Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why Firefox is the ONLY browser for me.

I remember the day when there were really only a small selection of browsers. A browser is whatever you use to view the web or internet. If you had Windows and an ISP outside of AOL or Compuserve, then you likely either had Internet Explorer (IE) or Netscape, with IE being the sole winner in number of downloads.

At the time, it never occurred to me that I could have a browser to do cool things that I wanted it to do. In some ways I did, perhaps, but I sent those suggestions to Microsoft with little hope that my ideas would ever matter or even be implemented. I was rewarded with absolutely NO helpful changes whatsoever.

Also I didn't see the need to buy Netscape. I mean, why pay for a browser when IE was free? I still feel that way and I actually laugh at those who pay money for other browsers. That's just silliness.

So when I began hearing about Firefox and how everyone loved it, it rasied only a casual interest in me. The number one thing I was hearing at the time was how much they loved tabbed browsing. At the time, IE couldn't care less about tabbed browsing even though this is an idea I had for them LONG before Firefox came along. The term though was new and I had no idea what that even meant, and once I did figure it out it solved an IE annoyance for me right away.

I could NOT stand all those IE windows, of different pages I was viewing at once, along the bottom of my taskbar. Sure, the taskbar would let me merge them all into one, but then toggling those was another annoyance. I hated it and let MS know this often.

Still though, that didn't make Firefox indispensable for me (yet). Though this was what most users loved about Firefox, it didn't seriously wow me.

Then I started looking into the addons, which we called extensions back then, and to be honest I still like that term better. In any case, that is when the Wile E. Coyote Genius sign popped into my head. The drawback of course is that you can get seriously carried away with too many extensions, and each extension you add slows Firefox down.

Also I noticed right away that Firefox seldom crashed, if ever. IE crashed at least once or twice each session, proving that their code was lazily built. Firefox on the other hand was carefully built.

Now let's look at the problems I had with IE. This is important to understand why Firefox was, and is, so attractive to me. The problems noted are in no particular order and many just go hand-in-hand.

  • Password management stinks. There are sites that for whatever reason, it refuses to save a password. Also I can't view my passwords, or couldn't at the time. Then if I wanted to fix a wrong password, it was either next to impossible or at least a pain in general.
  • Separate windows. Well this has definitely been fixed, but therein still lies a problem. Their tab options are so limited and users aren't allowed to make up their own options, which leads to the big problem I had with IE.
  • Too few options for anything a user wants and not allowing users to add better things. This is key here and while I understand that Microsoft is considering allowing addons, or already has, it is too little too late.
  • Intrusive updates. The audacity of Microsoft in actually checking to see if my Windows operating system is authentic, before allowing an update, is crossing way over the line. Either they want users to use IE or they don't. They have no business looking into my computer first. I have a legal copy of Windows, I have a bunch of legal copies of Windows, but that is my business and mine alone.
Those are just the main problems. Don't even get me started on the minor ones. The ones listed were enough to make me scream and many times I actually did.

Now Firefox, on the other hand, allows so much functionality that it's simply staggering. You can actually get overwhelmed by the infinite number of ways Firefox can work for each user. My husband said it best when I first told him about it back when we were dating, "Potentially every single user's Firefox could be unique like a fingerprint." Very well said and very true. Each one could be different in so many ways.

I have some favorite addons that I'll share in another post, or perhaps I'll post each individually, but the point is that's a later post.

What makes Firefox above all others are the addons. You don't get that with Opera, Safari nor Chrome. Don't even mention IE because they aren't even in the same league as any of these.

So many of you IE users might be wondering what the heck an addon or extension really is. Let's put it with few examples.
  • Have you ever had a IE freeze, then crash and then you have to open all sites all over again? Firefox, now by default, has a session restore feature where it will remember what sites you were viewing before the crash and you can get an addon that has even more session restore features if you wish.
  • Have you ever written a post in a community board, for example, and for whatever reason the browser hung and you lost all the text you so painstakingly wrote? There is an addon that saves text written in text boxes.
  • Do you tend to read the same websites everyday? There is an addon that automatically opens those pages for you.
  • Do you tend to type in the same things over and over again into certain text boxes like your website address or whatever? There is an addon that will let you customize frequent things you enter into textboxes and you're not limited to just basic name and address info.
  • Do you frequently post in forums, communities or boards that allow or use BBcode or HTML? There is an addon that inserts quick tags for those codes.
  • Are you a weather freak? There is an addon that keeps the current weather in a small area for you to view any 'ol time.
There are just endless amounts of things you get or do in Firefox.

For some people, they don't even care much about all of that. They just like the different themes, skins or whatever you wish to call them. Like desktop wallpaper, there are absolutely thousands of themes to choose from.

Now don't get me wrong, Firefox has drawbacks just as everything else does. For example the more addons you have, the slower Firefox gets. Also addons can sometimes conflict with other addons and then you have a problem that is difficult to narrow down.

However these things are so minor that most people don't even notice them.

Finally, I just want to say that everyone should have at least two different browsers installed on every computer they own and let me explain why.

When my kids were little, I tried using - what was a new feature for IE - the parental password thing to filter out kids sites. All went well and then something went wrong. For whatever reason it wouldn't accept the password and because of this, you couldn't access any site at all. We only had one browser on our system and it never occurred to me that if it broke, then what?

Live and learn. The moral to the story is never keep only one. Always have two or maybe even three, even if you don't use it. Just keep it there nice and warm, just in case.

Now if you're interested in giving Firefox a whirl, then head on over to the download page and install it. I really believe you won't regret it.

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