Firefox, the open-source web browser from the non-profit Mozilla corporation, continues to make headlines with its ever-increasing market share versus Microsoft's Internet Explorer (MSIE).
Most of Firebird's advantages are MSIE's disadvantages, and vice-versa. This article will look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of Firefox in relation to MSIE.
Security is often cited as the primary reason for users switching from MSIE to Firefox. Security is of utmost importance for software that interacts with remote computers, in an era of high security risk activities such as online banking.
Firefox has fewer security holes and a tighter schedule of disclosing them. The enhanced security in Firefox is due to a multitude of factors the system's inclusion of more source code reviewers and a better bug reporting system and exclusion of VBScript/ActiveX, often the source of vulnerabilities.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has been clamoring for years to try to clamp down on the MSIE security holes. It acquired an anti-spyware product, which it released under the banner of Microsoft AntiSpyware. It also promises its new Windows Vista platform will be more secure. However, Microsoft's track record to date has done little to boost the confidence of today's user.
Firefox has vaulted ahead of MSIE with improved support for standard web protocols, such as its superior stylesheet compatibility.
Since MSIE had a leading marketshare, the company had less interest in conforming to web standards, and instead focused on proprietary protocols, with the goal of maintaining their market position. That is, the focus of Microsoft was to try to convert as much of its userbase to writing webpages and web applications that required a proprietary MSIE-approach, so that down the road, users would be less able to move off a Microsoft platform.
As a result, Microsoft neglected for years to improve support for basic open standards. For example, transparent PNG graphics did not work all the way through to MSIE version 6.
Multiple operating system platforms
Firefox is available for users who runs Windows (Windows 98 through to Windows XP), Mac OS X, all the leading versions of Linux, as well as some lesser-used operating systems. In comparison, Microsoft has dropped development for Mac, and other non-Windows systems. Furthermore, Microsoft has ceased new development even on their own versions of Windows, making the new MSIE only available to users who have a license for Windows XP.
Firefox also has a similar user interface among the different operating platforms. For deployments that have a mix of operating platforms (such as Linux for the techs, Macs for the graphic designers, and Windows for the accounts department), moving to Firefox for everyone thus brings technical support costs down.
Time-saving browser innovations
Internet communication and interaction is a core component for most modern businesses. Efficient use of web browser time translates to increased profits, so innovations to help workers do their tasks faster are welcomed.
Firefox leads MSIE in this regard, with out-of-the-box features such as integrated Google search in the toolbar, placing the find-within-page box at the bottom of the browser window so as not to obscure the text, and so on.
Any switch of software incurs a retraining cost. However, a switch from MSIE to Firefox requires only a mild amount of retraining.
The switch from MSIE to Firefox is designed to be easy, with proper import of bookmarks and other settings.
Browser interfaces are becoming standard, so understanding how to get up and running is not usually a problem. There are some only minor adjustments. For example, "Internet Files" in MSIE is called "Cache" in Firefox. One can use a downloaded MSIE theme so that the Firefox user interface even more closely resembles that of MSIE.
In a business with Windows computers, if the switch from MSIE to Firefox is incomplete, it can cost more to offer technical support for both browsers. This argument would only apply to shops whose Windows computers are all Windows XP. Since the new MSIE is only available for Windows XP, if there are different Windows versions (such as Windows NT or 2000), then the technical support team already needs to support different types of MSIE browsers.
Another consideration, however, is that even an incomplete switch from MSIE to Firefox could result in less technical support, since the Firefox users would be less likely to need help with fixing their computer after an MSIE-related security breach.
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