While the Windows animated cursor vulnerability is getting patched, George Ou at ZDNet has highlighted a Firefox vulnerability (known to exist, but will not be made fully public until a patch is available) and noted that while IE7 under Vista runs in Protected Mode, with reduced (read-only) access to user data, Firefox doesn’t. And there’s no shortage of Firefox vulnerabilities recently.
Of course Protected Mode is Vista-only, so those of us hanging back with Windows XP won’t see the benefits. But it does leave me wondering: is the Firefox mantra of “Safer, faster, better” still true?
Safer: Well IE7 is more secure than previous versions, and even IE6 can fairly easily be secured against most ActiveX, particularly under XP SP2. Here’s a nice wrap-up of their security features. Who is quicker to patch their vulnerabilities? Mozilla or Microsoft?
Faster: Opera has previously shown to be fastest. But IE should have a natural speed advantage, by being part of the Operating System, and loaded into memory with other applications, such as applications that use HTML Help. And doesn’t it share code with Windows Explorer as well?
Firefox on old machines is particularly concerning to me (and others). As I write this, FF has one window with two tabs open, and is claiming 81Mb of memory.
What’s more noticeable is that, with no scientific basis for claiming it, IE7 seems faster to me than FF 1.5 or 2.0. Interesting.
Better: Obviously this is a general comment. When I think back, what got me over to Firefox from IE6? Tabs — now in IE7, though I still like the “feel” of the tabs in FF better (in fact I prefer FF 1.5 to 2.0, just because I’m used to it). Popup blocker — now in IE7. Security — see above. What else? Other than a wish to help IE lose market share and sock it to the Evil Empire, I can’t think of much right now.
The FF Web Developer toolbar is great, but IE has a comparable product — admittedly though there are loads of community-written FF extensions. Indeed, Jeff Atwood highlights the very powerful web developer tools available for FF, for which IE has no equivalent.
There are still web sites (particularly on Intranets) that work in IE but are partially broken in FF. And that Firefox tooltip bug is still not fixed.
So will I switch back? Maybe not, out of inertia. And not unless Google (or someone else) does a browser sync for IE — though there’s no shortage of manual ways of getting bookmarks between IE and FF.
And of course, anybody involved in web development (as I am) should check their web sites in both (and Safari and Opera, preferably).
For everyday browsing though, IE is probably back to being as good as FF, and possibly faster. And while I really like FF, I do think it’s become less compelling to install FF on new/rebuilt machines — particularly older ones.