In-Depth

Time to Dump IE?

Internet Explorer is a hacker's dream. Can you (and should you) drop it right now?

Internet Explorer is the Swiss Cheese of software—it's full of holes. Holes in software are never good, but when the browser is so integrated with the OS as to be as one—you've got problems. Add to that the sheer ubiquity of the Microsoft browser, and it's no wonder IE has become the hackers' No. 1 playground.

Now we're beset by increasingly common—and dangerous—security vulnerabilities. We knew IE was integrated with Windows, but we didn't have any idea how integrated it was. Even Microsoft doesn't seem to have a firm grasp on IE's internals, judging from the weeks it took to deliver an actual fix for the recent Download.Ject Trojan.

Not to say an integrated browser is all bad. To a developer, an integrated browser is cool because it gives you a built-in HTML rendering engine. You can then write apps that use HTML, knowing that the OS can render that HTML for you. IE can begin to take over the regular Windows Explorer shell and, in fact, has become so tightly integrated with Windows Explorer that it's a bit difficult to see where the shell ends and the browser begins.

The downside is a real downer. With a regular Web browser, a security vulnerability might let someone crash the browser. With an integrated Web browser they can crash the whole operating system. The tight ties to Windows means that the slightest IE security issue becomes an OS-wide panic. It's not just IE, either: Windows Media Player, Outlook Express, and even DirectX, are all, in my opinion, overly integrated and give hackers too much access to core PC functions.

But corporate users don't spend a lot of time playing with DirectX-based games, listening to Windows Media Player, or checking e-mail with Outlook Express. They do spend a lot of time in IE, and the more they surf the more they're vulnerable to its eccentricities. That's why more than a few corporations, not to mention individual users, are looking at alternatives—any alternative—to the built-in browser.

Browsing the Alternatives
Despite dire predictions from Netscape (now a unit of America Online, which, weirdly, continues to bundle IE with its software), the market for non-Microsoft browsers didn't go away. It sure as heck got small, though, with Microsoft now commanding around 95 percent of the market, according to some sources. But the times, they are a-changin'. San Diego Web metrics company WebSideStory recently reported IE losing 1 percent of that market, the first time IE has stumbled. IE is now down to 94 percent. Who's gaining? Mozilla.

The open-source code base of the Netscape browser, Mozilla offers a couple of browsers. Mozilla 1.7 is its base product (1.8 is in beta as of this writing); Firefox (currently at 0.9) is the next-generation browser. Both are available from www.mozilla.org. Netscape also offers 7.1 of its venerable browser based on Mozilla code. It's available from www.netscape.com, but you'd better hurry: It'll be the last Netscape-branded browser AOL produces.

Figure 1. Firefox's tabbed browser
Figure 1. Firefox's tabbed browser beats the heck out of Alt+Tabbing between a clutter of browser windows. (Click image to view larger version.)

There's also the well-known Opera Web browser, currently at version 7.53, available from www.opera.com. All of the Mozilla products, including Netscape's browser, are completely free. Opera offers a free, advertising-supported browser as well as a $40 version sans ads. And those are just the Windows browsers (see online extras for more on browsers for other OSes). While these are the major contenders, others exist: Search Download.com for "Web browser" and you'll get 356 results, many of which are small-footprint, self-contained Web browsers. Be aware that some of these simply throw a new cosmetic face on Windows' built-in IE objects, meaning you're still using IE. Others are completely self-contained and count as true alternatives.

Pros and Cons of Straying From the Pack
Forgetting security for a moment, there are functional reasons to consider another browser. One of the best is tabbed browsing, something you'll love once you try. Firefox's tabbed browsing shows each Web page in a separate tab (see Figure 1), allowing you to quickly flip among pages all within one window. Ctrl+ clicking a hyperlink opens a new tab, keeping your desktop nice and manageable. You can close tabs individually and add a group of tabs to a single bookmark for later reference. Any group of bookmarks can be opened all at once, with one page per tab. It's intoxicating.

Most of the third-party browsers build in searching. You can select from an array of other search options that plug into Firefox, such as Amazon, eBay, Yahoo and more, providing robust searching right from the toolbar. Opera supports similar functionality: Typing "g browser" in the address bar will search Google for "browser."

Pop-up blocking is also built into most alternative browsers. Many IE users are already installing tools like the Google Toolbar to handle annoying pop-up ads, and Microsoft has promised integrated pop-up blocking in a forthcoming version (which must irritate the folks who run the MSN Web site, a notorious pop-up villain).

For most other functions, it's all the same. While alternative browsers don't support ActiveX controls, they do support a plug-in model based on the original Netscape Navigator's model, and there are compatible plug-ins for technologies like Flash. Many legitimate, commercial Web sites have eschewed ActiveX in recent years because of that technology's worsening reputation as a virus and Trojan vector.

You're obviously going to miss out on some functionality if you switch browsers. Anything ActiveX-based won't work, nor will sites that use client-side VBScript for dynamic HTML. Someone sitting in an ivory tower might suggest that not having VBScript and ActiveX is a good thing and that visiting sites that use them is a bad idea anyway. True, but if that Web site happens to be your internal procurement Web site, not visiting isn't really an option.

Does "Non-Microsoft" Really Mean "Secure"?
No software is secure in the absolute sense of the word. Mozilla has issued more than a few patches for its browser, as has Opera. For example, Mozilla issued a patch that stops the browser from allowing an attacker to execute applications on a Windows system—something we're used to dealing with in IE.

With this in mind, part of the reason that browsers like Mozilla are more secure is that there are fewer deployments. Attackers prefer to have a good opportunity, so in many cases they simply ignore marginal products. You can be sure that if Mozilla had a 95 percent market share, we'd see more than a few patches cropping up.

But that's not what led the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) to announce, in June, a recommendation that users stop using IE. While the advisory, posted on the CERT Web site (www.kb.cert.org), relates to a specific IE vulnerability, the advisory states that there are a "number of significant vulnerabilities in technologies relating to the IE domain/zone security model, the DHTML object model, MIME type determination and ActiveX. It is possible to reduce exposure to these vulnerabilities by using a different Web browser, especially when browsing untrusted sites." In the eyes of CERT, IE's architecture is at the heart of its security problem, not just that millions of copies are in use. The most compelling thing an alternative browser offers, therefore, is an alternative architecture, one less tightly integrated with Windows.

The patch issued by Mozilla is the first and only entry for that browser in the CERT database. Opera doesn't show up at all in CERT's records, nor does Netscape 7.1. A search of CERT's vulnerability advisories for Internet Explorer returned more than 80 results. Clearly, an alternative architecture offers some promise.

