dec 2006

I have been using Firefox for over a year now, and Mozilla before that. I far preferred Firefox to the old IE. I recently installed IE 7 and I have to admit that is has the most obnoxious interface I've ever encountered in a major market product. I will continue to keep it up to date because there are some sites that just require it. I will also continue to use Firefox as my primary browser. It works better for me, it's not as much of a security issue, and most of all, I like it.

I have mixed feelings about MS, but none about their browser. For my use and habits, it is a poorly designed effort on the part of Microsoft to lock in the market. I will continue to use Firefox as my primary browser until a better one comes along. I sincerely doubt that better product will be produced by Microsoft.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Interesting... I've been using both FF and IE7 on side-by-side monitors for a few weeks. I was just thinking how interesting it was that they are so SIMILAR. For basic browing and use of tabs I don't think most people would see a big difference. What do you see as "obnoxious" about IE7?

Posted by:

Carlos Legarda
14 Feb 2007

IE is so similar to Firefox because Microsoft copied Firefox. Just like they're copying Mac OS with Vista. They work so hard at making it difficult for other people to copy they're work but they themselves copy others all the time. What a monolithic monopolistic hypocrite. Stick to Linux and Mac OS.

Posted by:

Alan Cobinski
05 Jul 2007

IE sucks. it's the worst browser out there. anything is better. personally i don't like Safari very much, though. Opera 9 is my favorite and FX2 is second. NN9 is also very good because it's an exact replica of FX2 (execpt for the color scheme) IE7 just copied everything from FX2 and Vista is a complete ripoff of 10.4 Tiger. i can't wait to see what's happened by the end of '07, Firefox will continue to destroy IE and Leopard will come out. DEATH TO THE IMPERIALIST OPPRESSORS!

Posted by:

21 Aug 2009

My friend got me to try Firefox and I use it almost exclusively now. Personally, I like the that I can customize my browser with the Add-ons.

Posted by:

03 Sep 2009

I used firefox exclsivly.
I love the cool addons like Cool iris and Flash Blocker. The latter is invaluable when surfing sites as it automaticaly blocks any flash ads and other crap that tries to pop up. This makes for a faster and more pleasant browsing experience. I also love the new skins. Recently i have had to use IE and i can't wait to get back to the fox :).
Good on you Mozillia, keep up the good work.

Posted by:

01 Apr 2011

I like to use Firefox when IE is acting funny. But I mostly use IE now since ALL PC's have IE as the default. You never see Firefox as default prgrammed on a Window's PC. I'm sticking with IE because everyone has used it so why ditch the browser that made Windows where it is today.

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