Firefox in the Hunt

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Lordy, lordy turns out people will switch away from Internet Explorer provided something better comes along. The market share for Firefox is picking up steam and now stands at a robust four percent only a month after going gold. That has Firefox's stated goal of ten percent of the browser market next year look sane.

Maybe Bill Gates does not rule the world, afterall.

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  1. Firefox still isn’t perfect…I keep internet explorer on my computer for when Firefox screws up, but I use firefox 95% of the time.

  2. Firefox is a superb browser and, like its big brother Mozilla, joins Opera as a “means of deliverance” from MS’s lethargy. Opera is my default browser, but Firefox and Mozilla are in the same class — SO much better!

  3. I know we went over this here a while back, but I liked Firefox ok, but I’m still using IE. There were a couple of issues that I don’t really recall that I didn’t like with FF, but my main gripe was that since I needed to use both IE and FF here at work, I couldn’t remember which website I had open in which browser (which sucks when you’ve got ~10 websites open simultaneously).

    I suppose the best solution to that would be if I had 2 monitors going I could keep IE on one side and FF on the other…but for now, I just decided it was easier for me to keep using IE…

  4. Firefox still isn’t perfect…I keep internet explorer on my computer for when Firefox screws up, but I use firefox 95% of the time.

    As someone in the industry, I can tell you with a major degree of assurance that 5% is more likely to be caused by inept programmers not taking into consideration the alternative browsers (and thus the people they’re alienating) rather than the mechanical fault of the browser.

    Not to say there aren’t glitches, but having used Firefox for thousands of hours developing and testing web apps, then using it for everyday browsing, I’ve only come across one or two sites that caused an all out crash [because of faulty code, after checking the source in IE], and a handful that caused glitches in usability. Again, those were the coder’s fault. πŸ˜‰

    Safe to say, IE crashes far more frequently and is about as impervious from violation as a sponge floating in the ocean.

  5. “Firefox is a superb browser and, like its big brother Mozilla, joins Opera as a “means of deliverance” from MS’s lethargy. Opera is my default browser, but Firefox and Mozilla are in the same class — SO much better!”

    I’ve been using Opera as my default browser for a couple of months now, and I really like it. I would expect an update to IE to come out supporting tabbed browsing, at least, PDQ, but there’s the rub, isn’t it?

    …People like Opera because it has more features; people like Firefox because it’s stripped of all the bloat.

  6. Gary:

    Firefox does not so much crash as take month to load some (no doubt poorly designed) pages. But the work around for that is the right-click “open in IE” command, so as a result I use FF about 98% of the time now. The tabs are so elegant and simple.

  7. ya, I like Firefox, but once enough people use it all the pop ups and spyware etc… will be ported. Will Firefox withstand this? that will be the true test.

  8. Is it selfish to want Firefox to stay relatively underground so malware and adware writers won’t bother to target it?

    Or should this even be a concern given that any discovered exploits will likely be patched quickly?

  9. Yeah, you can come close to beating Bill Gates. All you need to do is spend a decade perfecting your free product.

    Of course, if the web had been designed by people who knew what they were doing, lots of things would be different.

  10. THE best thing about FF is the simple(default) mechanism for blocking pop-ups. The second best feature is the usable interface for privacy settings. So much better for surfing/covering up porn-sites.

  11. If you’re desperate to keep IE, there are tabbed browsing extensions available through third parties for it. I don’t know how well they work, tho.

    Isn’t the great majority of the malware that affects IE due to the ActiveX integration of the browser, and that it can get its hooks into other parts of the system through IE? The fact that Firefox doesn’t support ActiveX should prevent the majority of those problems. There may be other problems based in something called XPCOM that the Mozilla developments use, but we’ll see if it becomes a problem. I do hope that if problems are found they don’t use the standard Microsoft method to ‘fix’ things: Turn off that ability for all uses, not just malicious ones.

  12. I’ve only come across one or two sites that caused an all out crash [because of faulty code, after checking the source in IE]

    A crash is, by definition, a bug in Firefox. A program should not ever crash, even when given “bad” input. Every good software engineer knows this, including the ones that write Firefox. If you have a reproducible crash, you should submit it to them, and they will fix it.