So does simplicity. The Mozilla browsers (including Firefox and Netscape) use a simple checkbox to turn off JavaScript and Java. That's it, on or off. IE has a similar capability, but it's tied to a complex system of zones. While JavaScript might be disabled for the Internet zone, an attacker who sends you an HTML file and gets you to execute it locally can attack from the more highly trusted Local zone, which by default has everything enabled. Alternative browsers, while supporting plug-ins, provide absolutely no support for ActiveX, which from a security standpoint is one of Microsoft's bigger mistakes.

There is one area in which the alternative browsers (at least, the Mozilla family) commit the same sin as Microsoft: Trusted Certification Authorities (CAs). I have a long-standing gripe with the number of CAs that Microsoft has arbitrarily decided that I trust, without providing any information on how trustworthy these CAs are or what procedures they use to verify the identities of the organizations and people they issue certificates to. I've always recommended paring that list down to the CAs you've personally investigated and decided to trust. Sadly, alternate browsers ship with a similar, extensive list of trusted CAs built in, although it's still somewhat shorter than the all-encompassing list included with the current IE.

Super-Sized Browser Manageability and Deployment
Sure, non-IE browsers may offer increased security, but when it comes to implementation, there are downsides. For example, if you're not using System Policies or Group Policy to centrally manage IE and you're not using an auto-discoverable proxy server like Microsoft ISA Server, then enterprise manageability isn't a concern for you. Unfortunately, if you are using those features, you're probably going to lose them. Nothing but IE supports the Microsoft-centric "proxy discovery" mechanism that so many companies rely on to auto-configure Web browsers. With other browsers, you have to manually configure the proxy settings the first time out, and users may have to reconfigure laptop settings when they're away from the office.

And because most alternative browsers run on more than one operating system, none make extensive use of the Windows registry. Instead, they tend to store information in a proprietary configuration file. Personally, I've always been a little skittish about the registry. Having my configuration information in one place just seems to be tempting fate. But the registry is the enabling technology behind System Policies and Group Policy. That IE goes to a certain portion of the registry for its configuration information makes it possible to centrally manage IE through registry-manipulating technologies like Group Policy. In short, you're not going to be configuring Firefox via Group Policy anytime soon. The decision to deploy an alternate browser is a decision to relinquish centralized control. That said, you may not find yourself yearning for centralized control. Without complex Security Zones and a dozen other settings, allowing users to configure their own browser preferences might not be so scary. The Firefox options dialog is pretty straightforward (this is a version back from the current release, but the newest version looks similar). Even the Advanced section's 14 settings can't hold a candle to IE's overly option-laden Advanced tab.

Deployment is another issue. Unfortunately, most of these alternative browsers are distributed as executable files, rather than the easier-to-deploy MSI packages that work so well with Group Policy's IntelliMirror features. In fact, of the most popular third-party browsers—Opera, Firefox, Mozilla and Netscape—none were available as an MSI. Of course, you could use MSI repackaging tools for easier deployment through SMS, Group Policy or some other tool, but it's a shame that these vendors haven't realized the market potential and made their products more accessible to corporate IT departments.

How Do You Ditch an "Integrated" Browser?
Ever remove IE with the Add/ Remove Programs function? You can't. In fact, you can never rid your hard drive of IE because it is completely integrated into Windows. Microsoft made that point while defending lawsuits over IE.

Today, the best you can do is to stop using IE. You can start by using the "Program Access Defaults" application that comes with the latest versions of Windows to block access to IE. This will, however, only stop IE's user interface from running; the underlying functionality, which is used in a number of Microsoft management console (MMC) snap-ins and other applications, will continue to execute. However, if your users aren't using IE to browse Web sites, they'll be much less likely to get nailed by the next vulnerability.

Which brings me to the real question: Can you live without IE? I try to use Firefox as my main browser, but I find myself firing up IE from time to time out of sheer necessity. My Web site uses Google AdSense to display context-sensitive ads to my users. The AdSense administration site works only with IE, which, if you think about it, is ironic given the competition Google is starting to face from Gates and Co. A number of companies have built intranets around IE, meaning they'll have to continue using it until those sites can be redeveloped. Given today's IT budgets, that might never happen. A number of commercial Web sites rely utterly on IE, which is something those companies may want to seriously reconsider in light of signs of waning popularity for IE (not to mention its increasing age).

Unfortunately, there are a number of ways that IE can "get ya," even if you're not using it as your Web browser. IE is basically a gigantic COM object; it can be instantiated and controlled by ActiveX controls, applications and scripts written in VBScript or JScript. Not using IE will not make you invulnerable to IE-based attacks, but not using IE will make you less likely to get those attacks into your system in the first place.

Alternative Medicine
Alternative browsers may not offer perfection, but they offer plenty of features, though with less manageability. Their security is stronger at this point, but haven't really been tested. At the very least, though, these browsers offer far less integration with the Windows operating system, making them far less likely to be an entry point for a severe, system-damaging attack.

More Information

Browsing on a Mac

Microsoft no longer produces new versions of Internet Explorer for the Mac operating system, having conceded the platform to the vastly superior Safari browser from Apple. Mozilla offers the Mac-based Camino as an alternative. But IE was never the huge security problem on Macs that it is on Windows, because it simply wasn't as well-integrated. Opera is also available for Mac, as is Netscape. It's interesting that Microsoft gave up on IE for the Mac so quickly after Apple shipped the first version of Safari (which, in additional to having modern features like tabbed browsing, is blazingly fast compared to IE for Mac OS X). Either Microsoft's heart wasn't really in the competition, or it realized that Mac owners have an almost illogical devotion to Apple that ensures they'll use Apple's browser under pretty much any circumstances.
Don Jones


Download Sites for Alternative Browsers

  • FireFox and Mozilla are available at Mozilla.org.

  • At Opera.com you can get Opera in two flavors: ad-driven freeware or purchase an ad-less licensed version.

  • If you're a Mac fan, you've probably already heard of Safari, available at Apple.com/safari

  • CNET's Download.com site lists dozens more alternative browsers, some worth trying out if you're the adventurous type.

More Articles on IE

The following articles from MCPmag.com discuss IE issues in context to the operating system:

Explore these links on the Microsoft site for IE technical issues and support:

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Reader Comments:

Fri, Apr 24, 2009 Anonymous Anonymous

Your site is very good. Thank you for the opportunity to sign your guest book.
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Thu, Apr 23, 2009 Anonymous Anonymous

Hi. All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance.
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Sun, Apr 27, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous

If you are a new computer owner and lack in experience I don't really know what you are talking about. However, I use MSN and have hade many problems with IE. So if you could explain what is meant by "tab" browers and "ActiveX" I would love to understand about other alternatives. Thats the only reason for a fair rating but you did open my eyes and crack open the "guru" attitude I had about MSN and browers. Thanks, Bettye

Thu, Jul 5, 2007 Andrew Anonymous

Firefox is not the solution to hackers, and the only valid point this article makes is that if it had a 95% market share, it would be the one looked at as the 'swiss cheese' of browsers. Someone could probably hack calc.exe into executing something if they tried long enough.. it's all about having a sure target. Stop blaming Microsoft and start finding the hackers.. and policing yourself like the user above stated.

