Websites Written for Internet Explorer

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Most Firefox users are converts from Internet Explorer. Most users naturally start with the Windows-based default browser and then find they want something else. Differences do exist between Internet Explorer and Firefox that are sometimes significant and sometimes just terminology.

We discussed terminology differences in the Introduction. Now we'll discuss what happens when you visit sites that have been written either expressly for Internet Explorer or that are different when viewed using Firefox.

Virtually all sites can be viewed using Firefox, even if they were originally written or optimized for Internet Explorer. Even Microsoft recognizes that Firefox exists, as shown in Figure 5.2.

Figure 5.2. Firefox works well with Microsoft Exchange Server's web interface.

Hard as it is to believe, some sites are organized for, are designed for, or attempt to utilize features that are specific to a certain browser. (I won't single out Internet Explorer, but as the most commonly used browser, all web developers are aware of its capabilities.)


This chapter assumes Internet Explorer version 6.x. This is the version of Internet Explorer that is supplied with Windows XP. There are rumors at the time of this writing that Microsoft will be offering a new version of Internet Explorer (Version 7.x) in mid or late 2005.

And some sites work better with Firefox than with other browsers. For example, Google now supports a feature called prefetching, which enables Firefox to prefetch the first item in the search results before you attempt to use it. (More information on Google's prefetching can be found at

Some features Internet Explorer supports are supported differently in Firefox. This is not to say that Mozilla got it wrong or that Microsoft did rather, it just means they're different.

Most sites that are browser dependent work in any browser. The differences occur in the appearance, look and feel, and so forth. For a classic example, look at a typical Microsoft Knowledge Base article, at In Internet Explorer the frame on the right side of the page, which contains translations, related support, support options, and other features, remains fixed at the side of the browser window. If the browser window is made smaller, the main frame is narrowed leaving space for the right frame. In Firefox, though, the frame on the right can (and often will) be located off the browser window. You then must scroll to see the entire page because Firefox cannot (or does not) adjust the width of the center frame that contains the actual article.

Some websites ask readers to vote on an issue. Firefox users have noted that their vote transactions do not complete sometimes. A few sites allow nothing but Internet Explorer to be used. An example of this is the HP Instant Support Professional Edition Tool site. This tool supports Internet Explorer but specifically does not support Firefox.

Because Firefox does not support ActiveX, any site that relies on this Microsoft technology will not work correctly, if at all. An ActiveX plug-in exists for some versions of Firefox. Search the web for "Mozilla ActiveX project".

What do you do if the page won't work in Firefox? Well, one good thing about Firefox is that you can switch between Firefox and Internet Explorer. Although a dedicated Firefox user would abhor the thought that another browser (especially that one!) might be used, sometimes it is inevitable.

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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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