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So what are the bets that you have heard something about this but are really not too sure what it is? Or maybe you are just too scared to take the plunge and leave Internet Explorer? Well, with any luck, this review will make sure you are a bit clearer on what Mozilla Firefox is and why you should use it. What is it? ********* Well, starting at the beginning, it's a web browser. As far as I am aware, about 90% of internet users will be using Internet Explorer (some monopoly Mr Gates!) and the vast majority of them will simply have no idea that this isn't the only way you can get onto the sites that they want to see. Firefox is Mozilla's offering to the internet world to ride the cyber super highway and works largely in the same way as I.E only it offers quite a lot more in the process. What does it look like? ******************* To be honest, it largely looks a lot like I.E does. But then this is deliberate as if they want to attract people away from I.E why (with so many millions of users) would they want to make it a browser that the average net user would have to spend hours getting to know before being confident enough to use it? So it has a lot of what you will recognise - the same buttons such as stop, go, refresh (called reload) etc, the address bar, the status bar etc. It does however look a lot fresher, cleaner and up to date. I have added a picture at the bottom to show what it looks like and will refer to it through the review. That's only the standard look though, it can be changed but more about that later. Why is it different then? ******************* Well, for me the main thing is the security aspect. Lets face it, I.E is full of holes that any half decent internet hacker can pick though quicker than a bowl of spaghetti. Firefox has been designed with this in mind and the security is top notch. How do I know this? Well before I started using it I had to run my spybot program quite a lot and would always find countless amounts of spyware hidden in my computer and was constantly having to delete them. Since changing to Firefox however, I don't need to do this half as often and when I do, there is usually only one or two files that I have to delete to ensure my data is safe. Big thumbs up there from me, and all the evidence I need. Then there are the 'tabs'. This is the feature that all Firefox users RAVE about. It's simply brilliant and I just couldn't do without them now. If you look at the picture at the bottom, you will see that underneath my favourite buttons (which again are much better than in I.E as they save the logo of the site on them) you will see that I have about five different tabs showing. If you look at the picture in the largest view, you will see that they have names of website on them. So, that means that I have five different webpages open within the ONE browser page and all I have to do to go to each one is click on the tab that corresponds to the webpage I want to look at. This makes the buttons at the bottom of your screen (where I.E would show five different browser pages) much cleaner looking and you can have loads of pages open without having to resort to cluttering up the bottom of the screen. If you click on a link in a webpage, it does normally open a new browser but then if you right click on the link, it will give tyou the option to open the new page in a new tab. Also, you can set up Firefox to open up more than one tab when you load it, and program it to open multiple webpages at this point. This means that you can have ciao as you home page, you can have your email account as your homepage, and any other you fancy and they all load up from the moment you connect to the net! SO handy! But what if I hit the X button? They have thought of that. If you accidentally try to close the window and you have more than one tab open (you were perhaps trying to close just one of the tabs), you will have a warning come up asking you if you actually want to do it so you wont loose the 6 tabs you have open! A master stroke that Mozilla have up there sleeves is the fact that the initial download of the program is really quite small as they don't automatically fill it with all the options they have at their disposal. What they do is give you access to 'extensions'. To do this, you go into the tools option at the top and choose extensions. It will show you the ones you have installed and give you the option to search for more on the extensions website. An extension is basically a feature that you can choose to build into the browser. For example. Do you know the REALLY annoying advert that is likely on this page at the moment? You know .the one that scrolls down with you? Well I don't have it. That's right, it just aint there. Neither is the one at the top that flashes at you! This is because I chose to download an extension that can actually block adverts within a webpage. All I have to do when opening any page is click a little button in the very bottom right that says 'ad-block' and it gives me all the things on the page that can be blocked and all I have to do is choose the one I want to block and its gone (or right click on the advert and choose adblock). If I even wanted too, I could choose for it to block out pretty much anything on the page I wanted - including all your coloured dots over on ciao that a lot of users hate! How cool is that?!? I also have an extension that tells me if I have an email in my gmail account that sits at the bottom beside my ad-block button, I have one that allows me to simply right click and instantly access my blog and write about the page I am looking at (and adding the link at the same time) and a few others. What this allows you to do, is