Fri, Jun 1, 2007 Steve Nebraska

Yeah, yeah. IE bad, other stuff good. MS bad, other stuff good. I'm tired of this. No matter how bad you say IE is, I've never had a problem with it.

Tue, Oct 17, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

Let's all b*tch and moan about IE, why don't we? Perhaps if we didn't browse to "untrustworthy" sites, we'd have fewer dialers & home-page redirects invading our systems. Police your network, oh admin, i say. Implement automatic patching for all systems, use technology in conjunction with business policy to establish guidelines, be proactive and agile - and you're likely to have one of those companies that don't get affected greatly by inevitable software issues. Yes, i did say inevitable.

Fri, Jun 16, 2006 rape stories Anonymous

Need to be readed.

Thu, Aug 11, 2005 ked Anonymous

Its never too late to mend.

Tue, Aug 9, 2005 godsdragon FL, US

Not yet... My main issue right now is with Mozilla suite. I have tried downloading it but the exe file does not even show in the desktop, the software does not let me uninstall it, and the installation does not finish properly... It is giving me more of a big head ache at this time than IE ever did...

Sat, Aug 6, 2005 richard mitnick Anonymous

Why are you putting outthis Oct 2004 item in August 2005???

Sat, Aug 6, 2005 raj chennai

how to download real media player

Sat, Jul 16, 2005 Anonymous Anonymous

I Tried firefox full version after a few
day of use i did a antivirus scan with
adaware and spybot both detected
spyware quite a few of them. i did
a full scan using IE internet explorer
to make sure it was ok and it was then
when i download firefox i had spyware
i did the proper set up prier to using
firefox. i still at this point use firefox
but am thinking of going back to IE
i thought this would be better for get
about all the add ons or bells and
whistles WE ALL NEED A BETTER
WEB SEARCHING PROGRAM. WHAT
IS REQUIRED IT USE FIREFOX
SAFELEY PROS AND CONS
FROM A Concerned Internet user
My Name is DAN

Tue, Jun 28, 2005 Jeff Oakbrook, IL

Uh, Avant browser just another "throw a new cosmetic face on Windows' built-in IE objects" browser. The website you refer to makes this explicit. That's why the download is so small. So, you'd have to add up the vulnerabilities for Avant AND IE to get the full picture. But Firefox does rock. And my company has an auto-configure URL to set up Firefox to use proxies, and it is run over the network (no local installs) with profiles stored locally. So those two issues at least don't really exist anymore.

Sun, Jun 26, 2005 Daniel Anonymous

IE isn't good at all. Avant Browser is the best browser in existence in my opinion. Last time I checked the security holes and internet security sites, all Avant had was two small holes, and they are the most common found in all of the other browsers. Opera had about 5 or 7, IE 5 had over 20 and so did IE 6.

Avant isn't even listed when internet sites check for what browser I'm using, they say I'm using Mozilla and somthing 4.0 or 4.1. Avant Browser has an internal tab system and can easily hold well, over 100 plus page's. Plus its increadable Pop-ups and Ad Blockers inside it.

The download is only 1.44 mb in size, download it from its name-sake site: www.avantbrowser.com

Tue, Apr 5, 2005 Old Tenor U.S.A.

I now use FireFox and ThunderBird on 4
PC's not networked. Friends on Hotmail
told me they never received my mail.
I sent many test emails from Thunder
Bird to myself on HotMail. I've yet to
receive one. Microsoft plays dirty!!

Mon, Apr 4, 2005 kamlesh india

it is good.send me more infos..

Sun, Apr 3, 2005 Justcauz SD

If M$ where as interested in fixing the problems as they are in keeping the people from pirating they would have a good product now.
I find pirating a Microsoft product the same as dumpster diving behind McDonalds; you could get something but is it worth it? Also the problems it causes aren’t worth the effort.
When M$ makes a product worth pirating then they should beef up in that aria until that time they should stop patching and start replacing.

Fri, Feb 18, 2005 richard mitnick new jersey

this article is from October 04, why are you sending it in February 05?

Thu, Feb 10, 2005 David Washington

I cannot figure out what the fuss is all about. I have used IE since it came out and have never had a virus because of some flaw in IE. People whose machines I had to clean up picked up viruses at sites they should not have been taking a business machine to or were using faulty or no security procedures. Any product has to be use properly to function correctly. Why throw away a good product when following some simple procedures will give protection and all of its benefits?

Sun, Jan 2, 2005 Jez Anonymous

...and the above was in reply to the post at the bottom of page 1 !

Sun, Jan 2, 2005 Jez Anonymous

Sure, all software has bugs. But to make out that Firefox (or *any* non-IE-based alternative browser) has anything like the problems that IE has is just plain misleading. There's a web organisation somewhere that counts the number of security advisories, and classifies these by severity - and guess what, Microsoft's record is about 6 times worse than Mozilla's.

I'm also sceptical that there's a legitimate, serious comparison between the potential security issues caused by XBL (a tightly focused XML-style markup that manipulates *only* the Firefox DOM and GUI) versus ActiveX (a technology that runs across multiple Windows applications and effectively introduces binary executables into a browser which in turn is deeply embedded in - or according to MS is actually part of - your operating system). I'd say that's chalk and cheese, and about as meaningful as comparing the common cold with AIDS.

Sat, Dec 18, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

Instead of dumping IE you can just secure it with tools such as Qwik-Fix Pro from PivX which also secures other parts of Windows.

www.pivx.com

Firefox is a good alternative but there has been at least as many vulnerabilities in it.

Sat, Oct 23, 2004 tonyk Finland

To Dave Brown. Yes, mozilla and firefox have always had the automatic proxy configuration, but to use it, you must have inserted the http:!!wpad!wpad.dat (!=slash) manually. But firefox 1pr has changed this, and you can choose the automatic proxy configuration without the above mentioned operation and it works in the same way as IE. And this is true for every os versions. Just wonder why it took so long to implement it. (Maybe security reasons??)

Fri, Oct 15, 2004 HiFlyer Houston, Texas

Other than some quibbling from the experts out there in webworld, this is a very fine discussion of the variations in themes in browser technology. As someone who has always touted IE, I liked Maxthon and its dad, MYIE2's tabbing. I didn't like the lack of third party tool bars on it--no Yahoo--no Google tool bar. And for whatever reason my computer hung hung hung when that program was on it. As a result of reading this page, with the good and bad parts, I want to try for another tabbed browser. I hope Firefox works for me...and I need Google AdSense as well. Later...