  13. I switiched to Firefox about three weeks ago, and am enormously pleased. It’s true that the browser is not perfeect, but it’s infinitely better than IE. The integrated pop-up killer is a godsend–it even eliminates Reason’s annoying pop-up.

    If I could just find an alternative browser for the Macs at work, which still run on the archaic 9.2, internet life would be infinitely better.

  14. Is it selfish to want Firefox to stay relatively underground so malware and adware writers won’t bother to target it?

    While market share will undoubtably lead to greater focus by virus/malware/spyware writers this does not itself mean that exploitation will increase. Apache is a great example of this. Its pretty much the market leader, thus the number 1 “bullseye” for malware writers, but the fact that its designed pretty damn well keeps it from having as many bugs to exploit than the likes of IIS.

  15. I use Firefox 100% when at home now and I’ve noticed past couple of days, pop-ups are appearing. The box is checked-off to not allow pop-ups, so not sure what is going on.

    But overall, I have no issues with it. πŸ™‚

  16. Best feature of Firefox that uses tabbed browsing is live bookmarks, so I can grab all of posts at Hit and run with one click, each behind an individual tab so I don’t have to keep clicking back and forth.

    Check it out.

  17. Until you are able to actually (as opposed to effectively) remove Internet Explorer from your operating system, using a different browser is an empty act of defiance. Microsoft can still claim egregious market share numbers because each new computer sold that ships windows ships IE. And any spyware that is smart enough to spawn an IE window on its own can still zap you even if you have Firefox set as your default (I speak from frustratingly direct experience on this one).

  18. FF is great; tabbed browsing, live bookmarks.

    Rich-
    If you don?t download spyware you won?t have the problem. My father bitches about all the malware he gets by downloading cracked software. Lie down with dogs?.

  19. Lonewacko,

    Yup, HTML and many other Internet standards are a bunch of text crap. We certainly don’t won’t to offend anyone running a 36-bit DEC System-20 by offerring a binary protocol that will that force it’s owners into writing some bit-shifting code.

    But the least-common-denominator thinking that goes into making the IETF standards platform independent, with ASCII or UNICODE text as the data formatting media, is just what makes it so interroperable, and consequently, popular for now.

    Help is on the way. And has been for some time. The popular name for this is Java. Java is really just another programming language, but the intent of this technology is more ecclectic: it is to let the user download the requisit algorithm to instantiate his Web page, instead of the static Web page itself.

    You see this now mostly in games, like at Yahoo or someplace like http://www.neopets.com.

    Kids rule.

  20. No 6, IE has an integrated pop-up killer that also kills Reason’s pop-up.

    Although I’m still evaluating it, I’ve been using Firefox for a little while and I like it pretty well. It makes some sites, like Reason, look prettier.

    Have had some computer issues in the past that I suspect were related to IE because they vanished with the IE SP 2 upgrade. Hmmmm.

    Thanks Jeff Taylor for bringing Firefox to my attention.

  21. Does anyone need to be reminded that Firefox was also a quality flick? The beginning of Eastwood’s “vulnerable hero” characters.

  22. Firefox users are also less click happy than your average bear so advertisers seem to hate it.

  23. I tried out Firefox on a public computer I use now and then, and liked it quite a bit. I was waiting for all the beta-testers to discover what might be wrong with it before I put it on my own machine, when my IE got polluted by that @#$%&! DSO exploit that hijacks your browser, anti-virus program or no. Days of working the PC over with AdAware, Spybot S&D, etc, and the thing kept coming back. I downloaded FF 1.0 and could at least use the web effectively.

    I finally ripped the DSO out of the registry after using Hijack This, but man, what a load of crap! I’m no geek, and the thought of doing registry hacks gives me the willies. Real progress in computing will be achieved when one does not have to be a “shade tree mechanic” to operate a home computer.

    As for the glories of Java, I also got to meet Mr. Byte/Verifier Bug this week. He’s squished, too, but it would be good to remember that no program is invulnerable to attack by malware writers with enough resources.

