Should I switch web browsers?

This article tells me I should. (I currently use IE for Windows XP – with the Service Pack 2 update). So what do you think? Would I be better off using Firefox? Or some other browser? Please give specifics for why that browser is better. (My browser already blocks pop-ups, and I already have the google toolbar installed, so those two points the article makes aren’t really persuading me. Plus, it mentions the dangers of ActiveX, but can’t I just turn that off in IE?)

      • The idea here is that you use -some other browser- for your regular web-surfing, and then if you go to a legitimate web page that refuses to work in Mozilla or Opera, then you can use IE on just that page. Some pages will not display or operate properly in alternate browsers, but the point here is that since IE us generally the most-susceptible to attack (and it is tied into Outlook), you won’t be using the most vulnerable browser all the time.
  • And some people feel that some of the services of the Google toolbar in itself constitute spyware. If you are paranoid about your surfing habits remaining as confidential as possible, then you would prefer to use an open-source browser that other independent persons have verified is spyware-free.

Most definately, you should. Given that the vast majority of people out there use IE, it’s the browser which is the favorite of hackers and scammers to exploit the flaws in it (many of which you can’t correct by turning something off), so even if the other browsers have flaws, they’re less likely to be a victim of a security attack. There’s a host of alternative browsers out there, many of which have features not found in IE. My advice is to download all of them that you can, and experiment with them until you find one you like. I switched to Opera about four years ago, and loathe using anything else.

I really like the tabbed browsing in Firefox. For example with the SDMB, I open the message board page and ctrl click on all the threads I’m interested in, and then I just ctrl tab thru them as I finish reading each. No clicking back and forth or opening new windows.

Well, whether you should switch or not is entirely up to you. As you’ve already observed, some of Firefox’s features (pop-up blocking; Google toolbar) can quite easily be added to IE, and apparently having Windows SP2 increases IE functionality, although i haven’t yet downloaded SP2 on my computer. And i believe that you can also turn off ActiveX if you want to.

I’ll be completely honest and say that, for me, the idea of using an open-source, non-MS browser was the main attraction at first. It’s the same reason i don’t use Windows Media Player. If i had the guts, and felt confident enough, i’d probably also switch to a Linux system. I’m in the process of researching that option now, and my next computer will probably be a dual-boot system, at least. And i’m also contemplating junking my MS Office programs (Word, etc.) and going with the free, open source [ur4l=“”]

It might seem somewhat petty to change browsers just to stick it to Microsoft but, as the article you linked to quite correctly points out, Microsoft dropped the ball on IE as soon as they had the market cornered. They seemed completely unconcerned (until SP2) with a whole range of usability issues and security vulnerabilities, despite the fact that plenty of people knew that these problems existed. Market domination is not, apparently, a very good motivator for innovation or customer care, and if the number of people switching to Firefox teaches MS a lesson, then that’s a good thing, IMO.

But poking my tongue out at MS was not the only motivation, and even if it had played no part at all, i’d still be extremely happy that i switched to Firefox. Tabbed browsing is outstanding, and i don’t know how i ever browsed the internet without Mouse Gestures. There are a heap of other great extensions for Firefox; for example, i love the Web Developer Toolbar. And i also like the fact that i can add other search engines to my Google toolbar. Right now i have Amazon, Bartleby, Project Gutenburg, IMDB, and the Straight Dope archive available for searching, and there are literally hundreds of others to choose from.

You can check out other Dopers’ opinions of Firefox here.

I should add that Opera is also an excellent browser, and many people actually prefer it to Firefox. I have the free version of Opera on my computer, and it has many of great features i mentioned above, like tabbed browsing and mouse gestures. The free version of Opera comes with a small advertising window at the top; if you want the ad-free version, it costs about $30 i think.

Fixed OpenOffice link.

SP2 doesn’t fix all the security flaws in IE, and in fact, has created new ones (surprise!), so don’t think that just because you’ve got SP2 installed that you’re safe. A nice pop up blocker can be found here and as a benefit for users of the free version of Opera, it kills the ad panel.

Opera’s tabbed browsing and mouse gestures have made my life infinitely better. This is not hyperbole. I cannot stand using IE now, except after I’ve found a web page that refuses to load in both Opera and Firefox. Then and only then am I willing to get my hands dirty with IE.

I’ve never really liked IE. I didn’t like it when I was using IE 4 on Windows 95, lo, so many years ago. I still don’t like it. I don’t even like to use it on my Mac (though since Microsoft has abandoned IE for Mac that’s sort of a moot point).

There are risks connected with using IE. I don’t think it’s worth the bother or the worry. Especially when there are so many other fantastic browsers out there.

If you have SP2, and are happy with IE, then just stick with it.
There are too many arguments over which browser is better, but ultimately all of them have flaws of their own.

Do any pop up “stoppers” in IE actually stop the popups, or do they only just close the pop up that already opened? I use yahoo’s pop up blocker when I’m on IE, but Opera’s pop up blocker is indeed a true blocker. The only pop up windows that ever open up are one’s that come from a link I click on. I think this is a pretty valid point here, since an IE pop up locks my computer up until it opens, and that takes some time for some reason. I believe that mozilla/firebird also truly blocks pop-ups but I’m an Opera fan so I don’t know.

Actually, I think most of the arguments are over which non-IE browser is the best non-IE browser, rather than if any of them are better than IE.

The fact that IE is a target for hackers would suggest that you should have a specific reason to expose yourself by using IE, rather than a specific reason to go non-IE. The fact that the other browsers seem to offer a better surfing experience is icing on the cake.

FTR, I use Mozilla, an older version of what is now Firefox.