Thu, Oct 14, 2004 Gregory California

I altogether stopped using IE over a year ago. I use both Mozilla and Firefox. I particularly love Firefox. I love tabbed browsing. I love the speed.
Whenever I visit a site that will not display properly (IE oriented), I drop the webmaster a line and suggest they get their act together and start applying web standards.
The only time I fire up IE is to visit Windows Update.

Fri, Oct 8, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

About damn time.

Fri, Oct 8, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

As of incompatibility, there are many web pages that can not be presented in IE. Every page that uses CSS2 or CSS2.1 can't be shown in IE without errors, or can't be shown at all. As far as the patches are concerned - the update for FF 1PR (0.10) to 0.10.1 is 9KB large. The same thing for IE would be 9MB at least. Netscape 4.7x was *the* obsolete browser that slowed down the progress of the Internet and acceptance of W3C standards. Now, IE has taken it's place. IE doesn't have a complete support for CSS1, and almost none support for 2 and 2.1 Another thing, you said that good browsers (you used the term 'alternative') doesn't support VBScript and ActiveX. Why should they? I have never seen a professional website that uses VBScript (to be honest, I haven't seen any site using VBS). And as far as ActiveX is concerned, it is NOT a *FAULT* not to support it, it is a *FEATURE*.

Fri, Oct 8, 2004 Juanito Anonymous

Well at least Safari empties the chace when you hit cmd-alt-E or use the comand inte the menu can't say that about IE. Yes refresh seems to work better on IE but you never get it pure on IE as on Safari.

In very few cases I start IE om OSX and it's very seldome it was worth the struggle. But sometimes you find IE only web pages that sux.

Thu, Oct 7, 2004 SuSE XP Anonymous

Hmm. I run both Linux (SuSE 9.1) and Windows (XP) on my laptop and work machines. Problem is, only IE allows me to access my (sigh) ASP-based website's backend editor. When I want to insert new pages, only IE allows me to do it. If anyone knew of a fix for this, I'd be overjoyed. Right now, as I write this, I'm using my SuSE partition under Mozilla and am happily MS-free. But the minute I need to do more web construction and-or editing, I'm back to XP and IE. Any ideas? This isn't a plea for rants on OSs or such... just one person who uses computers for WORK and wants truthfully to get away from the virus-laden Windows OS.

Thu, Oct 7, 2004 Ivan SCG

As of incompatibility, there are many web pages that can not be presented in IE. Every page that uses CSS2 or CSS2.1 can't be shown in IE without errors, or can't be shown at all.

As far as the patches are concerned - the update for FF 1PR (0.10) to 0.10.1 is 9KB large. The same thing for IE would be 9MB at least.

Netscape 4.7x was *the* obsolete browser that slowed down the progress of the Internet and acceptance of W3C standards. Now, IE has taken it's place. IE doesn't have a complete support for CSS1, and almost none support for 2 and 2.1

Another thing, you said that good browsers (you used the term 'alternative') doesn't support VBScript and ActiveX. Why should they? I have never seen a professional website that uses VBScript (to be honest, I haven't seen any site using VBS). And as far as ActiveX is concerned, it is NOT a *FAULT* not to support it, it is a *FEATURE*.

Wed, Oct 6, 2004 Check out Microsoft.com w Vancouver, BC

Check out Microsoft.com with Firefox and Wikalong (a free instantly installable extension).

Wed, Oct 6, 2004 Trev Connecticut

Adios IE !

The plugins, extensions, and browser options in firefox are outstanding !

Tabbed browsing, open in tabs, pop up blockers.. Extenstions.. etc.. Are simply excellent.

Cheers to the Firefox community.

Wed, Oct 6, 2004 Dominic Anonymous

"And all the 900 other features that are specific to IE."

Such as....

Wed, Oct 6, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

When reading about why ppl should stick to IE, the more i realize why less do. To get just a bit more to youre firefox download RealAlternative and QuickTimeAlternative. :)

Wed, Oct 6, 2004 Ian Adelaide

I've been using Netscape & Mozilla for the last 5 years or more as the preferred browser & email client on a network of 400 Windows workstations. I can push out settings very easily, since Mozilla uses a plain text file for all it's settings (including email & address book settings). Also, you can lock any settings so that the user can't change them.
I find Mozilla far more configurable than IE.

Tue, Oct 5, 2004 Craig United Kingdom

Following on from the above post, if a site doesn't work in other browsers -- simply contact the website! Let them know that their site does not work. You'll find many a time they will update their code (Google no doubt would!). Failing that, get in touch with their marketing department. They're the ones who pay the website's bills and will no doubt make a change.

IE doesn't support web standards. Firefox and other decent browsers out there do. It's time for change. It's time for a more compatible Internet surfing experience.

Tue, Oct 5, 2004 Don Jones Las Vegas

Thanks to everyone who mentioned that AdSense (Google) is now working with Firefox. Unfortunately, paper publications have LONG lead times... I'm using 1.0 of FF just fine with Google.... one less reason to boot up IE. Glad everyone is enjoying, at the least, a discussion on the alternatives to IE.

Tue, Oct 5, 2004 Ryan Anonymous

I'll echo the previous comments of this being a very good article with one more correction. I keep on hearing about website incompatibility. I have visited many sites, including Google's AdSense site which you say doesn't work in Firefox. I have yet to find a single non-Microsoft site that hasn't worked. I'm sure they exist and may even be numerous but I haven't found them.

If Google's AdSense site does not work for you, I would suggest making sure you have the latest version of Firefox. I have visited that site several times and done numerous things using Firefox since downloading the 1.0PR release (and now the 0.10 update) and have not yet found a single problem.

Tue, Oct 5, 2004 mpd Anonymous

I've been using a pc for seven years and online for most of that. ie has simply too much holes in it....tried other browswers and use firefox most of the time. This is my 2nd windows pc and probably my last.

Frankly for most people all they really want and need is to go online, have an office app and be able to print and maybe scan. With that aside linux and mac can do that. I'm getting a new pc and hopefully putting linspire on it.

Tue, Oct 5, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

Ive been using Mozilla for a couple years now. I like it. The tab browsing is great. IE no tab browsing, I hate to haft to have several browser windows open at once just to do a stare and compare. Ive found it very handy to be able to just go from tab to tab instead of sorting through windows to find the outher site I want to see. If you have trouble going between tabs with your key board try using a mouse like I do. It has a great popup blocker. You install the system first popup that comes along it ask if you want to block popups say yes no more popups symple. IE never could find a way to block them. My children used to use the MSM that came with the computer untill I finly got them to quit. You couldn't do anything on the computer becouse of the popups that just kept coming even after the browser was closed. I leard how to make the Microsoft browser hard to find. I use windows at home for playing games outherwise I use Linux.

Tue, Oct 5, 2004 Ivan Anonymous

Good text with some wrong facts - Netscape released 7.2 and Firefox current version is 1.0PR. Also, you may use extension to view ActiveX sites in Firefox.

