Download of the Month – Mozilla Firefox

When the Firefox web browser, which is currently in pre-release status, was released, Mozilla set themselves an ambitious target – a million downloads in ten days. Ten days later they had blown past the three-million mark. The download is a svelte 4.5MB, which is a harbinger of things to come…

Installation is fast and easy. Firefox plays nice with other browsers, and I have had no trouble running it alongside Internet Explorer.

All of the usual suspects are present, along with what I consider to be two killer features.

The first of these is Tabbed Browsing. This means that you can open multiple browsers in one window. I find that setting middle-click to open in a new tab makes things easier – you can go through a page of links opening the interesting ones in new tabs, then when you have exhausted the page you can close it an review the tabs one at a time. This makes web research so much more powerful. The only downside of this is that you find yourself middle-clicking in Internet Explorer and wondering why nothing happens.

The second killer feature is RSS bookmarks. Think of this as dynamic bookmarks – this means that (for instance) you always have the latest BBC News headlines without having to go to their web page. As more and more websites adopt RSS this will become more and more significant.

In use the browser is just as fast as IE, if not slightly faster. It takes markedly longer to initialize (load the first time) than IE and has a larger memory footprint. While this makes IE sound more efficient, it should be remembered that bits of IE are “preloaded” with the OS, so the comparison is not really fair.

Although this is a pre-release version I have found it to be as fast and stable as IE… but without the security holes that infest Microsoft’s browser due to its “integration” with the Operating System (while I have no problem with IE being bundled with Windows, the much-ballyhooed “integration” has served to make IE a vector for OS corruption… but that is a whole ‘nother story.

Installing a security upgrade was a piece of cake; the browser told me that it needed an upgrade and walked me through the process – it really is a no-brainer. Experience has shown me that users do not respond to requests for them to update their software (they prefer to wait until it is too late and them loudly lament their lost work and wasted effort).

Bottom line: I have been using Firefox for two weeks or so, and I have been extremely impressed with it. Firefox is now my default browser in spite of Microsoft’s efforts to persuade me otherwise.

So what are you waiting for? Get Firefox!

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