Firefox Versus Internet Explorer

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Comparing Firefox to Internet Explorer reveals that Firefox is clearly the technology leader in some areas. Microsoft only recently realized that tabs in browsers were a technology users wanted.

Several areas deserve attention. Many Firefox users feel that Firefox's security is much better than Internet Explorer's. Is this true, is Firefox better at security?

Elliott Back says that there have been 44 security advisories for IE in 20 months (an average of 2.2 per month), while there were 14 security advisories for Firefox in 6 months (an average of 2.3 per month.) See http://elliottback.com/wp/archives/2004/10/04/.

Back clearly implies that both browsers have an identical security track record. But going to Secunia's website (http://secunia.com/) gives us this information:

Firefox has had 21 security advisories in the period between 2003 and 2005. On the other hand, Internet Explorer has had 67 advisories between 2003 and 2005.

If you take an unbiased look at Secunia's data, comparing both products for the same period (2003 2005), you see that the facts are somewhat different: Internet Explorer has had three times as many security advisories as Firefox over an identical period of time. As Mark Twain said, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

An excellent discussion of the relative security of Firefox, Mozilla, and Internet Explorer can be found at http://mozilla.gunnars.net/mozfaq_general.html#mozilla_security_bugs.

Many websites compare the speeds of Firefox and Internet Explorer. (Most also compare other browsers, as well.) One site for speed comparisons is http://www.howtocreate.co.uk/browserSpeed.html. Keep in mind that several factors can affect speed and that these speed tests are not absolutely the last word.

CNET reviewed features between Internet Explorer and Firefox (http://www.cnet.com.au/software/internet/0,39029531,40002501,00.htm). This comparison was done in late 2004, so it does not necessarily reflect the very latest changes in either product. CNET's comparison is summarized in Table 19.1.

Table 19.1. CNET's Summary of Browser Functionality

Feature/Browser

Internet Explorer 6 (Included with Windows XP SP2)

Firefox 1.0

CNET's rating

7.0

8.0 (Firefox earned their Editors' Choice award)

Pop-up blocking

Yes

Yes

Selective pop-up blocking

Yes

Yes

RSS reader (Active Bookmarks)

No

Yes

Tabbed browsing

No*

Yes

Number of third-party plug-ins

Many

Some

Uses ActiveX technology

Yes

No

User interface skins (themes)

No

Yes

Operating system supported

Windows XP SP2 and later only

All versions of Windows, Mac OS X, and several Linux distributions


Microsoft recently (mid-2005) released a version of Internet Explorer that has limited support for tabbed browsing, clearly in response to Firefox's tabbed browsing capabilities. Internet Explorer 6's tabbed browsing is part of the MSN toolbar. Microsoft has stated that Internet Explorer version 7 will fully support tabbed browsing.

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    Firefox and Thunderbird. Beyond Browsing and Email
    Firefox and Thunderbird Garage
    ISBN: 0131870041
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2003
    Pages: 245

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