Browser battles?

  • October 25, 2006

Release the hounds.  Or the Foxes

A wonderful week if you use a browser on the internet.  I’m relatively sure that you do if you’re seeing this anyways. 

In fact, according to my stats, 67.9% of you over the last month have been using IE.

![](../../awstats/icon/browser/msie.png) **MS Internet Explorer** No 11366 67.9 %
![](../../awstats/icon/browser/firefox.png) **Firefox** No 4176 24.9 %
![](../../awstats/icon/browser/safari.png) Safari No 521 3.1 %
![](../../awstats/icon/browser/unknown.png) Unknown ? 313 1.8 %
![](../../awstats/icon/browser/opera.png) Opera No 137 0.8 %
![](../../awstats/icon/browser/mozilla.png) Mozilla No 100 0.5 %
![](../../awstats/icon/browser/netscape.png) **Netscape** No 96 0.5 %
![](../../awstats/icon/browser/konqueror.png) Konqueror No 11 0 %

Now, I fully know stats are misleading, since I personally account for 92.6% of my own traffic and I primarily use Firefox, both on Linux and Windows.  But there is a rising star in the world of browsers, and it’s name is Firefox.  So much, over the past few years, that serious pressure has been laid at the feet of Microsoft to actually improve it’s own offering, Internet Explorer.

This past week, updates have been released for both IE and Firefox.

IE will only update with Windows XP SP2.  Most of you should either be using the newest version of XP unless you’re using the archaic Windows 95/98/Me line or Windows 2000.  And yes, I know many of you still are.  I fix your computers on a semi-regular basis.  :-)

There are literally thousands of other pundits putting in their $0.02 over the new browsers.  Here’s mine.

Internet Explorer 7 from Microsoft.
 - By default you’re going to get it.  Which is a good thing, because it’s a lot better than IE6.  Significantly, hugely, magnificently better than IE6.  The new version will be pushed out to you through Windows Update very soon.  **DO NOT WAIT!    **Click that link and go get it now.  If you can.
 - Microsoft doesn’t make money from old operating systems, so it encourages you to get their latest whether it actually is their greatest or not.  By not putting IE7 on older operating systems (Windows 9x or Windows 2000), they have made a terrible mistake.  It not only denies us using older machines from actually running a better, safer version of IE, it drives us to alternatives.  IE6 needs to die much, MUCH sooner than older versions of Windows.  Most of the “Windows problems” that I’ve run across have been due to IE6, not actually Windows itself.
 - Not putting IE7 on old machines also exposes Microsoft to the lie they foisted on us all.  Remember during the anti-trust procedings when they claimed the browser could not be separated from the operating system?  Well, this further emphasizes that it can.  They know what parts of the browser are plugged into the OS and they can spliter and re-shape as they require.  IE6 gets uninstalled before IE7 gets put on.  It can be separated from Windows XP, it doesn’t require Vista to run at all.  Why doesn’t Microsoft put it on older versions?  They don’t want to pay the support costs for older systems.  This is a big problem when a lot of businesses are still running Windows 2000 (and sometimes older versions).

 My feelings towards IE7 are simple:  It looks funny.  Funny as in, “Smells bad.“  I don’t like the layout, I don’t like their UI, I don’t like the buttons or the layout.  Expect a lot more of this when Vista comes out.  I do enough hand-holding trying to teach people what their computer does.  Change comes with a cost, and it needs to be worthwhile - “change for change’s sake” doesn’t cut it.  George Ou takes the alternative view and has some nice screenshots.  I prefer the evolutionary approach taken by Firefox, not the revolutionary approach of IE.

 I particularly hate how IE7 implemented opening new tabs.  I usually use ctrl-t to open new tabs, but if I’m using a mouse I’m always going over to those damned “favourites” stars at the left of the tabs.  I’m seeing that as a good idea, but there has to be a better place to put it.  I strongly prefer the “left side of the tab bar opens, the right side closes” idea.  With IE, I can’t change it to suit my needs.

 I’m using both IE7 and Firefox at work.  I need to know how they’re going to respond so I can help others.  Invariably, I find myself going for Firefox and forcing myself to try it in IE.
  I’m trying hard to be open to both browsers, but I’m showing a definite preference to Firefox.

The upgrades:

At home I run Windows 2000 on rather old hardware.  I don’t get the option of IE7.  Pity, because I’d much rather upgrade.  At work, the upgrade to IE7 was very quick, easy and painfree.  It did require a reboot, and I was up and running in about five minutes - start to finish.  It’s taken me longer to figure out the interface.

Upgrading Firefox was actually faster and easier at work - and I truly thought the IE7 went exceptionally well.  Once the Firefox installer was downloaded, I simply ran it and I was done.  I didn’t have any messing around at all, no reboot was required.  I simply loaded the newest version and knew what I was doing right away.

I did know about how to turn off the close buttons on each tab.  Type about:config in the address box and then scroll down until you find browser.tabs.CloseButtons and change that setting to 3 (it’s 1 by default) and you get the single close button on the right.  It’s a pain, someone will come up with an easier way to change that eventually, but unlike IE7 I can actually customize it to suit me.

Upgrading to Firefox at home was not as smooth, unfortunately.  After upgrading, I started Firefox and new tabs would appear - I could click on them and change to them, but when I typed in the address bar it would only use the first tab.  I’ve had similar problems when upgrading before and knew that it was probably a problem with one of my extensions not being compatible with the upgrade.  I removed all the extensions I’d installed, but I still had to uninstall and re-install Firefox 2.0 to get rid of that bad behaviour.  After installing a fresh and clean version, it works perfectly.  I’m happy to have it back as I love it.

 I’ll mostly try to stick with IE7 at work for a while in order to get used to using it.  I will be preferentially using Firefox for the forseeable future, though.



Even if you use Firefox, upgrade to the latest IE if you can.  But both of the latest versions of the browser are worthy upgrades and you should get the latest as soon as possible.

If you haven’t tried Firefox, give it a shot.  It will be more like what you’re used to, and it remains the safer of the two browsers to use.

If you’re one of my Safari, Opera, Konqueror or ‘other’ users, congratulations on your great taste in browsers.  You’ll already know that you’ve got a great browser under your fingertips.