So, you’ve heard of this Firefox browser, but you don’t know much about it. Everyone has heard of Internet Explorer and nearly everyone has used it at some point. Let’s take a side-by-side look at the two and see how they stack up to each other.
The place to start when comparing these products is price. Of course, this isn’t much of a comparison, as both browsers are free. Internet Explorer comes free with any computer running a Microsoft operating system. Upgrading to IE 7 is also free. Mozilla Firefox, among other products, can be downloaded for free at http://www.mozilla.com.
Mozilla was one of the first browsers to employ a tabbed interface. Tabs allow you to view more than one web site from a single instance of the browser. It took Microsoft a while, but IE 7 finally introduced this functionality to the dominate player in the web browser market. Tabbed browsing is highly useful and it’s about time Microsoft caught up to the pack.
Another feature both browsers share is the ability to extend the basic functionality of the product. That you can extend both is where the similarities end, as Firefox has a clear advantage in this department. Since Firefox is an open source product, the source code is available to any developer who wishes to develop functionality. This has led to more than 2500 extensions being developed for Firefox. Because Microsoft products are proprietary, there is not nearly the development being done along these lines, as Microsoft’s web site only lists a handful of extensions. Another huge difference in this area is cost. All extensions for Firefox are free; however some of the more useful extensions for Internet Explorer have a cost associated with them, including an extension to block advertisements, much like Adblock Plus for Firefox.
Both browsers have the capability to remember which tabs you had open when you closed the program and open those same tabs when you launch the program the next time. However, the method of carrying out this functionality is much different. In Internet Explorer, the user must select a checkbox every time they close the program, or their tabs won’t be saved. Firefox has an option to make remembering the tabs a default setting, and no further action is necessary. Related to closing the program, both browsers have a setting that asks you to verify you want to close the program if you have multiple tabs open. This is a nice feature, as it prevents you from accidentally closing the program when you intended to close only a single tab, something this author has done more than once.
One consideration when browsing the web is how the pages are rendered. Some sites are optimized for Internet Explorer and some sites only work correctly in Internet Explorer. Firefox users have the option of installing an extension that makes it easy to launch a page from Firefox into IE in such cases, but there are just times when the page must be viewed in Internet Explorer.
Some users stick with Internet Explorer simply because that’s what came on their computer. Many have never installed or used anything else. Others want the flexibility that Firefox offers. For those users, however, it is rare that they would not have both browsers. This author has both installed, and a few others as well, and I use both regularly. Hopefully, this comparison will help you decide which browser fits your needs best.