If youâ€™re a cool power user at the cutting edge of technology youâ€™ll probably think that an article espousing the benefits of the Firefox Web browser is a bit old hat. Of course, being such a â€˜with itâ€™ techie, I was using it from version 0.7, back when it was called Firebird. But since the release of version 1.0 in November 2004 it seems like the world and his dog has caught on. Indeed, a couple of weeks ago Workmate Gordon revealed how Mozilla was actually dropping development of the Mozilla browser, after which the company was named, to concentrate on its more popular offshoot.
In fact, Firefoxâ€™s market share is currently around six to eight per cent, depending on which reports you read. Ok, itâ€™s relatively modest but itâ€™s not bad considering the amount of time itâ€™s been out and the almost total dominance of Internet Explorer.
It certainly seems to have kick-started Microsoft into action with the company bringing forward the release of IE7 to this summer when it was originally only slated to make an appearance with the release of Longhorn in 2006. This is another example of Microsoftâ€™s typically lethargic approach of only responding to the market when it feels its dominant position is being threatened.
Here a Microsoft spokesman describes IE7 as being the most secure Microsoft Web browser ever released. Now, itâ€™s easy to mock â€“ so I will. Slow handclap all round - this really isnâ€™t saying much, is it Microsoft?.
But why wait for IE7?
One of the key reasons people are switching to Firefox is security, and thatâ€™s a big issue right now. Of the frequent and continual updates available for Windows XP, a large number of them are to patch holes found in Internet Explorer that unchecked enable the unscrupulous to do all manner of things to your PC. One of the most prevalent is the browser hijack â€“ which Workmate Riyad fell victim too and wrote about here. It was a good thing he did too, as my Dadâ€™s laptop suffered the same fate, not once, but twice and his column pointed me to a handy utility to remove it. But even though I didn't have to totally reformat the laptop the second time, I decided to avoid the whole issue by installing Firefox.
However, the best laid plans of mice and men arenâ€™t strong enough to get past my Dad - who promptly uninstalled it. Why? I hadnâ€™t set up Firefox with the same default opening page as IE â€“ and not knowing how to correct this he choose the rather napalm-like remedy of removing Firefox altogether. The irony that heâ€™d never before had the confidence to so much as move the mouse without calling me first but was now able to uninstall an application, wasnâ€™t lost on me, but I wasnâ€™t amused.
But Dad wasnâ€™t the only one who seemed to be reluctant to make the switch. Iâ€™ve been trying to convince Workmate Jalal to convert for ages. The main feature that heâ€™d benefit from is tabbed browsing, which enables you to quickly switch between multiple Web pages, within the browser. Instead, he insists on filling up his entire task bar with scores of different IE windows, which of course looks ridiculous.
(Update - Jalal would like to add the phrase "each to their own". Yeah...whatever ;-)).