But good point is that alternative browsers are build in more secure way than Internet explorer. It is not just a matter of popularity. Windows is the only system that integrates browser. If that was a good thing others would do that to, and they don't. (MacOS, Linux).

Finally, good point is that Internet explorer is many years old and that it lags in features to alternative browsers which are constantly updated. This means you are less productive in Internet explorer than you could be.

Tue, Oct 5, 2004 frankp ireland

Kevin - you're missing a major point here - IE is here to stay if everybody keeps using it. However if we all take the time to explore the other options and find a browser that suits us personally, then there will be a greater divergence which will mean a greater need for standards while making it more difficult for any one virus to exploit the majority through one browser.

Tue, Oct 5, 2004 stupidkiwi New Zealand

Im on Mac and I hate Safari. All my browsing is on Firefox. Safari is slow and buggy.

Tue, Oct 5, 2004 Roger Krowiak Bratislava

Well, thank you for nice article and summary from your point of view, just naming pros and cons.

Tue, Oct 5, 2004 Dave Brown Anonymous

Mozilla has an automatic proxy configuration (as netscape since 8 years atleast)

Tue, Oct 5, 2004 Elliot Smith Anonymous

"...alternate browsers ship with a similar, extensive list of trusted CAs built in". While this is true, it is possible to edit the list, removing those authorities you don't trust. By the way, I've been using Netscape Navigator, Mozilla and Firefox for 4 years now with very few problems. Mozilla is a superb platform for web developers: plenty of integrated tools for HTML validation, HTTP header checking, stylesheet disabling, etc..

Tue, Oct 5, 2004 L. Mahesa Jakarta, Indonesia

"Content developers MUST be able to depend on a certain consistent set of functionality from client to client."

Like, supports html... that's it. Nothing else should be a requirement for a good site.

"The requirement that a script developer must test to see if every object he wants to use is available..."

... Is not a requirement. Scripts should be candy on a site, not the foundation. If you absolutely need scripting, do it server side. For presentation, stick to CSS.

Tue, Oct 5, 2004 G Anonymous

After getting a browser hijacker on a fully patched and "secure" machine I dumped IE & friends 6 months ago for Mozilla. The minute number of sites that don't work usually aren't worth visiting anyway,,,well apart from good ole Windows Update. IE, along with Outlook Express, Media Player etc. are all explicitly denied internet access at the firewall. I've just dumped Office for OpenOffice, and certainly for home use, it's a massive improvement over the bloatware MS mammoth.

Tue, Oct 5, 2004 Chris Melbourne, Aust

I've been using Google Adwords and Adsense with Firefox for several months, up to and including 1.0PR - no problems at all.

Tue, Oct 5, 2004 Ian Portsmouth, UK

Good article, but out of date in several points:
* Marketshare for IE is now down below 94%, it is somewhere between 84-90% depending on the stats you look at.
* The latest versions of the Mozilla browsers are Mozilla 1.7, Firefox 1.0 Preview Release (internally 0.10, read 0.ten) and Netscape 7.2
* Netscape 7.1 was not the last Netscape release (although AOL did say it would be at the time).

Tue, Oct 5, 2004 Harro Anonymous

Great! Let's dump IE! FireFox really works fine. And what about Konqueror?

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Remus Anonymous

Actually, there is ways to remove IE completely from your hdd. That means, U have to get rid of windows explorer too (replaceing it with some other window manager/shell).

Tested and tried it on win2k, however, don't know, if it's possible on XP.

About other shells: I've seen Windowmaker windows port or even win95 explorer that doesn't need IE to run.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Kevin McArthur Anonymous

Seems ive hacked on someones religion by the last comment. So i'll give my final post to reply to the i've made no point guy. The point I was trying to make was that there are two sides to every story. That while some people will say how great Moz and FF are but from my experience as a context developer and a business manager, they simply throw a wrench into an otherwise working system. Now I don't know if its the users or what, but the biggest problem from firefox users come from something theyve turned off, inveritably blaming the site for making use of a feature instead of themselves for turning it off. Remember there are people who turn off JavaScript and Cookies, well now some of them turn off selective parts of their browsers DOM. When js or cookies are off its easy to write a test for it, when you want to see what version of the DOM a browser support thats an easy test too. But to start having to write object tests for every lil possible object you can use. It gets really really teideous. This results in, whether you like it or not, higher application deployment and support fees with the browser. Also, contrary to what some of the other posters have said about if the user is smart enough to turn it off they are smart enough to turn it on, many firefox installations are done for people with no computer knowledge by someone with some, who inveritably turns off every feature that they could potentially run into. Each admin having their own set of personal preferences for what should or should not be one. To the browser being intergrated into the os, thats specious too. So what, if a vulnerability allows an attacker to run code it doesnt matter if its through com or not. A buffer overflow is a buffer overflow and 99% of windows terminals are run as the admin user. Net result is the same level of dammage impact. The reason activex got such a bum wrap is simply because some idiot at microsoft decided it was a good idea to default yes any activex install instead of default no, and make it hard to restrict installations, the result is a lot of spyware from the user says yes if you just spam them enough with a dialog. Well those days are over and that problems fixed. However, if I need to upgrade my users flash plugin from 5 to 7 lets say, accomplishing this on IE is much much easier. So to the final poster I say, wow man its just a browser, and its just free speech. You might not like me sayin it but you should defend my right to say it without resulting to what can only be percieved as a threat. Shame that I probably should have posted anonymously. --- Thats it for me on this issue. Sorry if I pissed anyone off.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Fringex Seattle

I stopped using IE about two years ago. The security holes catapulted me away. Mozilla has worked flawlessly with my borwsing style. Tabbed browsing rules btw. It took some work but i got my fiance to switch as well after a 17 count Trojan infection. Once she stopped using IE, no more trojans. Amazing, I am no scientist but I can see a direct corelation. She is happy, I am happy... Mozilla is the way to go.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Dave Rotterdam

Kevin McArthur: seems you are a Microsoft developer. Just bear in mind the eyes-with-added-value (big business) are on interoperability and security. Remember IE flunked both tests long ago.

Seems you make your money off coding for IE, poor sod. Prepare to enter a new century in which security is key and you will see IE for the rusty bike in the sea that it is.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Lunix Vancouver BC

LOL Kevin McArthur. Been using "alternative" browsers for years and I am very content. Great features too. The tide is turning and from here on it just comes in faster.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

kevin, wtf is wrong with you. for all the coverage u have got, u have established no point. i appreciate the author's attempt to explain the pro and con in IE and its alternatives.
though i think ie is staying, ur comments should be less offensive to be readable n potentially appreciated...

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

@dave from colorado: are you using a proxy server? It also could be responsible for your experience. Is the site hosted with Apache?

