So you thought the Browser Wars were over, did you? Surely after dominating over 90% of the market share (and surviving the ensuing court case) Micro$oft have successfully vanquished all possible opposition. Well, you could be forgiven for believing so. But a rebellion is stirring, and soon we may well have a New Republic to defeat the evil Empire. Okay, okay, enough with the elusive Star Wars references, what am I talking about?
Well, the browser saga has come full circle, back to where it all started: Mozilla. The original Netscape Navigator was based on the Mozilla code, and Mozilla still maintain an open-source browser, currently v1.6. The important element is that it is open-source, which means anyone can look at the code, and so anyone can write add-ons or “extensions” for it. And Mozilla still have some fight in them, as they prepare to unveil their next generation browser, Mozilla Firefox (previously called Firebird).
So, how does it work? Well, you install the basic browser (currently v0.8) which has just the bare bones, and then you install plugins and extensions specific to how YOU want your browser to look, feel and work. This means you end up with a very stable, streamlined application which runs fast and uses far less memory because it doesn’t have lots of clunky, pointless coding that’s never even used. And of course new extensions are constantly being added and updated (I’ve even been working on some myself).
Best features? Well, too many to list. Tabbed Browsing (browse multiple sites in one window) isn’t new if you’re familiar with the latest Netscape Navigator of Apple’s Safari, but you’ll love it immediately. Firefox automatically blocks all unwanted popups, and you can easily tell it which sites to unblock. Mouse Gestures will hugely speed up browsing, allowing you to move back and forward with simple flicks of the mouse. There’s a conveniently integrated download manager. The search feld is incredibly useful, letting you search not only Google, but allowing you to add other search engines, and even sites like Amazon, IMDB, BBCi and more.
So, go get it: http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/
And I would also recommend the following extensions:
- All-in-One Gestures
- Copy Image
- Things They Left Out
- Toolbar Enhancements
- visit http://mycroft.mozdev.org to add some new search engines
If it’s this good, even in its incomplete state, it should be worrying Microsoft because I for one am seriously considering changing my default browser right now.
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