have your Firefox as feature filled or as basic as you want. There are hundreds of extensions and obviously some will be more useful to certain people and not others. Also, with the basic set up, Firefox runs so much faster than I.E does with a similar processor so if you have an older computer, you will be able to have a faster time online with the basic set up. Have just added another extension....this one allows me to control Windows Media Player (and most other music players including Itunes and Winamp and loads I havent heard of..) from my browser! Ok, it maay be lazy but very cool! Now, the themes! Remember at the beginning I told you you could change the way it looked? Well this is done in a similar way to choosing your extensions. You go into tools and follow the same steps (except choosing themes) and you will be led to a site that has a plethora of different looks you can choose for your web browsing time. There are serious ones, there are animal ones, there are sport ones, and many more. Built in to the browser is two other great features. How many of you have the google tool bar in I.E? Well this comes ready made for you with this and does exactly the same thing without having an ugly bar hiding yet more of your web page view. At the top and to the left (see picture) you see a box beside the address bar which houses the Google search. "But Drew whats so special about that over I.E" I hear you cry! Well, if you click on the G then it gives you the option to not only search google, but amazon, ebay, dictionary.co and yahoo. Not only that, but you can add many other sites to search automatically as well in the same way that you add extensions and themes!!! At the moment, there is not a lot of them to be added however they are working on more and they are getting added all the time. And of course, like the google toolbar it has a pop up blocker pre installed into the browser which stops those annoying pop ups in a very similar but (from my experience) more effective way. Is there anything wrong with it? ************************* As with any product, there is usually something that is annoying. For me, I find that when you initially click to open Firefox, it can take a bit longer to open than I.E does but this is only really an extra 30 seconds I have (almost) got used to this now. Also, I have had problems with PDF (Adobe Acrobat) files which has meant I have had to Ctrl-Alt-Del to get the thing to work again. I hate those kind of files anyway as they are such a pain to use and take ages to load so pretty much try to avoid them like the plague anyway. The only other problem at this point is the fact that you will sometimes (though really not very often at all) come across a web page that has not been written with Firefox code in mind so looks a bit different. I really don't come across this very often and the only example I can think of is that when I get a private message in ciaochatting, it doesn't flash the way it would in I.E. No biggie though, I can deal with that! This is something that will change in time though as Firefox gets more and more popular as web page designers will have more need to write and test using Firefox. How do I get it then? *********************** All you need to do is go to this link. http://download.mozilla.org/?product=firefox&os=win〈=en-US The download is quick and painless as the file is reletively small and installation is easy with the wizard guiding you along. There is a very good help section provided within the browser that will link you directly to the Mozilla webpage if need be and will take you step by step though anything you need. However, it is actually quite straight forward anyway and I have personally not had to use this very much. So to finish off .. **************** If I could give this product 10 starts I would. It really has changed the internet for the better for me and I hate having to go back to using I.E when I am in university or work. I love it. The fact that I can personalise it whatever way I want and can add and take away extensions make it a truly adaptable browser in a way that no other browser has for me in the past. I urge you to at least give it a go, trust me you will not regret it. Take care and happy surfing, drew x
I have to admit that I went six months blissfully unaware of the problems a broadband user using Internet Explorer (IE as it shall now be known) experiences. It was not until I found my computer running slower, displaying irritating and often-inappropriate pop-up advertisements and crashing on frequent intervals despite regular security downloads from Microsoft. On running my spyware scanner and antivirus software I discovered my computer was plagued with Trojan's (software which consumes hard disk space and can make your computer behave strangely) and adware (programmes installed by websites to monitor and even hijack your internet usage). Irritated by the lack of protection IE was offering me I began looking for alternatives which provided more protection but the same simple user interface IE is famous for. A friend pointed me in the direction of Mozilla Firefox and I have not looked back since. What is Mozilla Firefox? ******************* Mozilla Firefox is a web-based browser that is used to browse pages on the Internet. Those who use Internet Explorer will find it very similar in look and style and that is its aim. The idea behind Firefox is to provide a free (yes it's free!), secure alternative to IE with a similar user interface enabling new users to become instantly familiar. Indeed initially you may well wonder what the differences are. IE versus Firefox ************** The look and feel of both browsers are very similar. Buttons along the top of the page are