Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Firefox 1.5 vs. Internet Explorer 7 - It Is A Matter Of Trust

By Coenraad De Beer

Firefox has been around for a much shorter time than Internet Explorer and still it is much more secure and reliable. Microsoft has released the newest version of their web browser, Internet Explorer 7 Release Candidate 1. Already you can see complaints everywhere about bugs and problems experienced by people who upgraded to the newest version. Internet Explorer 7 boasts an array of new features, but almost all of them have been around in Mozilla Firefox for quite some time.

I guess the one feature Microsoft is bragging with the most is the new tabbed browsing interface. This is nothing new to Firefox users and I would rather trust a browser that has been using this feature for a couple of years because it had enough time to straighten out all the bugs and problems associated with it. Internet Explorer 7 is new to the world of tabbed browsing and one wonders how many problems will one experience with this feature before Microsoft gets it right. I’m not saying that there are any problems with its tabbed browsing feature, but if they could not even get the basics right in the past one does not have much trust when they come up with a brand new feature.

Later versions of Internet Explorer 6 introduced a built-in pop-up blocker. Users of Mozilla Firefox has been enjoying pop-up blocking long before Microsoft decided to add it to their browser. With its pop-up blocking feature and enhanced security, Firefox has been much less vulnerable to virus and spyware attacks than Internet Explorer. Firefox may not be 100% secure but security issues gets fixed in a much more timely fashion than the ones in Internet Explorer. The main reason for this effective attention to bug fixes is the fact that Firefox is Open Source software. Many people argue that it poses a great security threat having your source code available to the public, because it is easier to discover and exploit vulnerabilities when you have access to the code. This may be true, but the fact that the source code is available to anyone, creates a bigger pool of software developers contributing to the development and enhancement of the software, which results in faster and more effective releases for bug fixes and security issues. You are left at the mercy of Microsoft to get the problems in Internet Explorer fixed and all of us know how slow their response sometimes are when it comes to resolving security issues.

Another feature of Internet Explorer 7 is the new anti-phishing scanner. It scans the pages you visit for the possibility of phishing scams. This is a welcomed feature for any browser because there has been an increase in phishing scams over the ears and action has to be taken against them. Now, many people may take the opportunity and throw some stones at Firefox saying that it does not have a built-in phishing scam scanner, but Internet Explorer does. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but you can add the same feature to Firefox with the Google Toolbar extension. The newest version of Google Toolbar has a feature called Google Safe Browsing that stops the user from visiting a possible phishing site. The fact that you can enhance Firefox with extensions makes it a very versatile browser.

Web developers are jumping for joy with the introduction of the Developer Toolbar in Internet Explorer 7. The toolbar includes tools that assist web developers in troubleshooting and manipulating web pages. Again you can add the same (if not better) functionality to Firefox with the Web Developer Toolbar Extension. This extension for Firefox is packed with so many features that you will ask yourself: “What can this toolbar not do?” There is also better CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) support in the newest edition of Internet Explorer compared to previous versions, but any web developer knows that Firefox has always handled CSS much better than Internet Explorer.

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds are starting to become a web standard and providing support for it is becoming inevitable. Firefox caters for RSS feeds through its Live Bookmarks and the Google Toolbar also supplies its own way of subscribing to RSS feeds through Google Fusion. Windows Vista will be geared towards RSS feeds and that is why Microsoft decided to incorporate support for RSS feeds in Internet Explorer. So once again, Firefox has been supporting this feature long before Microsoft decided to add support for it in their browser.

It took 7 versions of Internet Explorer to get it up to similar standards as Mozilla Firefox that is only at version 1.5 at the moment. Users upgrading from Internet Explorer 6 to version 7 will be introduced to new features, some may be confusing for people not used to things like tabbed browsing and RSS feeds. So if you are willing to learn new ways of browsing the Web, why not switch to Mozilla Firefox, the trustworthy browser that has been doing things right from the beginning.

About the Author
Coenraad is webmaster and founder of Cyber Top Cops, leaders in Internet security, prevention of online fraud and educating users against malicious software.

For fast, safe and secure browsing, download Mozilla Firefox with Google Toolbar.

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