Friday, September 17, 2004

Mozilla Firefox: The Browser Wars are Back

Last night I installed Mozilla Firefox. Finally someone's developed a browser that's better and more feature-rich than Internet Explorer (IE). The Mozilla folks has been around and putting out browsers for a while (it started when Netscape donated their source code to the open source project), and they haven't been plagued with the constant stream of security problems that afflicts Microsoft IE. (Just this week Microsoft put out a patch for the JPEG vulnerability in IE, which could let hackers take over your computer just by visiting a web site with a compromised JPEG image on it.)

Installation was a breeze. There are literally hundreds of plugins already available off Mozilla's website, which can be installed with the click of the mouse to further expand FireFox's already rich feature-set.

Particularily notable for blog readers are the "live bookmarks" that support RSS.

If you view DFW in Mozilla Firefox, an "RSS" icon appears at the bottom of the page, indicating that Firefox has auto-detected the RSS feed for my blog. You can add this RSS feed as a "live bookmark" to your set of bookmarks, and then move back and forth between Firefox's built-in RSS Reader and the actual blog webpages. (Which is incredibly useful, since RSS feeds typically only cover summaries of the most recent items on a blog.) Cool.

It has the history tool of IE that's been lacking in past Mozilla and Netscape browsers, as well as the cookie and pop-up privacy-management tools that I really like in Netscape and earlier Mozilla versions. Tools like the Google toolbar (easily customizable additional search engines) are built directly into Firefox. If that's enough features for you, go check out the plug-in library.

The mail reader part of Netscape and Mozilla has been made into an optional plug-in (Thunderbird), so you can install and check-out Firefox before installing its optional mail-reader.

With apparently better security and an extremely rich feature-set, it looks like Mozilla has finally built a better browser with Firebox and Thunderbird. It's no wonder that it's been steady stealing market share away from IE in recent months.