For a long time, there really was not a viable alternative to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer for browsing the internet. Netscape was good, but just could not beat the marketing machine at Microsoft. Internet Explorer, which comes bundled with the Microsoft operating system, crashed now and then, but it was nothing major. Then along came virus’s, spyware, adware. . . and Internet Explorer was just not equipped to handle it. Microsoft could not keep up with the vulnerabilities and exploits. Every time you turned around, Microsoft was releasing another patch to try and keep Internet Explorer clean and safe. Then came along Mozilla’s Firefox web browser. What makes Firefox different? Security is one of the biggest reasons I would choose to use Firefox. In order to explain why, I am going to get just a bit technical. I really apologize for this, as I base this blog on trying to keep things simple. At any rate, Firefox is considered “open source software”. Open Source is really cool, and in a nutshell, the source code is open and available in project form on the internet for anyone to look at and submit changes to. The open source community has literally thousands of software projects out there. The beauty of this type of software project is that thousands of people work on the project, as opposed to a development department at a software company. This allows for creativity, flexibility, innovation, and quality. Open Source software is typically free, however many companies have open source initiatives and bundle the software with support fees. That is not a bad thing. You are getting quality software, along with the technical and end-user support you sometimes need. With many non open-source software companies, you pay a license fee for the privilege of using the software, and when you need support, you also pay for that. Think of Microsoft, you pay a few hundred dollars to use their operating system. . . Windows, and when you need support, you call the 800 number and have to give them a credit card number before they will even talk to you.
So, because Firefox is open source, and is developed by thousands of people around the globe, security holes are avoided, or closed quickly. An independent study shows that, in 2006, Internet Explorer users were vulnerable to online threats 78% of the time. Firefox users? Only 2%. Firefox also has some really cool features that I will be discussing over the coming days. Firefox version 3 is now out, and in most circles is considered the best Internet browser available. You can download it here: http://www.firefox.com/. So, stay tuned to my blog and over the next several days I will highlight many of the Firefox features for you. (I know, my postings have been less frequent these days, but trust me, I will make up for it!)