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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Browser Wars Redux

A recent PC Magazine article had me shaking my head in amazement... at the stupidity of the author

Better than Internet Exploder?
Not even on the same planet.
Better than Firefox?
Yeh. By at least an order of magnitude.  Posted by Hello
The PC Mag article, " Make Your Browser Better ," assumed that the reader would be attempting to improve Microsoft's Internet Exploder or Mozilla.org's Firefox—by adding functionality via add-on software, plugins or extensions.
OK, I'm not going to deal with the lame attempts to add junk onto Internet Exploder, since anyone who's still using it as their primary browser pretty much deserves what it yields in the way of a crippled interface/functionality and lack of secueity for their internet experience.  Anyone who hasn't upgraded to a better browser by now, buh-bye!
But for those of y'all who have been suckered by the apparent Firefox bandwagon, here's some news: every roundup I've seen so far of Firefox improvements and extensions (things to download and install separate from the browser itself), including the referenced article at PC Magazine, has been replete with tools to add functions that come built into Opera, right off a fresh install!  
Yeh. Want the ability to highlight a word in a web page and look it up? Download and install an extension for Firefox (usually requiring a restart of Firefox--some require a reboot of your system!).  OR, just do it in Opera, cos that's built into the software--but not just a dictionary lookup, with the same context menu, you can choose to look in encyclopedia entries, a google (or other) search, have Opera speak the highlighted text or any of a number of other options.  And you can add to that context list... without having to download and install additional software.
Addblock?  Sure, you can download and install a special extension for Firefox to do that.  Big. Stinking. Deal. I blocked the ads on PC Magazine's website using a lil addition to Opera's default CSS file.
Want to customize tabbed browsing and placement for toolbars?  Right.  With Firefox, you have to... download another blasted extension, install it, yadayadayada.  Opera? It's built in.
Even something as essential (well, it's become essential to me ever since Opera introduced it several versions ago along with tabbed browsing) as mouse gestures is an add-in for Firefox users.  And even there, you have to choose between competing extensions that do the same darned things! *sheesh!* Opera?  You guessed it.  User configurable.  You can toggle mouse gestures on/off.  The first time Opera notices you making something that it recognizes as a mouse gesture, it asks if you want to use mouse gestures. 
Oh, tons more usability features that are standard in a 3.8 megabyte download of Opera that are not included in a Firefox download that's more than 50% bigger.  Voice recognition capability/commands? Built in. (N/A in Firefox) Image zoom? Built in. (An add-on with Firefox) The list just goes on...
Firefox: compared to Internet Exploder it's wonderful.  Compared to Opera, it's just so-so.
Download Opera
Oh, and browser speed?  Check this page, if you have the time to read through a lengthy research project.  Conclusions? Generally, Opera is the fastest web browser for Windows users and in the top 2 or 3 for Mac and Linux users for speed.  With compelling speed, a full feature set, fresh on install, almost unlimited customizability (for those who, like me, want that) and rock solid security, what's not to like?
Oh, the fact that registered versions are $39 and unregistered versions have small text (or graphic--your choice) ads inserted at the top menubar space? Pfft.  I use the ad-supported version now, and I have more usable viewing space than when I use either Firefox or *spit* Internet Exploder.
(For the next few days, expect some of these canned posts, written up, saved and ready for posting. Probably not much over next few days'll be current events related. Time. Other things.)