    Kevin

  24. “Maybe Bill Gates does not rule the world, afterall.”

    Famous last words.

  25. I’m as surprised as anyone. Almost 1 in 20 web users is not huge, but it’s more than I would have expected. I’m a happy FF user – when last we discussed this topic, I mentioned what I regarded as some of its failings, and other H&R users pointed me to extensions which made all of them go away. But as others point out, IE will always have a huge market share, simply because it’s the default, and for your average computer user who doesn’t know his browser from his ass, it’s always going to be his first choice. Even my mother, who is really not that bad (she’s used Pine, even!) instinctively reaches for IE rather than the Opera I installed on her home machine. Still and all, it’s got to be a thumb in the eye for MS, because it suggests that no one who knows better will use their crap.

    Oh, and “Drooling Richard”:

    Java is really just another programming language, but the intent of this technology is more ecclectic: it is to let the user download the requisit algorithm to instantiate his Web page, instead of the static Web page itself.

    Could you rephrase that in English? I’ve been a system administrator for about seven years, and web services have been my bread and butter, and that sentence means basically nothing to me.

  26. tijjir: The speed with which exploits will be patched is almost totally irrelevant. David Pogue (Circuits columnist for NYT) wrote a really interesting column on that about a month back…he was interviewing some security tech for Microsoft, and the guy started complaining that “those virus-writers are getting better…they release viruses sooner and sooner after we’ve patched the security holes they exploit.”

    Turns out that most malware writers aren’t smart enough to find security holes in Windows or IE on their own–it’s not like Microsoft leaves the really obvious stuff open, and when it does they have to fix it fairly quickly. The problem comes in when some well-meaning person–academics, techies, etc.–finds a hole in Windows. It gets reported to Microsoft; they patch it immediately, publish the patch and a technical description of the security hole. Problem solved, right?

    Yeah–except that even a year after a new security patch comes out, only 50% of computers have it installed. So most of the exploits and viruses and malware take advantage of stuff that’s already been patched. If you turn on Auto Update, your computer’s almost totally safe. So the salient security feature of Firefox is probably more its aggressiveness about getting you to update (and the fact that the sort of person who uses Firefox is also probably more likely to worry about keeping it updated) than the speed with which patches will be written.

  27. Used Opera. Liked it a lot, but after I upgraded to a new version, it started crashing all of the time. Switched to Mozailla. Not really impressed.

    Then Firefox came along, and I love everything about it, especially all of the handy plug-ins that make a lot of my surfing more efficient. (That BugMeNot plug-in is totally fab.)

    Now I’ve switched over to Firefox and Thunderbird (for e-mail) as my defaults, and Microsoft will have to deliver the moon to get me back.

  28. Even if Firefox became very popular, it would never be as vulnerable as IE because it’s open source, and security holes get fixed pronto with all the eyeballs going over the code. Unlike anything from Microsoft, which covers up problems and avoids fixing them as long as possible.

    Me, I use Safari πŸ˜‰

    For the poster looking for an OS 9 alternative, try iCab or isn’t there an OS 9 version of Opera?

    The other thing to do is upgrade everything to OS X- you and everyone else will thank you.

  29. Wanna’ see something cool??
    Enter: about:mozilla
    in the address box.
    It works in Netscape too, only you get a different verse… (each version has a different one)

  30. Enter: about:mozilla

    Hey, that’s cool!

    Anyway, Mozilla rocks. I switched to it out of curiosity about three months ago. Had been using “Maxthon” (formerly MyIE2) for a long time; it’s the best of the IE add-ons in my opinion. It has all the useful features of Firefox without the hassle of dealing with plug-ins. But Firefox has a cleaner interface.

    that sentence means basically nothing to me

    Me neither. Well, I got the gist of it. Fortunately, Java is not the only technology in town powering internet applications. .NET is one of the better (the best?) things to come out of Microsoft in the last few years. They’ve spent sooooo much time and money on it, I bet it’s why IE sucks so bad now. And why Longhorn has been delayed year after year….

