Help me ditch Internet Explorer (and possibly Outlook Express)

Could someone please explain to me the major differences between Mozilla 1.4 and Mozilla Firebird? I’d like to try one of them but the Mozilla website does not really make it clear how they differ. Am I correct in assuming that Firebird is just a bare bones version of 1.4?

What should I be aware of before choosing one of these? Also, I have not really looked into the Opera browser at all. Should I be considering it as a canditate? Are there any important features in IE which I would lose by choosing any of the above?

And last, given the many security vulnerabilities present in Outlook Express (as Gabe Newell recently found out), I am interested in other E-mail applications. Do any of the alternatives out there present a more secure option?

Aside from security issues, I have been satisfied with both IE and OE.

Any opinions/comparisons would be welcome.


What OS are you running? - if it is Win98, you should take a look at - decoupling IE from the shell can result in some significant performance increases.

Sorry, I should have mentioned that. I’m running XP Pro.

The makers of 98lite have just released 2000lite and XPlite.

Can’t help you with Mozilla, but the latest version of Opera (7.20) is quite good and comes with a built-in mail client.

I’ve been happily running Eudora Lite 3.06 for 6 years now. It is text-based, so attachment files are listed, but they are not previewed or opened unless you click on them. Furthermore, it’s not tied into Word, IE, or whatever other MS program where macros can create mischief.

Downsides: not as robust an address book - you can’t sort people by phone number, etc. Also, when I hit reply or forward on some emails (mostly Yahoo and AOL), the quoted text is sometimes truncated or otherwise garbled - apparently their email is not strictly text, but includes some HTML or other formatting that confuses my program when processing it for reply.

I believe you can still track down Eudora Lite somewhere, but I think the current Eudora requires payment.

Can’t tell you the difference between the Mozillas, but 1.4 is a huge improvement in blocking pop-ups compared with the latest IE, as of a few months ago.

I am a devoted fan of Opera. The current release, 7.20, is broadly comparable to the latest Mozilla versions in terms of functionality and performance, although I found it easier to customise and slightly more user-friendly (personal preference, admittedly). If you’re genuinely curious, I would recommend downloading it - the full version is adware (i.e. you can have it for free if you don’t mind putting up with an ad banner) so there’s no harm in trying it.

Firebird is just the browser. Mozilla 1.4 is browser, mail client, composer and address book. Cool things with either are popup blocking, tabbed browsing and Page Info. Page Info lets you view all the stuff that the page is composed of, so you can view embedded media and choose to save it if you want. You can also choose to always have your menus on windows if you want (you know, instead of only being able to close it when the site disables all your other options).

Re popups: I use Firebird all the time so I don’t really see popups, but I was at an Internet cafe recently and all they had was IE. I was appalled at home many popups there were on almost every site! When did this happen? I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as this just a year ago…or is my memory faulty?

To elaborate, Firebird was designed as a smaller, faster, and cleaner replacement for the current Mozilla browser (Seamonkey). Thunderbird was designed as a smaller, faster, and cleaner replacement for the current Mozilla e-mail client (Mozillamail). I use Firebird as my default browser and Thunderbird as my default E-mail client and am VERY happy with them. Both are completely free, with no ads, nagging, or feature limitations.

I have been using Mozilla for a few months now, for the very reasons you describe. Familiarity comes very quickly and the lack of hassle from popups is great. No data but it seems to me to be much quicker than IE. The email client is excellent too, once configured to your preferences. I also appreciate its resistance to intrusion. Try it, costs nothing. One day I will give Firebird/Thunderbird a try but inertia precludes this at the moment.

I’m another fan of the Opera browser. I just switched about a month ago actually, and there’s no way I’m going back to IE unless they redesign the whole thing. It’s very easy to use and the built-in mail client works wonderfully. You can also import all your bookmarks from IE directly into Opera, which I found to be extremely helpful.

I haven’t tried Mozilla, so I can’t offer a comparison.