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

®dave from colorado: Safari is a very fast browser. It woks with 99% of all webpages. I have never designed Web-Pages with frames (frames sucked by that time), and I am not sure if the ID you are referring to is meant to be unique. Anyway "Refresh" works on Safari the same way as in other browsers: You have to press a modifier while clicking on it to say: "Yeah, I mean everything, every picture, every frame, every yadda yadda" Mozilla used ALT for that purpose last time I checked.
Unforunately I can't find any badly written HTML right now to try out the modifier for Safari.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Phil Karn San Diego

I've been using Mozilla for years. More recently, I started using Firefox and Thunderbird. They all work great on Mac OS X, Linux and Windows. Very, very few sites won't work with Mozilla/Firefox, and none of those are very compelling in the first place. Quite simply, any browser that won't block pop-ups, doesn't have an ad-blocking plugin (like Mozilla/Firefox), and is as bug-infested and riddled with security holes as IE is simply unacceptable for any purpose.

I do virtually all my work on Linux and Mac OS X, and have very little reason to run Windows at all except for games like Doom3 and the Rhapsody music player. Oh, once in a while I'll fire up IE to run Windows Update, just to get a chuckle at the number of new "critical updates". I guess that makes Windows Update IE's "killer ap". Seems entirely appropriate.

Basically, between Mac OS X and Linux, there is very little reason to bother with Windows at all. Keep Windows around for games if you must, but don't use it for anything important. You'll regret it.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Anonymous Tokyo

Firefox has crashed a few times for me and when it crashed, it froze the system and the only thing I could do was to hard reset the system. And lost some unsaved stuff. Happened both in version 9 as well as the 1.0PR version. Don't remember that sort of problem in IE anytime in the recent past. Might have to do with Firefox not being still a full 1.0 version etc. but I still have my doubts about the different browser reliabilities (of course IE included). Just observations. (I use both IE and Firefox depending on the site)

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Rogue bms.r0gue.net

Only a matter of time before mainstream dumping of Interfect Explodus becomes a reality. The web is too precious to be hostage to proprietary extensions and browser lock-ins.
--
bms.r0gue.net

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

I'm surprised there's no mention of K-Meleon. While development seems to have stalled it's quite usable. K-Meleon is based on the mozilla rendering engine but is designed to be an IE replacement
(unlike mozilla which has simply adopted some of IEs most annoying features for no apparent reason).

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Steve MI

nice objective article and not full of biased crap you read on others, usually the linux kiddies. I totally agree with the move to other browsers although I like having ability to manage through GPO. One way to lock out regular users is through very strict NTFS permissions on the Iexplore.exe on the file system. Thanks again and will bookmark this one. If only more alternative type articles where like this maybe OSS would move even faster than it already is.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 andrew Anonymous

I love how people are still ignoring the fact that IE is the professional business standard. When Nutscrape took the dive MS moved in. IE is used, taught and trained on in countless schools, businesses and organizations around the world. Until the zealots put down their picket signs and start doing something about the professional private sector and stop worrying about the home user, IE will remain the standard.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 adam Sydney

"The AdSense administration site works only with IE" thats news to me, I use Adsense on a couple of my sites and never fire up IE for it (I dont have a windows comp.). The google adsense interface and all works perfectly in Safari, FireFox, and Mozilla, as well as konqueror.
Anyway, Nice article, keep up the good work.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Gary Davison Dayton, OH

I'm working on my B.S. in Internet Security Systems and I'm doing a research project on How IE affects a user's safety. ActiveX is going to be one of the main points.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

Switched to IE5 from Netscape 4.7 (due to innumerable hangs) and to Opera 5 soon after. Still using Opera (now 7.54) and occasionally Firefox (1.0rc) now, and never looked back. Opera is fast, intuitive, functional and well put together. Recommend heartily, and no, I do not work for that company.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

It seems that if you can stop using a browser that is so integrated with the operating system, you can eventually get away from the operating system too. Can't wait!

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 John Doe Anonymous

The question of whether or not to dump IE is a red herring. I have no need to "dump" or "delete" IE, even though I only use Firefox these days.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

the google adsense admin page is mozilla friendly....or at least i've never had any trouble with it

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

Just a WARNING to anyone trying to
remove or seriously disable IE...

...I tried this a year or so ago. All I wanted was the Windows OS, no IE. I used the IE-Uninstaller of the time, (now I think its called LitePC or 98Lite). It worked great, and effectively removed IE...

BUT HERE's WHAT MOST PEOPLE DON'T KNOW...

You CAN'T use MS SQL Server, MS SQL Server Client, or any program needing ADO! Why? Because all three of those require MDAC, and guess what...

MDAC WON'T install without IE being on the computer!

No MS SQL Server, its client or ADO without MDAC... thus none of the same without IE!

I'm pretty sure this lovely symbiosis was completely missed by the Anti-Trust adventure.

So time for me to learn about other SQL Servers... MySQL being the first.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Gern Anonymous

Kevin McArthur typed:

...I have no control over how the page will be viewed, effectively making the standards you guys preach completely useless...

Nonesense # 1. The user has to deliberately change the way the browser works through settings. The statement above implies that the web author has no chance at getting something to display as intended. This is so missleading that it is laughable. The user has to deliberately choose that the user wants something to be displayed differenetly. If the user wants to make this chose themselfs why should anyone be able to stop them.

Kevin McArthur also typed:

...At least with ms's technologies i know they're going to work 100% of the time on 100% of the clients..

Nonesense #2. Microsoft has been one of the worst software companies at making things work consistantly from one version of their software to the next. Example, try opening a large (or even medium sized) project from Visual Basic 6.0 in Visual Studio.net. It is barely possible.

Kevin McArthur also typed:

...I wont have to dedicate a support department to telling people how to turn on the context menu support in their browser.

Nonesense #3. If the user turned it off, they can turn it back on. This is just a silly complaint. Kevin should equally complain about turning off popup windows as well then. After all, popup messages are a very common part of just about every graphical program created since the Apple Lisa. If it is an inconsistancy with common software functionality for context menus to be turned off then it is also an inconsistency to turn off popup messages.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Juan Herrera Anonymous

Well, just listen to Kevin McArthur. This is how the guys at Microsoft must indulge in denial in "why change it, it's so great, Firefox sucks." That something has good parts is no excuse to remove the rotten ones. And you're missing the point in the article. Mozilla is choke-full of holes, IE is choke-full too, but with IE, those tight holes are so tightly integrated to the OS ass that... boy, they MAKE ME HOT!!! Just what makes for a great f...

