Why I finally switched to Firefox

Until very recently, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was my browser of no-choice. By which I mean, in a world where one browser has a market share in excess of 90%, it’s insanity to work with anything else – especially if websites are your livelihood. In a clash between ‘standards compliance’ and ‘90% market share’, I’m afraid standards have to go out the window. But today, I switched my default browser to Firefox – and here’s why.
The Firefox propaganda generally misses the point. Security, tabbed browsing, and a pretty limited RSS reader won’t convert anyone: they enhance the current experience, but they don’t take you anywhere new. For that, you need to look to third party enhancements, like these.
If you’re in the web business, and you aren’t already familiar with Chris Pederick’s Web Developer toolbar, I can’t imagine how you’re coping. It’s always the first thing I install when I start a new job: and a good enough reason in itself to download Firefox. Yes, it’s that good. All you need to know about the web page you’re currently looking at, just a single click away, plus the ability to switch various elements on and off. Microsoft’s recent attempt to do something similar is embarrassing by comparison.
I recently switched to Google’s Gmail for all my email needs, personal and professional. The huge capacity is nice, but the functionality is what makes it for me – particularly the way it offers both POP3 and web-based access, with a full two-way archive online. The Gmail Manager extension bridges the gap between browser and email client; an unread message count in the bottom right corner, with popup alerts each time a new message arrives. Assuming you’re on broadband, there’s just no need for an email client.
The concept of open-source doesn’t mean much to me personally, but it lets the geeks wreak havoc – and that can only be a good thing. Take as an example, del.icio.us (recently snapped up by Yahoo). The future of bookmarks is online, and del.icio.us is the trailblazer. I’ve only just got into it, but they make it so easy by offering a free Firefox extension which puts a great big ‘TAG’ button on your toolbar, and a whole new entry in the menu bar. They’ve tried to create something similar for IE, but the best they can do is a couple of bookmarks.
But this still doesn’t resolve the problem I opened with – the occasional headache of pages that just don’t work in Firefox. Granted, that usually isn’t Firefox’s fault, but when it interrupts my browsing, I don’t care who’s to blame. This was why I always stayed with IE – but then I discovered IE Tab. If you find a page that doesn’t work properly, you press a button in the toolbar – and it seamlessly activates IE inside Firefox. This is the killer application, folks – no more excuses.
Firefox lets me create the browser I want, by letting me add the extensions I need (assuming someone else is kind enough to develop them on my behalf!). And in IE Tab, I now have a Plan B, for the odd time I might need it. No matter how big an improvement the new version of IE may be, and I’m not expecting much having seen the first beta version, it can’t suit my needs as well as a browser I’ve concocted myself.

One thought on “Why I finally switched to Firefox”

  1. Good to hear another firefox convert, i have a place in my heart for flock ,but its jsut not anywhere finished enough to use, the performance is dismal, but the concept is perfect. But after adding a few extensions to firefox, i have made it close to flock but damn fast. I dont need an email program or rss reader now, thanks to gmail extension and sage.
    I’m just looking into del.icio.us at the moment, maybethat will help my craving for flocks “star” button.
    Great blog, im gunna addu to my blogrole 🙂

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