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In computer news this week – Thursday December 2, 2004
The protection you need on the internet today - Part 8 –
or Don’t surf in shark infested waters ...
The program most people use to connect to the internet is Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which has been plagued with security holes which have led to many of the internet problems I have talked about in this series. Even with release of Explorer 6.0 and windows Xp service pack 2 there are still ongoing security problems.
The new kid on the browser block today is the Firefox browser Version 1.0, from Mozilla, which you can download and use for free from mozilla.org.
Technically the biggest difference between Firefox and Internet Explorer is that Firefox does not use Activex Controls and plugins. ActiveX controls are part of Windows, and Explorer is part of windows, and ActiveX has lead to security problems and drive by downloading of bad programs to user’s computers. Firefox does not use Activex, and thus is a more secure browser in protecting you particularly from adware and spyware.
The other major technical difference is that Firefox is an open source browser – the source code is available for anyone to see and modify, and Internet Explorer uses proprietary source code.
Those technical differences aside, Firefox is actually a better browser, with a new concept of internet surfing called tabbed windows – instead of clicking on a link and opening new windows – you can have multiple windows open and just click between them – a much faster way of seeing and recalling information. It is also a faster browser, and includes a popup blocker utility.
For the first time since Microsoft crushed the Netscape browser over a decade ago, users have a viable choice of browsers. There have been other browser alternatives, but Foxfire is spreading – pardon the pun – like fire among internet users and has been rated a superior browser to Explorer in several major PC industry polls.
When you download and install Firefox, it will automatically read and convert all your Internet Explorer favorites and settings, so you’re ready to go at once and enjoy a new browser experience.
The next thing you can do is customize your Foxfire toolbar so you can have the icons and choices on it that you want – by using a very simple point and click interface. I am using it with outlook, but it will work with any email and contact management program.
There might be some websites that may not display exactly correct, as most websites are designed for internet explorer, but as Firefox increases its user base that will not be a problem.
However as the end user, you have the best of both worlds. You can use either or both, and if one doesn’t work, just switch to the other.
It has been a long time since Microsoft has had any serious competition in any of its primary products, and this may lead to more choices for computer users.
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This is Frank Delaney
(C) 2004 MTA Micro Technology Associates