standard with forward, back and home buttons virtually identical. Indeed the only true difference is in the terminology with refresh renamed reload and favourites now saved as bookmarks. The option to "drag and drop" websites onto a quick links bar remains unchanged for both browsers and you may find yourself wondering why bother switching at all? It is in the little things in which Firefox is in so many ways superior to IE. One of the primary annoyances with IE is the amount of spyware it allows onto a system. Running the admittedly inferior Windows 98SE I would often run my spyware scanner to find forty plus items needing removal some of them deemed critical. Running Firefox this is down to one or two negligible objects inherent to the programmes I have installed (Windows Media Player and Realplayer histories being a good example). Firefox claims this is because it does not load the potentially harmful Active X controls inherent in the IE system. This is supported by the definition from netdictionary.com which describes Active X as, "A software technology developed by Microsoft that allows programmed capabilities or content to be delivered to Windows-based personal computers via the World Wide Web. Active X is notable for a complete lack of security controls; computer security experts discourage its use over the Internet." Add to this a pre-installed pop-up blocker which blocks most annoying ads and what we have is a far superior browser. I remain unconvinced ****************** The main reason many others and I choose Firefox over IE is it entirely customisable to individual needs. Lets start with the fact the search engine is built into the toolbar. Discreetly placed in the right corner of the screen I have instant access to Google, Yahoo, Askjeeves and countless other engines if I so wish. It is in its ease of use that Firefox continues to surpass IE. Tabbed browsing is perhaps my favourite advantage Firefox has over IE. Do you browse multiple websites perhaps browsing ebay while looking at dooyoo reviews and checking your email? The multi-taskers amongst us can do this by a simple open in tabs option in the bookmarks section in the Firefox toolbar. No more multiple and obtrusive windows instead have your webpages neatly organised in a filing style system along the top of the page. No waiting for separate pages to load either as they all load pretty much at once. What I also like is unlike IE there is no chance of you accidentally closing a window down as Firefox asks for confirmation first. No more losing dooyoo reviews due to a misclick (which I know I should prepare offline but I hate MS Word!). There are an assortment of skins, plug-ins and themes available to make Firefox even more suitable to your needs. I hate the ads prevalent on sites such as dooyoo and yahoo yet by installing adblock as an add on to Firefox I merely have to right click on an ad to remove it. Indeed by clicking on adblock I can remove all the irritating ads on a page! The amount of plug-ins and extensions available is amazing. Just last week a found a handy ebay one that with the right click of a mouse displays the negative feedback of a member. Of course none of this would be any good if Firefox was incompatible with popular software. Fortunately, Firefox is compatible with nearly all popular programmes including Java and Realplayer. Indeed downloading programmes such as these is made even easier with Firefox's simple download manager that shows how long an item has left and downloads it straight to the desktop. No more searching files and folders and you can even open the installation files from the download manager itself. I cannot be bothered with the hassle ***************************** Do not worry. Firefox is made for ease of transfer and automatically transfers all your favourites, Internet history, cookies and passwords to its system. At a small 4.7MB download it really could not be any easier. Firefox works on a fairly minimal PC and all operating systems Windows 98 onwards including Linux and Mac. How fast is it? ************ Fast! A little faster than IE with its basic configuration but you can tweak it to warp speed by typing about:config into the address bar and changing network pipelining to true then max requests to 500. Page loading then becomes virtually instantaneous. Any disadvantages? ***************** A couple. It can be slower on initial start up than IE and some websites may not appear as they should under Firefox. However, this is usually a sign the website is insecure and such sites should probably be avoided. Nevertheless there is an extension available for Firefox called IE view which allows a page to be loaded in IE if necessary. What about the other options? ************************* Of course there are other free browsers out there. Avant and Opera are supposed to be at the very least on a par with Firefox and certainly better than IE. However, I am happy with Firefox and considering the increased security and extra features would not at present consider switching to any other browser. Where to download? ***************** For those who are convinced download Firefox at http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/. For those who are not enjoy your pop-ups and adware.
If you like Netscape, don't really care for Internet Explorer, or just want something new, Mozilla is the choice. This is the core of Netscape, with a cool Graphical User Interface. While it can be hard to manage for non geeks, it can also crash on Linux based systems frequently. This browser is for many operating systems, but honestly stay with Netscape. The plugins are unstable and unsuitable. Get Netscape, or Opera, stay away from IE, and try something different for once.