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Is Firefox really better than IE ?

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First of all, I’d like to point out that I use Firefox exclusively. It’s great software. It’s small and its fast. And it’s open source.

In this post, I chose to use ‘better’ rather than ‘secure’ or ‘faster’ because this is my opinion. This is not a test on security or whatever. This is my two cents worth.

The Mozilla Foundation was founded in 1998. Since then, the Mozilla Suite has just reached version 1.8.x and Firefox has reached a glacial 1.0.3. needless to say, deveopment has been slow.

The question whether open source software is more secure is debatable. I wouldn’t say Firefox is more secure. It is more standards compliant, but hardly anymore secure than IE. For example, while Firefox does not support vbscript or activeX, it does support extensions. A lot of people install extensions from unknown sites. Also, most of the extensions are not signed. Hypothetically, this means that if you install extensions regardless of the source, you could get screwed. Besides, IE has allowed control over vbscript and activeX for a while through Internet Zones. Its a pity people don’t/haven’t use(d) them (Win XP SP2 removes this problem alltogether). IE also features much better cookie management.

Firefox’s security is an illision. The only reason, it feels secure, is because it doesn’t have enough market share to warrant significant spyware development. Given time, I’m sure Firefox will have just as many problems as IE.

People have always been quick to blame Microsoft for not rolling out patches on time. I’m sure the Firefox users are going to face the same problem sooner or later, with the increasing popularity of the ‘fox.

Note 1 : I wrote this post a while ago. While I still like Firefox, I’ve noticed that it seems to have memory leaks. One window, with no other tabs open uses about 44MB RAM and 86MB virtual memory. Since then I’ve been using Opera more and more.

Note 2 : As always, this post is mirrored on my blog at http://trenchier2.blogspot.com/2005/03/is-firefox-really-better-than-ie.html

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  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    have you ever worked on a open source project?

    bugs will happen…but: they will be fixed far, far more quickly than anything micro$oft can manage. that’s the beauty of open source. it’s a kind of live peer review.

    plus, the bugfix won’t have 15 or 20 new featurees rolled into to.

  • xx

    >> IE also features much better cookie management.
    No that is not true. Firefox has more extended cookie management than IE.
    And yes Firefox has extentention and that is a risk. But 90% of security depends on users own responsebility.
    The reason why firefox is more secure, is because there are less severe bug and quicker fixed (there are much more not fixed bugs in IE now). There is also no Activxs. Beside that all improvements are available for all platforms and not only XP SP2.

  • http://www.hiphop-blogs.com Hashim

    “But 90% of security depends on users own responsebility”

    right. Same thing with IE.

  • http://ginasramblings.blogspot.com/ Gina

    I tried Firefox because I liked the idea of tabbed browsing. I tend to have several windows open working on different projects. I immediately noticed problems with Firefox. It wouldn’t open certain websites, or it wouldn’t allowed me to stay logged in long enough in others to view security locked pages. I uninstalled it, and went back to IE. I then later found Avant Browser which had the tabbed browsing, as well as other features, but was IE based, so the problems I had with Firefox didn’t occur.

  • http://leoniceno.journalspace.com Leoniceno

    I like Firefox much better. Once I used it, I never went back. On my computer, anyway, it loads pages faster, and it takes less time to load the program itself. Plus you don’t constantly get bugged by built-in advertising, or constantly redirected to their website until you agree to download 20 megabytes of updates.

  • trenchier

    Mark
    No I have never worked on an open source project and I do agree with you that bugs are fixed faster in Firefox than in IE. Firefox does/will have it’s share of problems though.

    XX
    No it does’nt. For example, Firefox does not handle session cookies as well as IE. In IE a window launched from an existing browser window would use the same session cookie. However, a window opened from an icon/start menu etc. would get a different session cookie. This allows one to login to different accounts on the same server (for example).

    Leoiceno
    I use Firefox too. Ironically, your adulation is my only major gripe about Firefox. It takes longer to load and to load pages. It has been documented that Firefox takes upto twice as long to load pages (relative to IE).As an aside, there is no built-in advertising in IE.

  • http://www.hopkins81.com David

    >>It has been documented that Firefox takes upto twice as long to load pages (relative to IE).

    Excuse me? I find firefox to be far quick at displaying pages. And that it not even before I tweeked it:
    http://forevergeek.com/open_source/make_firefox_faster.php

  • trenchier

    Page load times are insignificant if you have a fast machine. However, here is an unbiased test.

    I use FF too, but not for speed. I use it because it’s open source.

  • Mike

    shut up firefox! More people are using IE!

  • GeneralTrue

    I like firefox cause it looks better and the popup blocker works better. ie just looks like a big pile of dirt thats about ready to crash.i only use it for sites who dont support firefox yet.and thats very rare.when i open ie it keeps giving me virus sites like virusscanner 2009 and other bullshit. yes firefox does this too sometimes but most of the time it blocks it and its far far FARRRRR less then in ie.i dont care if ie is faster.i just wanna keep my pc clean and i want a fun and beautifull and safe browsing experience.and firefox has gave me that experience and i shall never leave it.

  • Evan

    GeneralTrue that’s rather ironic.
    virrusscanner 2009 that runs in firefox and ie is NOT ie’s or firefox’s fault, Its YOURS.

    whether its porn or crack warez sites you went to, you got the malware or virus on yourself.
    firefox blocks the popup window, but that malware is still in your computer

    So yea, have fun “surfing safely” because you don’t see the malware.

  • Shae

    I find this post irrelevant. Why this appeared in Stumble is a mystery to me. It’s history is the only reason I can think of.

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