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What Browser do you use?

Travel Forums System Talk What Browser do you use?

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1. Posted by Travel100 (Travel Guru 1556 posts) 11y

I was wondering which Browser everyone uses to surf the net (and if you know, why?). When I started I used Netscape but I've been using IE for years now.

I've heard a lot about Firefox. Why do people like it so much?

Also for those of you that might know, I'm curious why a company like Firefox would spend so much money developing a browser and then giving it away free? What's in it for them? How will they make money?

2. Posted by Cupcake (Travel Guru 8468 posts) 11y

Peter and Sam convinced me that Firefox was much better than IE (and it is!) No more popups, faster...I haven't crashed since I installed it! I had used IE since 93 (I think?) There are a few answers to some of your questions on their website...
http://www.firefox.com/
and this made for some interesting reading..;)
http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,116848,00.asp
:)

3. Posted by Travel100 (Travel Guru 1556 posts) 11y

Checked out the links, Thanks. How long ago did you switch?

I don't get any pop-ups because of my norton firewall and my browser doesn't crash any more like it did in the early years. But the security thing seems to be a factor, although I must admit I really don't understand it all that well.

4. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 11y

I use Firefox, as you may have guessed :). The reason it's free is because it is an open source project - a lot of people are working on it with no reward apart from knowing they're bettering the world :) Also, it would be very hard to gain market share against IE if it wasn't free. Opera is an example of a browser that does charge (otherwise you get ads in the browser) and I imagine it has a big impact on their market share.

The thing I like the most about Firefox are the extensions. On the Mac, we already have a popup blocking, tab enabled modern browser - Safari, so there isn't as much of a need for something like Firefox. But all the brilliant extensions that are available are something I can hardly live without now, so I barely use Safari anymore! And IE only comes out when I need to do some specific banking tasks that for some reason our bank hasn't bothered make work properly in other browsers. Well, it also comes out when I'm testing layouts.

5. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 11y

Quoting Travel100

But the security thing seems to be a factor, although I must admit I really don't understand it all that well.

Not that I understand it all that well (Sander could explain it far better), but my understanding is that IE on PCs out of the box will allow websites to install programs on your computer without letting you know. This is done through their ehem, "handy" Active X plugin.
There are certaily ways to lock down your computer. One of the best would be to start a non-administrator user account and use that to surf the net. Of course, the default user on Windows IS an administrator, so most people never do this. Firefox quite simply doesn't assume you want to install anything and kindly will ask you first. I'm sure there's much more to it than that, but that's the most compelling reason I know of at least. Please correct me if I'm wrong Sander

6. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4811 posts) 11y

I personally use Mozilla, the big brother of Firefox, as it caters more for power users, and included an email client, chat client, javascript debugger, dom inspector and other such vital tools for a web developer like me.

However, anyone still using IE at this point will not be a power user, so I can highly recommend getting the more polished and simpler Firefox, or an alternative browser like Opera (or even the new Netscape 8).

Security is indeed a major reason for using these browsers rather than IE (IE has features like ActiveX which by its very design is a major danger, allowing for an near infinite variety of ways for an attacker to take over your computer, and IE's integration with Windows itself means that any security problem with the browser becomes a lot worse), although of course no product is 100% secure, so you'll always need to continue updating.
Far more important is that these new browsers actually keep innovation alive. Microsoft hasn't updated its browser in five years, and if you use anything else for more than a few days, this becomes so painfully obvious that you'll never want to go back.

Tabbed browsing is a probably the best known feature that IE lacks. Take the message board here for example. I don't know how people browse it with IE, but if you want to read more than a handful of threads, I imagine you're at a forum view (or the all threads one) and start opening threads since the last time you visited. So that's shift-click to open it in a new window, alt-tab back, shift-click to open the next thread in a new window, alt-tab back. etc, etc. I was once forced to use IE at work during an internship, and I hated this (but it was faster than the alternative of click, read, back, click next).
In a tabbed browser, the workflow is: middle-click a thread, middle-click the next thread, middle-click the thread after that, middle-click, middle-click. No window switching or anything. The threads open in tabs behind the current one, which means that you don't have to switch focus all the time until you're ready to do so - that is, done scanning down the thread list for interesting threads to read. And then even on a slow connection, the very first thread that you opened is long since done loading, so you can start reading it immediately.
I hope you can envision that explanation, but if you can't, just try it. It makes a truly massive difference.

Next: multiple tabs as homepage. Everyone has a number of sites they visit every day. You've probably bookmarked them, and set one as your homepage. How about setting all of them as your homepage? Open your browser, and they all start loading. Once you close the first one, the others are already there waiting for you. You can also just bookmark groups of sites like that. Personally I have all my webcomics in one tabgroup, and so when I want to go and read them, one click opens them all.

Then there's incremental find in pages (I never used to search in a page, now I do it all the time, because it's so much easier), livemarks (bookmark rss/atom feeds), disallowing webpages to mess with your context menu or resize pages if you don't want that to happen, and much much more.

Really, for your own peace of mind security-wise, and to treat yourself to a browser which actually has your best interests at heart, go get Firefox.

7. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4811 posts) 11y

btw, I should add to the above that I'm a bug triager and sometimes developer of Mozilla (and hence Firefox, which uses 90% of the same code), so I'm not entirely impartial.
Of course, I became that because the browser is that good, and I wanted to give something back to the community... :)

8. Posted by Travel100 (Travel Guru 1556 posts) 11y

Quoting Sander

middle-click a thread, middle-click the next thread, middle-click the thread after that, middle-click, middle-click.

Hey thanks for the detailed post. You've convinced me to give it a try. BUT my mouse has "right-click" or "left-click." How does one "middle-click"?

9. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4811 posts) 11y

Quoting Travel100

Also for those of you that might know, I'm curious why a company like Firefox would spend so much money developing a browser and then giving it away free? What's in it for them? How will they make money?

Money making isn't the goal. The Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit organization.
Basically the following makes it all work:

  • Several people who become very rich during the dotcom years and are supportive of Open Source software gave Mozilla more money.
  • Users who like Mozilla and Firefox a lot donate a few dollars out of thanks.
  • Companies which distribute Mozilla and Firefox (think all the Linux distributions) hire several people to work fulltime on these browsers and make certain the features their users are asking for are included. (This also includes Google, who wants to make certain Microsoft won't succeed in locking in the web with some proprietary format that only IE can read, so that they can continue to search it all.)
  • Amazon pays the Mozilla Foundation some money by including an Amazon search in the search box. (Search plugins for competing companies like Barnes and Noble can be downloaded and installed very easily.)
  • Programmers like me who really like the product work on it in their free time, to help make it better and make certain features they personally want to see will be included.

The overarching goal is to keep the internet open and free. To make certain innovation and competition remain alive, to allow for an internet where open standards such as developed by the W3C will actually flourish, which will for example help people with sight problems to effectively use screenreaders to browse the internet.
Microsoft has shown time and again that it cares nothing for such things. More money can be made for them by creating their own protocols and protect them so that only Microsoft products can read them. This is what most of the rest of the software companies are fighting against, and Mozilla/Firefox is just a small part in it.

10. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4811 posts) 11y

Quoting Travel100

Hey thanks for the detailed post. You've convinced me to give it a try. BUT my mouse has "right-click" or "left-click." How does one "middle-click"?

If you have a scroll-wheel on the mouse, you can click that downward to middle-click. If you don't, then ctrl-click (so hold the ctrl button on your keyboard, and press the left mouse button) has the same effect.