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Take Back The Web.
Product Review of the FireFox Browser.
 


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'Take Back the Web' . . .

           Microsoft has had it their way for so long that, today, more than 90% of all the people who surf the Internet do so with Microsoft Internet Explorer browser software. The resultant lack of browser diversity has made the task easier for the writers of malware such as viruses, worms and spyware because they only need to pursue the vulnerabilities of one browser to penetrate more than 90% of the market.

           Today, Microsoft released yet another batch of patches including several updates termed 'critical' and 'highly critical' updates. At this writing, Microsoft servers are straining to provide downloads to everyone who is requesting the latest massive bundle of software patches, upgrades, security fixes, and updates.

           Yawn. . . . Oh, sure: I will get in line with the rest of the world and download all that critical stuff - eventually.   But I don't feel like I am at risk as much anymore because I no longer use the Microsoft Internet Explorer. After the last ponderous Service Pack download, I had finally 'had enough' of Microsoft's never-ending software bandages, bailing wire and duct-tape. On the advice of a friend, I downloaded the free shareware browser FireFox 1.0

           I was most interested in the security of FireFox but a bonus was all the nifty features I quickly grew to love.

           Downloading and installing FireFox was easy and trouble-free. The biggest problem I had was swallowing my fears and clicking 'OK' on several warnings that popped up as the download and installation progressed. I guess my computer was trying to protect me from what it assumed was a malicious executable file being downloaded. And, for all I knew, maybe I was - I didn't know for sure. All I could do was have the faith that the software I was downloading was truly benign.

           That being said, as soon as the download was complete, I unplugged the Internet cable and ran four scans. 'McAfee Virus Scan', 'Microsoft AntiSpyware', 'LavaSoft AdAware' and 'Spybot Search and Destroy' all came back negative. I breathed a sigh of relief and began to enjoy FireFox.

           Without permission, FireFox will not try to coerce you to make it the default browser. But when the time comes, it is easy to make FireFox the default browser. Just go to the 'tools\options\general' tab and click on the option. Internet Explorer saved values, favorites and settings will also transfer with a single click. That is all ther is to it!

On the surface, FireFox looks like any other browser. There are the standard buttons.  'Favorites' are now 'Bookmarks'.  'History' is now 'Go'. Nearly everyone should easily recognize how to use it at first sight.           On the surface, FireFox looks like any other browser. There are the standard buttons. 'Favorites' are now 'Bookmarks'. 'History' is now 'Go'. Nearly everyone should easily recognize how to use it at first sight. But there are some cool features 'under the hood':
  • Popup Blocking: Discretionary popup ad blocking
  • Tabbed Browsing: Open many web pages at once and tab between them.
  • Central Download Manager: Download criterion in one place
  • Themed Interface Choices
  • Built-in theme/plugin browsing and installation: Totally customize FireFox to suit your individual needs
  • 'Master Password': Protects your saved web passwords
  • Integrated Browser Address Bar and Search Bar.
           The full range of SSL and TLS encryption options are supported, so FireFox is safe to use for online banking, shopping and other secure transactions. FireFox highlights secure addresses in color on the 'Go' bar so you can tell at a glance whether or not you are on a secure connection. A unique security option that FireFox offers is to allow cookies and images to only load from the web site you are viewing and not allow them to load from third parties.

           As of today, FireFox has eclipsed AOL's 22 million to become the second most utilized browser on the Internet. OK, 22 million might sound like a large number - and it is - but it is barely microscopic when compared to the number who still use Internet Explorer. But, with 23 million downloads since November 2004, FireFox is exploding onto the Internet. It is a phenomenal feat considering there are no billionaire software developers promoting it; only thousands of ordinary people working together to craft a superior web browser.

          I am not sure I understand all the different components that make FireFox more secure than Internet Explorer. I will attest I have not picked up any malware in the two weeks I have been using FireFox. In my 'Internet Explorer Days', 100 intrusions per week was 'normal'. And, FireFox is agile and intuitive. Surfing is fun again! I am sure, once you try FireFox 1.0, you will appreciate their slogan: 'Take Back the Web'

           To Download or For More Information on the Free Shareware Browser FireFox 1.0, Consult  FireFox.Com .   Authorized download of FireFox 1.0 is also available at   C/Net Download.Com

Doc

2005.02.07






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