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Kevin McArthur Anonymous

McD: Just because its opensource doesnt make it non proprietary for all practical purposes. Multiple owners may get you away from the proprietary 'tag' as such but If you're the only one doing it one way, then thats proprietary my friend. When I say proprietary I mean not in an implemented standard consistent across all browsers. And to the second issue you COMPLETELY missed the point. Intranet is not the same as 'I can spend hours configuring all the clients'. That seems to be the call of the wild here, that you can do whatever you want in firefox. Thats precisely the problem, as a content developer I have no control over how the page will be viewed, effectively making the standards you guys preach completely useless. At least with ms's technologies i know they're going to work 100% of the time on 100% of the clients and I wont have to dedicate a support department to telling people how to turn on the context menu support in their browser. And thats the point. Firefox et all offer a truely inconsistent development platform that rivals any headache coming outta the microsoft camp. IE 6 on XP SP2 has addressed all the major gripes I had with IE, Firefox PR 1 sure hasnt.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

Applications like browsers, e-mail clients, etc should not be the only wall to protect against intrusion. If you download a file from the net that file should not be executable, not even by the sysadmin before it manually have been approved. And the browser should not be allowed to see sensitive information regrdless who is running it. So changeing the browser is not enough to be secure. You much change the OS as well. The OS must be able to sandbox your browser from the OS itself and from important applications and data. One OS that has this features is Linux that uses mandatory access control in its latest incarnations. In such OS only things that are explicitly allowed in the security polich can be done, regardless if your are logged in as root or not.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 nodemo Anonymous

"With a regular Web browser, a security vulnerability might let someone crash the browser. With an integrated Web browser they can crash the whole operating system."

That is completely incorrect. IE runs in a seperate process, so if it crashes only the process dies.

My guess is you meant something other then "crash"-- what you meant was something like "take over" or "f--k up," in which case you really should get someone who has some technical understanding to help you write these little articles.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 McD Netherlands

Kevin McArthur: Mozilla and FireFox do not have -any- proprietary technologies. They're open source, remember? Also, nobody is forcing you to use tabbed browsing, you can open separate windows in Firefox just like in IE, and hide the tab bar, so alt-tab will work fine. For intranets you can also set it to allow disabling or changing the context menu, just look in the preferences. You seem quite clueless - time to learn something about the alternative before criticizing it.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

"proxy discovery" - easy to get around, as easy as 123 and it's better than MS's way! Just use PF in OpenBSD or FreeBSD to re-direct port 80 outbound to ISA server or what not, and get a clue... that's all! It's really that simple but not for the clueless windows LUsers (Linux Users) wannabes.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 KU Seattle

I use SUSE Linux and Mac OS X, and I completely dumped IE over a year ago. There are just too many better alternatives with tabbed browsing and other features. IE suffers from slow rendering times, and becomes unresponsive far too often.

One error I found in the article about dynamic HTML:
"You're obviously going to miss out on some functionality if you switch browsers. Anything ActiveX-based won't work, nor will sites that use client-side VBScript for dynamic HTML."

All the alternative browsers you have put forth support dynamic HTML, maybe not as loosely as IE, but if you are a good developer you should be creating your web applications to compatable with most browsers anyway. As for ActiveX, who the hell needs it.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Kevin McArthur Anonymous

To anonymous: re good citizen. I hear a pot calling the kettle black. Mozilla has plenty of proprietary technologies, some of them very good, but seriously, when a user turns off key DOM functionality in their browser all the while screaming about MSIEs lack of, what, some obscure CSS3 support or a DIFFERENT box model (they did it first, whose to say adding or minusing pixels etc for padding and margins is better, the w3c, i dont think so) well to that I say what percentage of 'configured' mozilla browsers are still fully DOM compliant, further what can I the content developer rely on, (the whole purpose of standards right). If its trivial to break standards than that has to be included in the standards compliance rating of the browser in my oppinion. I really wish Microsoft would playfair, stop patenting everything and generally be a good citizen but lets face it their a public corporation. So is IBM, both sides of the fence are coloured by politics and in general politics are not utopian. If firefox wants my business they have to do three things, firstly, make it work with taskbar grouping, i hate tabbed browsing, i cant alt-tab to the window i want. secondly, support com objects and htc, add their own version of activex, whatever, but there needs to be some kinda reliable easy to understand install on demand system (XBL isnt up to par yet, i dont want to have my visitor reload the site) and thirdly the community has to lose the yoga-esc zealotism that tries to say something is better than the other ignoring the facts. Lets see the community own up to and fix the complaints with their browser, say oh, this feature in ie is really useful to developers, lets make something like that, and begin innovating and stop playing catchup. When all that happens, I'll happily stop using IE.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

ActiveX, though useless in my opinion, is available as an extention for Firefox on Windows. You are missing out on practically no fuctionallity, and gaining tons.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Roland Smith Netherlands

Having used Mozilla and recently Firefox on Linux from the time they came out, both get a great thumbs-up.

Tabbed browsing is wonderfull, and IMHO the best multi-document architecture around.

Firefox also has large numbers of extensions avaiable, most notably Adblock, which does a very good job of filtering out ads, and Mozex, which provides links for external programs to handle mail, text editing and ftp.

I wish I could replace IE with Firefox on my windows box at work!

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 drgroove indianapolis

Netscape also offers 7.1 of its venerable browser based on Mozilla code. It's available from www.netscape.com, but you'd better hurry: It'll be the last Netscape-branded browser AOL produces.

Not quite - AOL recently released 7.2 of the Netscape browser, and has publically made commitments to future versions.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 oxstone Paris

I dumped that piece of sh.t a long time ago. As the operating system that comes with it... Anyway, why do you ask yourself if you need to use another browser in order to get more secure, while you're still using the worst operating system in the world?
Switch to Linux, that's where security is.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Adam Edmonton

Sept 17th build (post 1.0PR) of FF for windows supports autodiscovery no problem. I have it configured again my squid (no ISA here) box. I use the DNS method for WPAD, just wanted to clear up that misunderstanding though you were reviewing 0.90.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 n00tz GaTech

I've found that a majority of my browsing (and email) can be done with firefox (and thunderbird). Being a *nix advocate, i find myslef trying to use as much Open-Source programs as possible, and Firefox is borderline-excellent. If you are using MacOS, you should try out Camino, it is a Mac browser made by Mozilla.org.

Every so often i will find the need to use IE, mainly because websites have not been programmed to accomodate the moz-browsers (my bank for example). Other than that, I'm set.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

GREAT ARTICLE!!!

Let's spread the word about Firefox!!!

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Kevin C. Redden Kentucky

The idea you can't get IE out of your system, is basically flawed. However, I will listen if anyone can check.

Have you, or anyone tried 'LitePC'? Before XP, they started with 98lite (for Windows 98). I'ved used it since 98, and I will tell you. My system ran faster, and was a LOT more stable, when I used it to get rid of MSIE.

I used 98 for several years, and I know how stable it was. The stablity really went up, when I 'removed' IE. Plus other things happened to the OS.

It may not remove all, but judging by the difference, I'd say it removed a lot.

