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Foxy Jackson

Alert reader (and birthday boy!) Brandon has brought to my attention a "Newsweek" column published by our favorite tech columnist Steven Levy. (Honestly, Levy's not always wrong – just often wrong-headed.) Levy makes the excellent point that millions of computer users (including an increasing number of Windows users) are switching from the built-in web browser Internet Explorer (which launched the giant antitrust suit, which threatened to bring Microsoft's unfair practices to a halt until the Bush administration took over the Department of Justice and let Bill Gates off with a slap on the wrist) to a new open-source browser named Firefox.

If you don't know what open-source means – or why you should care – that's fine. Levy will give you an oversimplified definition that'll cover the basics. He'll also tell you about beneficial Firefox features like tabbed browsing, which allows you to reduce clutter by keeping multiple websites open in one window, and "hot new RSS technology" which he's always misunderstood to be the most fantastic salve for all the world's ills.

Still, Firefox is a delightful alternative to Explorer, which is bloated, buggy, sluggish, and prone to security flaws. (Levy will explain all that for you.) Firefox runs faster, takes up less space on your hard drive, and just plain looks damn pretty. If you're using Windows, consider downloading it – it'll even transition your existing bookmarks over from Explorer if you'd like. If you're on a Mac (and... God bless you), you're probably already using Safari anyway, which is cuter than – and about as excellent as – Firefox. The point is, if you're using Explorer on either platform: for God's sake, stop it. Over the holidays, I got my dad converted to Firefox on his new PC laptop, and he's loving it – if he can do it, you can do it.

Plus, who can say no to this sweet little face?

4 Comments (Add your comments)

"Holly"Fri, 1/21/05 2:31pm

All right, I've got one that will stump you, though:

What if you're using Mac OS 9? What browser should you use then?

I'm looking at probably another half year of this before I e-mail you and various other advisors and ask about buying an actual new Mac with the still-futuristic-to-me OS X.

BrandonFri, 1/21/05 4:56pm

Jameson may shoot down this suggestion upon his return from Boston, but I had a good experience using Netscape 7.02 on OS 9 on my previous Mac. The newest version, 7.2, is for OS X, but you can still find the 7.02 download here.

"Holly"Sat, 1/22/05 11:50am

Many thanks! I'll give that a try.

Bee BoyFri, 2/11/05 6:42pm

Shoot it down? By no means! Sadly, the options are limited for OS 9'ers (in all forms of software, not just browsers) which is a shame, because it really isn't the OS 9'ers' fault. The only real options are Netscape 7.02 and IE, so Netscape becomes the lesser of those two evils – not just because IE is evil, but also because Microsoft halted browser development for the Mac so long ago that Netscape is the more modern of the two, which is a big deal when it comes to OS 9.

I had to try it out just now because I needed to test the Oscar pool form on OS 9 browsers so Holly would be able to vote this year. (Thanks to this comments thread, I knew exactly which browser she'd be using – and even had a link to download it. Thanks, Brandon!) Both IE and Netscape performed satisfactorily, which is good news (and shocking!). I'm no fan at all of Netscape 7's interface – with all the extra widgets and doodads (interestingly, these bloated features were cited by Blake Ross among his reasons for splitting from Netscape to develop Firefox, in this "Wired" article) – but it keeps up with modern sites okay, so I can't complain too much.

Can't wait till you join us on the OS X side of the fence. It's hardly perfect over here either, but at least they still make software for us.

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