The browser is your window to the World Wide Web. Back in 1995, an Internet user needed different programs to use services like e-mail, file transfer, directory search, etc. Now, almost everything happens through the browser. The early days of the Web saw Netscape Navigator as the reigning browser. By the late 90's Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), captured over 90% of the users simply because it was bundled with Windows.
Today another browser is winning the hearts of users worldwide - Firefox. Firefox started in 2004 with a simple objective; provide users with a speedier and secure Internet experience while adhering to standards. It was lean and easy to use. It did not suffer from Internet Explorer's security vulnerabilities. And it was free. Its goal was to recapture the Web from the clutches of IE.
Firefox 3.0 was released on June 17, 2008. It set a Guinness World Record for the most downloaded software in 24 hours - 8 million downloads! Today, IE's user share has slipped to around 60%.
What makes Firefox 3.0 so popular?
a) Performance. Firefox clocks 9.3 times faster than IE 7 and consumes one-third as much memory.
b) Security. Internet Explorer is deeply integrated inside Windows. Any security hole greatly compromises the system. Malicious software has taken advantage of this for years, forcing toolbars and spyware down your throat through IE. Firefox offers excellent protection against phishing and malware, in a manner easily understood by users.
c) Standards. The browser wars between Netscape and Microsoft caused a large deviation from WWW standards. Each wanted to capture the Web for itself. Firefox brought the standards back. Websites that only worked with IE are now adopting better coding standards and play nicely with other browsers.
d) Add-ons. Firefox has hundreds of "add-ons" that enhance user experience. There are add-ons for blogs, search, email, news, social networks and many more. My favourite is one that blocks those annoying advertisements on websites! More on ad-blocking in the next CyberWatch.
e) Better search, history and bookmarks. This is where Firefox has simply out-innovated IE. Smart bookmarks automatically remember your favourite websites. Google search and RSS feeds are also built-in.
The top 10 list of Firefox features covers these in more detail.
The "Field Guide to Firefox 3" covers all its features. Need I say more to encourage all readers to make the move to Firefox 3.0? Head over to http://getfirefox.com and enjoy a better Internet experience!
Published: Times of India, Ahmedabad, 5-Aug-08