Monday, December 05, 2005

Why is Firefox so great?

I have promoted the use of Firefox several times in this blog but never really gone into detail about why I think Firefox is so great. Based on Nye!'s comment, I think I better justify my love of Firefox.

Some general info: Currently, Firefox accounts for about 10% of browser use (at least, as far as the last statistic I saw). This is actually rather impressive considering Firefox 1.0 was released on November 9, 2004 (according to Mozilla's Firefox release information). There were other versions of Firefox available before then, but all in all, they are still a pretty new browser. Next to Internet Explorer, Firefox is the second most used browser, so they must be doing something right!

My list of 10 reasons for switching to Firefox:

1. It's free! Yes, I know, so is Internet Explorer, but there are other browsers out there that you have to pay for.

2. Firefox is safer. Internet Explorer is by far the most used browser out there. New computers automatically come with it. Therefore, hackers are more interested in exploiting IE than Firefox. Of course, that's not to say that Firefox is perfectly safe, because it's not. And as Firefox grows in popularity, it will probably have more security issues as well.

3. Firefox automatically blocks popups. Now I will admit I have not used IE in a long time, so I do not know if they have created a popup blocker to go with their browser. But when I first switched over, I was very impressed with Firefox's popup blocker. It doesn't get them all, of course, but it manages to block most. And it's very easy to unblock popups that you actually want.

4. Tabbed browsing is awesome! IE used to drive me crazy with the way you had to open multiple browser windows if you wanted to view more than one page at a time. Then, if you had too many open, it would group all of them together and you'd have to try to guess which one you wanted. Tabbed browsing means that only one browser window is open on your desktop. Within the Firefox browser, you can have many tabs open without it grouping them together (and believe me, I'd know. I have probably had as many as 20 tabs open at once). And now, with Firefox 1.5, you can drag and drop tabs to reorder them. There are shortcuts as well: ctrl-t switches between tabs, ctrl-tab opens a new tab.

5. Firefox has awesome extensions. Some of my favorites are Nuke Anything Enhanced, Colorful Tabs, Tabbrowser Preferences, and GooglePreview.

6. You can make Firefox pretty (okay, I'm pathetic. I know this, and I'm okay with it). Firefox has some pretty cool skins, or themes, as they call them. I love the Noia 2.0 theme.

7. Firefox is smaller than IE. It is a 5MB download (see Mozilla). IE is about 12MB for Windows XP (see I know 12MB isn't really that big with the monstrous hard drives out there, but still, IE requires more than double what Firefox does.

8. Firefox has built-in search engines. Firefox has Google, Amazon, Yahoo, and others all built into the search bar. And, you can add more, if you want (click here to do so). I've added IMDB, Wikipedia, and Merriam-Webster online so far.

9. Other cool options I haven't explored yet. Firefox has some other cool things that I intend to look at but just haven't gotten around to yet. The new release allows you to customize Google. You can remove ads and filter out certain search results, along with many other options. There is also supposedly a way to integrate into Firefox but I stopped using and switched to BlinkList, so that will not help me much.

10. Everyone else is doing it. Okay, I'm only semi-joking with this one. Most of the writers of the tech blogs I read seem to love Firefox (as do my techie friends), and if the techies love it, you know it's got to be good.

For more lists of reasons to switch to Firefox, click here and here.

Of course, as I said, I have not used IE in a long time so it may have some of the capabilities listed above. Also, as with any brower (or other technology) switch, you will lose certain shortcuts and other options you are used to. To me, Firefox is worth it, but perhaps others disagree.


Nye! said...
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Nye! said...

well, IE does most of those things too, with the exception of tabbed browsing and the extensions. and the option of grouping the windows together into one spot on the taskbar is actually a windows XP feature, not an IE feature. you can turn it off, as i have. some of the older browsers (the original Opera comes to mind) used the tab thing and i never liked it.

i'll give the themes a whirl, i guess, but what about my beloved ctrl+k? isn't there any way to bring that back?

Kat said...

Well, Nye!, I have tried. I have Googled, checked browser Help files, and scoured the Firefox website for info and extensions. I even tried guess and check. But I have failed. I cannot find a replacement for your beloved ctrl+k. In fact, I can't even seem to find references to your original ctrl+k for IE. They need to document these things in an easy-to-find location!

I am sorry. :(

Nye! said...

well, it was sweet of you to try. you really didn't have to. but because you tried so hard, i will stick with firefox for a bit longer and try to make it work.

though it *does* open links in new windows at seemingly random times, and i'm not talking about target=_blank windows, either. ever have that one happen?

Kat said...

"Try to make it work" huh? You make it sound like it's doomed to fail, and you will return to IE sooner or later. :)

I'm not quite sure what you mean about it opening links in new windows at seemingly random times. Do you mean sometimes it opens links in new windows and sometimes in new tabs and sometimes in the same tab? If that's what you mean, download the tabbrowser preferences extension here. It lets you choose how you want links to open when you click on them.

If that's not when you mean, then, well, I have no idea what you are talking about? :)