I'm now using LitePC on my XP Pro machine, and I did take out MSIE. Programs that call it, now complain when it can't find it. The code is no longer in the directory too.

If somone can do a REALISTIC test of this, and e-mail me the results, I'd appreciate it.

Probably what's needed, is a control test of security. See if a known security hazard can run on a XP machine, when PC Lite removes IE.

BTW the e-mail field is flawed as well. Check my e-mail address below here. It's a valid e-mail address.

Kevin
kcredden@kevinredden.name

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

Kevin McAuthor:
If IE is here to stay, let's hope -- pray-- its numbers are reduced or IE joins the WWW as a good citizen. That is, the Interent does not need proprietary protocols that work only for IE.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Stuart New York

FIREFOX IS AVAILABLE FOR MAC, fyi, and is much better and more standards-compliant than IE or Safari. just correcting the "Browsing On Mac" part; haven't used Camino.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Jimmy Houston

I have been using Firefox for the last 6 months or so and Google Adsense has always worked perfect for me.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Kevin McArthur Duncan B.C.

Anti-MS sentiment is nice and all, but the reasoning is flawed. Effectively you are saying boyd coddingtons cars are less likely to crash than a mercedes because lets face it more mercedes crash. Also the conclusion that IE's ActiveX and COM technologies are an issue is to completely ignore Mozillas XBL and the fact that Mozilla is a free-running application. The fact that activex supports another way to execute code does not make a difference when it comes to buffer overflows, of which mozilla has plenty of. That said, whats bad about IE? Well lots of things, but nothing mozilla and firefox dont have some version of too. But whats good about IE, well HTC to start off, ActiveX while tied to the os is an excellent technology, just ask macromedia flash how their current version deployment numbers look on firefox vs ie. And all the 900 other features that are specific to IE. Further, the MS guys have listened to the ActiveX grip (the fact theres no patch for human stupidity) and have refined the installer interface such that a lot more work has to be done to install it. However, it still does not require the installation headache which is Mozillas plugin architecture. Now to content developers, some argue that the ability to configure every part of your browser is a good thing. Heres a newsflash its not. Content developers MUST be able to depend on a certain consistent set of functionality from client to client. The requirement that a script developer must test to see if every object he wants to use is available, and not turned off. (No longer is a getElementById check going to tell you if the browser supports DOM because the user may have turned off other DOM standard features) The result is a platform most businesses will not find economical to support. To the intranet, mozilla firefox and opera all commonly disable rightclick mouse support, saying no site should be able to replace the browsers main context menu. To that I say no wonder you are not a player in the intranet market. Context sensitive menuing systems have been a requirement of just about every application ever made since windows 3.1, web applications have the same requirements. So in summary, I dislike Microsofts business practices as much as the next guy but lets not act like the FOSS movement is some mesiah to deliver us from the evil microsoft, ignoring that its church is giving you crap and calling it icecream. When enough people consume firefox, you will see just as many dissatisfied customers. Its time to get real, IE is here to stay.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

Um, just go to about:config to change all your settings then, it's easy.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 matt nh

The config files of Mozilla and Firefox are NOT "proprietary", the MS Registry is proprietary! The Mozilla and Firefox config files are entirely "open"; they're just different.

Just a wording gripe, I know. Otherwise, good article!

--matt

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 lpbbear washington

Years ago I made an effort to use IE. It was horrible then and it remains so today. After becoming sick and tired of the constant problems in Windows I made the switch to Linux, around 1998-99. I haven't regretted the move a bit. I currently use Firefox and find it far superior to IE in all respects. Smaller, faster, better and more consumer friendly features. Those of you who read the article, ignore the obligitory upside/downside garbage the author felt compelled to include. Switch to Firefox (or Opera) for the majority of your web browsing. If you hit a website where the web developer is still too clueless to dump the Microsoft only "features" break out the rusty old relic called IE just for that site. Then send the webmaster a letter and politely ask them to get with the new century and make their website work with "anybrowser.org".

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Tom Raftery Anonymous

I use Firefox PR 1.0 to administer Adsense (on my Mac). I haven't tried it on the PC but it works fine in Firefox on the Mac.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Dominic Anonymous

Slashdotted!

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 rob Maine

Firefox is excellent. I haven't used the IE browser for a year now. After the CERT advisory, I got my clients using Firefox as well.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 tuco Anonymous

"...You're obviously going to miss out on some functionality if you switch browsers. Anything ActiveX-based won't work, nor will sites that use client-side VBScript for dynamic HTML...."

And these are *positive* changes! The WWW is an open public arena. And ActiveX and VB are closed and *should* not be part of the WWW anyway. So, good, miss out on these lock-in features. You'll be safer for it in the long run. MS imbedding COM objects in a HTTP client has brought all these security issues upon themselves. They can just eat their own dog food.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Ronm SF

AdSense (if you meant the Google service) works fine on FireFox.

I've switched to FireFox at home because it has more flexible and easier to configure JavaScript controls (prohibit resising windows) and better popup blockers.

Still use IE at work, but that's cause it's the IT guys job to worry about all the viruses here. If my machine gets hit with a virus, it just means a day of relaxation for me:). That's one benefit IE has that FireFox will never bring me.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Ben France

I switched to Firefox a while back, and I won't use IE at all. If a site doesn't work in Firefox, then I don't come back to it, its as simple as that.
I recently found myself in an office where I /had/ to use IE, and I couldn't bear it - pop ups all over the place and no tabbed browsing. Sheesh....

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

Love Windows...hate IE. Made the switch to Firefox/Thunderbird long ago and never looked back.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 NoIE Anonymous

have a look at www.litepc.com
the bulk of IE can be extracted from the OS
that was proven in court
and "integrated" is only a "politically correct" version of what MS has been found guilty of more that once -- co-minglingly -- of the code.
that is why they are whinning to the EU about removing MP9, it is so bastardized that it is neither OS or integrated.

Been using FireFox over a year and have never looked back and the SUSE box is getting more cpu time that 'doze box

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

Good article. The one thing missing is information about standards conformance. Apart from vulnerabilities, that's the second most important thing that acts against IE.

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 dave colorado

i have to say, safari sucks, and i use mac IE. safari is far too aggressive when it comes to caching. case in point, try an iframe in different pages, clling different URLs, but use the same ID. safari caches the page from the first page seen, even when you hit refresh. horrible, horrible browser. can't stand it. why doesn't a refresh refresh the page?!?!?! yes, my cache is set to 0MB, etc...

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Knoppix Anonymous

I use Linux, I dumped IE a long time ago!

Mon, Oct 4, 2004 Tom Anonymous

I've been more than able to use ad-sense with firefox.

Sun, Oct 3, 2004 RogerDodger LA

Thanks for this article. Firefox and Opera both get my vote. They're faster than IE and have some nice features. It is a shame that a lot of functionality -- like AdSense, are only supported in IE.

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