  31. JD: “it is to let the user download the requisit algorithm to instantiate his Web page, instead of the static Web page itself.”

    =

    Instead of downloading a web page, you download a program that generates a web page. ‘Hello World’ vs. ‘printf(“hello world”); //imagine this in Java’. Of course, Java is slow and crappy so no one wants this.

  32. Java. Slow and crappy. Sigh.

    Perhaps more to do with programming skills and experience than the language?

    I’ve rewritten plenty of C/C++ that was slow and crappy. Made a lot of dough in the ’90s doing that.

    Now I make a lot of dough rewriting slow and crappy Java apps.

  33. Perhaps more to do with programming skills and experience than the language?

    Actually, it’s more to do with what you apply the language to. Java *is* slow and crappy for client applications, which is why nobody with fewer resources than IBM or Sun writes client applications in Java.

  34. Actually, it’s more to do with what you apply the language to. Java *is* slow and crappy for client applications, which is why nobody with fewer resources than IBM or Sun writes client applications in Java.

    Sun’s incompetence and hubris caused client-side Java to fail. As the recipient of the 1998 (?) best new product award from JavaWorld magazine, I believe I have standing to make that claim.

  35. I use Firefox most of the time. I have no particular animus against MS, but the things I like better about FF (tabs, scroll-wheel scalable text on all sites) outweighs what I like better about IE (better google toolbar implementation, greater range of compatibility).

    But the thing that nobody’s mentioned that I think is most interesting is that MS had declared that they we not going to release any more versions of IE for existing versions of Windows — you’d have to upgrade Windows to get improvements in IE.

    WHAT are they smoking in Redmond?!? They’re now apparently backtracking by trying to revise the browser through plug-ins without changing the main application. Good luck, guys.

  36. Hey this is sounding more and more like Slashdot!!

    Rhywun: Java isn’t going to save the world. I’d be one of the last guys to even think about making that claim. But I code for a living, and have been doing it for 10 years or so.

    To just say Java is “slow and crappy” is subjective and not particularly illuminating. Can it be slow? Oh my yes. Can you write crappy programs in Java? Oh my yes.

    But you can write slow and crappy programs using C/C++, VB, Fortran, Smalltalk, Lisp, Cobol, whatever. My point is there is nothing inherent in modern Java as a programming language that makes it “slow or crappy” for client-side desktop apps. Now back in 1998 when Wacko did his app, it did suck, especially on the GUI side. But that was a very long time ago.

    My point is I’ve written plenty of Java client-side desktop apps that are crisp, clean and fast. But I’ve learned over the years how to do that. How? By writing my fair share of slow, crappy Java apps. I’ve done my fair share of slow and crappy C++ apps too.

    Would I use Java for an embedded app where space was limited? Of course not. It’s an interpreted language. Too big.

    Would I use Java in a an app where saving 25 milleseconds was important? Of course not. That’s a job for C or assembly.

    If you find the Java apps you are writing are running slow, slap on an optimizer. You’ll probably be amazed at what’s slowing it down.

    Wacko: Congratulations on the award. That, sir, is no mean feat. What was the app? I’d love to know.

  37. I was about to download Firefox a few weeks ago–but then the Windows XP update came along and it seems to have solved my biggest complaint with IE: the endless pop-ups. They’re now almost all blocked.

  38. “Instead of downloading a web page, you download a program that generates a web page. ‘Hello World’ vs. ‘printf(“hello world”); //imagine this in Java’. Of course, Java is slow and crappy so no one wants this.”

    Yes, JLA that is one difference. But notice that the Java-like example uses a function call with a variable, not static text. From the client side that “hello world” can be changed to “hello hell’, or whatever. That makes the alrogithmic type of web page much more flexible.

    There is nothing inherently fast or slow about Java or any other high-level computer programming language. The speed at which a language gets executed is almost completely dependent on the efficiency of its implentation, not language syntax.

  39. Rhywun,

    Here is one of many client-centric Java applictions (Rocket Mania) that has not be written by IBM or the like.

    “GET READY.”

    http://games.yahoo.com/games/downloads/rm.html

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