Web Browsers

Picking Web Browsers

In the last two years, the web has gone through a truly vibrant period of innovation. We've seen advancements in file sharing, social networks and rich media presentation, as well as the proliferation of Ajax and full-fledged applications that run within the browser. During the month of October, two new browsers have been put onto the market. Firefox 2, the latest version of Mozilla's open-source browser, was released and it came less than two years since version 1 and only about 11 months behind version 1.5. Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7, the first browser from the computer giant since IE6 arrived in October 2001, was released to the world as well the same month.

The user experience in Internet Explorer 7 is much improved over all of its previous versions. The most noticeable is the browser's interface is much more stream lined and easier on the eyes. The new version of Internet Explorer 7 also features tabbed browsing, a first for any version of the Internet Explorer family of browsers, though Firefox has had it since its inception. In addition to standard tab functionality, users get a pull-down list of open tabs.

The new IE has an integrated search field in the browser menu bar. Engines can be added for services like Wikipedia, Google and Amazon.com now at the push of a button instead of browsing to the sites. Support for web standards in version 6 of Internet Explorer was considered quite advanced when it was released in 2001, even if web developers pointed out that the rendering engine still had a few tweaks to be made. As the years ticked by and as the web evolved, many of those quirks grew into larger and more serious problems.

In addition, Firefox doesn't use the word when it detects a scam. Instead, it warns you of a "suspected web forgery.

Coming out on top here as the better browser is Firefox 2 for a few reasons: innovation and ease of use. Both browsers are loaded with modern productivity features, but MS has now just begun using these key features, Firefox has already had them long enough to retool them, enhance them and make them even easier to use. Put simply, Microsoft's new browser introduces several features that Firefox (and browsers like Opera and Safari) has had for a long time. Maybe this is because Mozilla's open-source development framework allows it to adopt browser trends more quickly, but whether they were thought up in-house or not, you can't beat the forward-thinking features in Firefox 2. Tabbed browsing is one area where Firefox's ease of use excels. The fact is that Firefox 2 and Microsoft IE7 both have support for web standards that is good enough for the vast majority of web content out there.  With IE7, Microsoft is making steps toward repairing the damage done by its bullying. While the new Internet Explorer browser still isn't perfect, its improvements show that Microsoft is likely moving away from such alienating strategies that have plagued the web in the past.

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