Posted by: reformedmusings | August 30, 2008

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 vs. Firefox 3.0.1

The Redmond empire has released Internet Explorer 8, beta 2 to the world. The market share of their free browser, although deeply ingrained into Windows itself, has been steadily eroding. It’s down to about 59% now, which is amazing when you consider that it comes free and preinstalled on every single Windows PC sold. My favorite browser, the cross-platform Firefox, has grown to almost 20% market share overall, and an even higher 25% in Europe and 31% in Australia/New Zealand. Perhaps the Visigoths are truly at the gates of the city.

Why would IE’s market share be steadily declining? For one thing, Firefox has dramatically better performance and security than IE. Firefox’s functions can be extended or limited through extensions that YOU control. I have mine set for high security against java scripts, flash content, cookies, pop-ups, ads, browser redirection, secure website spoofing, etc. By default I allow nothing, yet I can change any of those settings with just a mouse click to receive content. There is also no ActiveX in Firefox, greatly limiting security problems. The few security protections which are available in IE require you to drill through menus to access and change. There are hundreds if not over a thousand extensions available for Firefox, and most often a number that perform similar functions to give users a choice. All free with the source code available for inspection or customization. There’s even an extension to delete all desired privacy information (history, cookies, cache) with a click, or browse in full stealth mode (what, you thought that was new to the world in IE8?). I simply set Firefox to delete my privacy stuff every time I close it down. Even with IE8, Microsoft hasn’t caught up to a fraction of the stuff Firefox can do.

One of the great things about Firefox is that it can be run from USB flash stick thanks to the folks at Portable Applications. You can set up Portable Firefox just like your desktop, with all the necessary extensions to keep you secure on the road. The Stealther extension can keep you about as private as you’ll ever get on a public computer. I’ve been very impressed with this arrangement, having used it for a couple of years.

So, play with Internet Explorer 8 if you must. Or…break the chains and live free and secure with Open Source software.

UPDATE: I have a more detailed feature comparison in this post.



  1. […] there. I’ve used IE8b2 a bit on a Windows XP virtual machine with no real issues, and also compared it to Firefox 3.01. I installed SilverLight as well, but haven’t had a chance to mess with it […]

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