Page Three

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2004-11-09 Print this article Print

When it comes to features, Firefoxs closest rival is probably the Mozilla browser suite. Mozilla has some browser features not found in Firefox, such as FTP uploads and page translations, not to mention built-in mail and editor features.

Read Labs review of the Mozilla suite here.
In the past, there have been complaints that Mozilla made it difficult for novice users to find and load necessary plug-ins. Firefox addresses this with the new Plug-in Finder service. When we went to a Web site that required a plug-in we didnt have, a bar appeared at the top of the browser stating that additional plug-ins were required. When we clicked the Install Missing Plugins button, Firefox found the needed plug-in and walked us through installation.

This approach is sound, but it didnt always work for us. In addition, wed like to see an upfront installation option that would scan other browsers installed on a users machine and find the same plug-ins those browsers use.

Firefox does a good job of easing the transition from IE, including a For Internet Explorer Users choice in the help menu that breaks down the differences between the two browsers and helps with migration.

Still, this wont help with one problem—sites that work only with IE.

During tests of Version 1.0 and prerelease versions of Firefox, we ran into very few sites that didnt work well with the browser. We mostly saw issues with financial management sites and internal enterprise applications, whose developers often use IE-specific features to provide rich application behavior rather than using standards-based methods to achieve the same behaviors. The problem is also common in Web-based administration tools for enterprise hardware.

Click here for more on why vendors should avoid IE monogamy. We dont consider this a criticism of Firefox, since the browser has excellent Web standards support. We believe that sites should be tested by their developers for conformance with Web standards, rather than being tested against IE and letting other browsers take their chances.

Unfortunately, its also necessary for prudent users to keep their IE installations up-to-date with security patches until they no longer find themselves forced to use IE for full-featured access to sites on which they depend.

Indeed, much of IEs lost market share can be attributed to the security problems that have constantly plagued the browser.

Firefox is not immune to viruses and security problems and, in fact, has had some of its own (although they were quickly identified and fixed). All browsers will have some kind of security vulnerabilities, but eWEEK Labs believes that until Microsoft stops tying IE so tightly into Windows, alternative browsers will provide better security.

Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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