Mozilla Firefox is the dream Internet browser you've been looking for. Featuring a host of small technical improvements, including tabbed browsing, built-in and customizable search bars, and a built-in RSS reader, Mozilla's Firefox browser is the one that should finally put a dent in Microsoft Internet Explorer's unrivaled market dominance. While its lack of ActiveX support might prevent some sites from working properly, after more than three weeks of use in our tests, Firefox remained fast and stable and displayed an impressive range of cutting-edge browsing options. We were able to view every Web site just fine, thank you. If you're fed up with the latest Internet Explorer security patch issued from Microsoft or with the latest virus to capitalize on some flaw in IE, you should switch to Firefox--now. Mozilla Firefox runs on a variety of Windows operating systems, including Windows 98 through XP, as well as on Mac OS X and several varieties of Linux, including Red Hat Linux 8.0. By comparison, to get the latest version of Internet Explorer 6.0, you must already be running Windows XP SP2; if you're not, you'll have to pay about $99 for your operating system upgrade. Microsoft no longer offers new versions of IE as standalone downloads. The hardware requirements for Firefox are minimal. PCs require only an Intel Pentium II or AMD K6 processor, and Macs need a PowerPC 604e 266MHz, with 64MB of RAM and 52MB of drive space.
It took us about 2 minutes to download the Firefox installer, and we had our browser up and running in less than 10 minutes. The Mozilla Organization offers a number of tools to ease the transition from Internet Explorer. For example, the application asked us if we wanted to import our bookmarks from IE, then did so with aplomb.
Most of the Firefox interface labels are intuitive, although users may need to learn a few different menu terms from those in IE: Options instead of Internet Options, Cache instead of Internet Files. In fact, at a glance, Firefox looks and works almost exactly like Internet Explorer.
Perhaps the most noticeable interface difference from IE is the addition of a customizable search bar built into the Firefox menu bar. Although Google, Yahoo, and others offer plug-in search bars for Internet Explorer, the Firefox search bar is much more flexible, allowing you to add not only other search engines but Amazon.com, eBay.com, Dictionary.com, and even IMDB.com.Firefox does not reinvent the browser, but it does provide technical enhancements that make Web browsing faster, safer, and easier. Like Internet Explorer, Firefox includes built-in controls to block pop-ups.
One major interface difference is Firefox's tabbed browsing feature, which lets you open several Web pages within a single browser window. Quickly move among pages by clicking the tabs at the top of the window. Compare that to IE, in which you must open several instances of the Microsoft browser, each requiring system resources. So viewing multiple Internet pages in IE can tax your computer, while tabbing through multiple pages within Firefox will not. Tabbed browsing is also available in the Apple Safari and Opera browsers, but not in Internet Explorer.