Firefox won't replace IE for me -- at least not yet

I'd love to purge my PC of IE and never, ever fire it up again.

It's not that I am anti-Microsoft; I'm really not, though I lay no pro-Redmond claims down either.

Like the rest of the computing world, I have been using IE for a long time. Long enough, in fact, that I am ready for a change. Granted, the IE of today is not the same browser that knocked Netscape off my desktop in the late 90's but, you know, it's not all that much different either. And I oppose one-vendor markets. Instead I prefer to throw my support behind the little guy in hopes that I can help it grow and, in turn, proliferate more competition in the marketplace.

Security is a concern with IE as well. Secunia discovered more holes in IE 6 this week.

So I read most of the myriad stories about the little-browser-that-can-and-will steal at least a miniscule piece of Microsoft's market share and at best a chunk worthy of InfoWorld following it for some time to come. The decision to install Firefox was a gimme.

At first blush, I like it because it is similar enough to IE that I could navigate, pun very much intended, easily to get up and running without stumbling over any steps.

The first thing I wanted to do was set my default homepage to The New York Times. Easy enough.

Once that was taken care of, though, I clicked on a story and came to a page asking me to register. Wait a second, I did that about as long ago as I started using IE. What did I choose as my username and password again, anyway?

When installing Firefox, I had elected to import existing IE settings, including favorites and stored passwords. It reorganized my bookmarks into alphabetical order and added an icon next to the bookmark for InfoWorld, pretty slick.

While the favorites came through, stored passwords did not. My colleague Ed Scannell, it is worth pointing out, also downloaded Firefox but did not experience this same problem.

Taking stabs at current and past username/password combinations ate a few minutes of my time but got me into the site nonetheless. The next Web page I visited that required registration made me realize that I have more username/password combinations out there than I could recall.

I rely on a handful of sites that assigned me with a username and, naturally, they are my most important sites. I had to search through my e-mail, neither easy nor pleasant, to find those usernames, but eventually located them.

After doing that twice, though, I gave in and fired up IE so I could go straight into secure sites.

When I had time available later, it was easy enough to locate in the help documentation, which is tailored for IE users, about how to import everything again, and the second time I tried it worked without a hitch. Password problem solved.

Any hesitation on my part to use IE was merely prolonging the inevitable, as I figured it necessary for a critical application and the software I use to post to this blog. Just to be sure, I emailed fellow blogger and our CTO Chad Dickerson, proponent and practitioner of open source, who confirmed my suspicions that said application is dependent on IE because of how the browser interacts with Microsoft Word.

For the blogware, Firefox would work, so long as I do not mind doing a little hand-coding for things like the HTML links embedded into posts. From my perspective it is not a matter of minding or not minding, the issue is practical in nature. Hand-coding even something as simple as HTML links is just not a good use of my time, especially not when IE can automate the process.

So my applications have kept IE alive in my system, and relegated me to browser purgatory. There will be no IE purging just yet.

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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