Don’t you just love a little friendly competition? For a long time, Microsoft’s aging and often inept browser for the Mac, Internet Explorer (MSIE), was the only game in town. Then along comes Mozilla 1.x.
A bit slow and a bit buggy and more than a little bloated, but with good features and a welcome alternative to Microsoft’s lack of browser effort.
When development of MSIE lagged far behind the Windows version, Apple took up the challenge (as did the folks at Mozilla.org who trimmed down their browser and molded it into what became Firefox) and introduced Safari.
The Mac’s new browser took center stage. It was fast, clean, simple, handled bookmarks with ease, and did a nice job on tabbed browsing. Indeed, our own server logs attest to how quickly Safari took over. Fully 70-percent of our visitors use Safari.
Firefox, on the other hand, was that pesky startup; a reincarnation of Mozilla. Cross platform at that. Fast, lean, features you need rather than a feature list that would rival Microsoft Word.
The Mozilla group just released the 1.0 “preview” of Firefox and it’s as hot as the Firefox logo.
Why would you use Firefox instead of Safari? Choice is good, right? Frankly, Firefox has more features and some of them are worthy. Like Safari, Firefox is loaded with Popup Blocking to reduce annoying ads, Tabbed Browsing to make loading and looking through multiple pages a snap, or, rather a click.
The two also have a Google Search built right into the toolbar. One advantage Firefox has over Safari is in the Google search area. Of course, there’s no difference in the search results, but Firefox adds a few nice touches.
Click on the Google logo arrow and you get a nice selection of additional browsing tools not available on Safari. Yet. These include searching Yahoo, Google, eBay, Dictionary.com, and Amazon.com.
That’s a sweet touch.
Safari promises live RSS integration with the 2.0 version due next year with the release of Mac OS X “Tiger.” Firefox gives that to you now.
Sorta. There’s a catch. It’s not totally integrated but handy nevertheless. Click on an RSS icon on a web site will bring up Firefox’s Add Bookmark dialog. Mozilla calls this feature Live Bookmarks. I had trouble getting it work the way I wanted on the Mac but it worked on Windows. Go figure.
Windows users will like the fact that Firefox is not only faster than their version of MSIE it’s also more secure. Firefox doesn’t download those pesky and harmful ActiveX controls so even Windows machines can be safer from malicious spyware code.
Another handy feature we’ve come to enjoy on the Mac is customization of the tool bars. Safari allows some minor customization of tool bar and header components. Firefox does more; more buttons, more extensions, more themes (some people don’t like Safari’s brushed aluminum theme).
Full screen shots of web pages are also possible as is a neat touch to text zooming. Safari has that, too. Firefox makes it easy.
Considering the fact that there are web “standards” out there for everyone to use, Microsoft’s arrogant approach to rendering web pages according to their standards is sad.
Is Firefox a worth browser for Mac OS X? Yes. It’s also free from Mozilla.org.
To view an indepth comparison of all major Mac browsers, Click Here. Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts about Firefox with other users. Click the Comments link below.