Per the Firebird FAQ

Personally, I switched to Mozilla a few months ago and there’s no looking back. Tabbed browsing is a work of genius, and the popup blocking is useful and intelligent (it will warn you when it blocks, giving you the opportunity to retry should you actually wish to see the popup window). Another plus is the integrated search (you chose the engine) via the address bar.

Downside is it’s a bit of a hassle to install plugins, and some sites are designed with only IE in mind so they won’t appear exactly as intended. But those are minor issues, and I tend to avoid sites that only cater to the M$ minions anyway.

As Sherpherdless hints at, the biggest problem with the IE alternatives is that the WWW is just too MS orientated and some sites just won’t work correctly if you are not using it.

Try the Avant Browser at It creates a shell around IE that incorporates all the “cool” features of Mozilla and Opera.

You won’t be sorry.

I very rarely come across a site anymore that won’t render in Mozilla. Its rendering engine, Gecko, is much stronger than the one in Internet Explorer, and if you try an IE clone instead, you’re missing out on one of Mozilla’s best features.

If we don’t answer your questions well enough, check out the forums at

I use the latest optimized p4 and AXP Firebird builds by aebrahim and the latest Thunderbird milestones.

I should add that I tried Avant Browser, MyIE and Crazy Browser also. I became frustrated with all of them because of unexpected behaviour with new windows and inefficient popup control (IMHO). Also didn’t really like the interfaces. But if you want to stick to IE and just add tabs and simple popup blocking, try them.

I also tried Netscape 7.02 but found it bloated and intrusive.

So the perfect solution for me was Mozilla. The issue with IE-designed Web sites is minor (they will load regardless) and seems to have to do with IE-specific extensions, not rendering per se. An example is the following web site:

Hover your mouse pointer over “Registration of Electors” or “Electoral Districts” near the top. With IE6, you should see an additional menu in the centre. With Mozilla 1.4 and Netscape 7.02, the options are only available if you click on the words, which takes you to another page. A minor thing really, but it exists.

The OP indicated that his(?) main problem with IE is security, not functionality. A shell around the IE engine won’t solve that (which is a very real problem).

By the way, another vote for Mozilla (the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink version; haven’t tried Firebird). Maybe Opera is even better, but Mozilla is free and well worth the price.

Don’t forget to install the mouse gestures plug-in, which lets you control the browser by moving your mouse around (yes, I know Opera had it first). I fully agree with the people who say that between tabbed browsing, integrated pop-up killer and mouse gestures, going back to IE is a real pain.

I switched to Firebird and love it
There is one or two sites that wont work right( my bank site) but other wise it is great, all the problems i had with IE6 recently arent present with Firebird.

and yes the tabbed browsing is defintly a nice feature

Frankly, I doubt I would need (or trust) the info from any site designed this poorly. There are millions of other websites out there, why waste time on one designed by people as clueless as this?

The only IE-only site that I have ever needed was the MS Update site, to get the latest fixes for their buggy products.

One small caution, completely from personal experience - when I tried to uninstall Avant, it left IE all munged up.
The problem I had is that the pop-up blocking is inconsistent. Once I turned it on, even when I turned it off, I could not view pop-ups. It was necessary for the site that I was on that I view a pop-up window, and it would not pop up. I turned off the pop-up blocking, restarted the browser, tried it, then restarted the computer, tried it again. But it still would not show pop-ups. So, I uninstalled it…and it left that problem behind. I still could not view pop-ups, even with plain ol’ IE 6. This was on a Win98 system, and may not apply for you.

On Thunderbird, another personal story. I was looking for an e-mail program that allowed multiple accounts or identities. I tried Thunderbird and found it very plain, but tolerable. I used it for about a week when it decided to go down hard. I clicked a link in an e-mail. The link wouldn’t open, just an error display, then somehow, it ended up in shutting off my machine. Did the same thing when I tried to open it again. Pretty scary. I uninstalled it, and ended up buying the very cheesy and not very safe Incredimail out of pure frustration. I wouldn’t reccommend that, exactly, but at least my mail is pretty now. This was on a WinXP Home system.
I only wish I had made notes so that I could have reported this bug… but I’m not going to try to recreate it!