Firefox mania

Is it just me, or can you not escape Firefox in the media this last week? For this I heartily congratulate The Mozilla Foundation and all the app’s supporters for putting the word in the street. It’s rollout really seems to have got through to the average PC owner who didn’t think there was anything outside of IE to browse the web with. At first I couldn’t figure it out, and was a bit befuddled by all the press – and all the people coming to talk to me at work about this ‘new browser which is killing IE’, hence my rather low key posting last week.

Through virtually no effort on my part since I started using the web with Netscape 1 in 1994/5 I’ve never really used IE that much as my personal browser. Obviously I have to use it when I do any work with websites, but for actually doing my own browsing I’ve always looked to Netscape and then Mozilla/Gecko based browsers. I always felt that what killed Netscape was the ‘all in one’ solution of it’s Communicator offering – whereas MS with IE and Outlook Express had the right idea. I was disappointed to see Mozilla go the same way as Communicator, so when Firefox (then Phoenix I think) became the focus, I thought things looked up. Consequently I’ve been on Firefox betas since early on, and before that Camino on the Mac (Firefox’s closest relative really, and has had as many name changes too).

So when Firefox hit 1.0 I was a bit surprised by the level of new interest; “This thing has been available for ages” I kept thinking, but the bottom line is that most people won’t touch beta with a barge-pole, even if they know it’s available. I also misunderstood something else – the scope of the release – this is just a new browser right? I have to suspend my own experience to appreciate this – imagine you’re an unadventurous IE user and you cut to Firefox – hey TABBED BROWSING!! HOLY *&!@! (I can’t remember *not* having that), RSS wow – I can quickly check all these sites! A real bookmark manager! Easy-to-install extensions! Real cookie control! Pop-up blocking (SP2 excepted). I’m sure the Firefox team can list hundreds of others, but for the people who are now trying Firefox and are loving the above features – welcome, we’ve been expecting you.

The extensions you can plug into Firefox are really good too, and there are hundreds to choose from – the two I always have running are Adblock and Foxytunes.

If you’re liking Firefox, take a look at the mail client Thunderbird, and the less developed but very promising calndar app Sunbird.