Firefox: The best browser of all

Firefox truly focuses on the user, instead of on the needs of the company building the software

The people who live and breathe the Internet will all tell you the same thing: Firefox is the best Web browser for Windows and the Mac. Even after Microsoft played catch-up patty-cake with the release of IE7 earlier this year, Windows users who truly know the Web are continuing to choose Firefox.

The funny part is that it's not about features for Firefox users, it's about compatibility, customizability and convenience. In many ways, IE6 gave Firefox more competition because it was the de facto standard. That's no longer the case with Internet Explorer 7. Many enterprise users are finding that IE7 breaks this or that required Web site or Web-based enterprise application. A standard that's no longer standard is, to many, a lot less valuable.

In the end, Firefox's rich pool of third-party customizations puts it over the top. You can't tweak Internet Explorer 7's interface all that much. In fact, the excellent toolbar system from IE4 - IE6 is partially missing in IE7. You can't even uninstall many of the browser add-ons that are available for IE7.

No other browser comes close to Firefox' array of third-party customizations.

Size and performance

Opera is the anti-Firefox. It's all about features, features, features. That's so Nineties! Opera bristles with bells and whistles most of us are never going to use. That's only part of the reason, though, why it has such a clunky interface. Opera's designers are great at thinking small, but not great at thinking small and smooth. The rough edges are apparent everywhere you look.

Opera's only true advantages are small size and solid performance. But get this: Opera's International edition (which is what came down when I clicked the main download link for Opera 9.02 on the Opera home page) is 6.27MB, while the Windows version of Firefox 2.0 from the main download link is 5.62MB. So much for Opera being teeny-tiny.

Of course, that bloated pig, Internet Explorer 7, tips the scales at 14.78MB. No matter how you slice it, it's pushing three times the download size of Opera or Firefox.

Which one of these three browsers -- and the fourth in our roundup, Apple's Safari -- is fastest? I would submit to you that it just doesn't matter. They all perform in the same range, which is to say they're all pretty fast. There's no test that would be truly meaningful, because each loads different Web sites at different rates, depending on the coding used.

Security? IE sure needs it

What about security? IE7's aggressive security will interrupt you frequently with yellow bars and other prompts to deliver the same security that Firefox offers out of the box. If you want to feel like you're browsing from jail, be my guest. I prefer the feeling of freedom Firefox engenders.

Firefox, Opera and Safari won't run ActiveX applets, and that's a big part of why they are innately more secure than IE. It's true that ActiveX is comparatively easy for developers to code, but it lacks the security features of Java. We are paying for a mistake Microsoft made in the early 1990s. Instead of building ActiveX the way it should have been built, Microsoft is throttling the client software -- which is the security measure of last resort. The future is open-standard Java and JavaScript.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Scot Finnie

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?