So yesterday, after a few weeks of experimentation, I made the decision to transition from Microsofts Internet Explorer to Mozilla Firefox as my default browser. I know, its hardly earth shattering news, and longtime Mozilla fans are likely rolling their eyes at my “discovery” of this platform, but it wasnt an easy one for me as Ive been using IE forever. Now, for those of you who may be smelling an anti-Microsoft rant from that opening, youll be disappointed. Im not here to bash IE, as its – in my view – a fine product. To wit, the following are *not* the reasons Im switching:
- Anti-Microsoft agenda – not only dont we have one, I think product decisions made on emotion rather than pragmatism are always problematic. Im going to use whats best for me, period.
- Internet Explorer frustration – Im not switching due to any inherent problems with IEs browsing experience. It hangs on me occasionally, sure, but for the most part its a very good, very stable browser.
- Open Source zeal – open source is dramatically important to RedMonk, and a genuine cultural as well as business phenomenon. But just as I wont choose products along an artificial anti-commercial software requirement, nor will I select open source simply because its that.
Instead, my reasons – or reason, actually – for switching was pretty straightforward, as many such decisions happen to be. Its called tabbed browsing. Its absurdly simple in concept, and not at all new; the idea is that rather than spawning new instances of the browser as IE does to visit multiple sites simultaneously, it opens them up as tabs within the single browser instance. And Firefox is hardly the only browser to have this – the regular Mozilla has it, as does Apples Safari and a variety of other products as well.
Why tabbed browsing? Well, it can be nice to have everything in one window but its not really a UI decision for me. Instead, its memory. Im run a Thinkpad X23 – an ultralight laptop – as my standard work machine. Its been a great, great box and I couldn’t recommend the X series Thinkpads more highly. But Ive only packed it with 256 MBs of RAM, meaning that at some point, I run out. So rather than run 5 or 6 IE instances at 45 MBs a piece (thats just with the Boston.com sports page loaded, mind you), I can run one Firefox instance at around 36 MBs, and thats with 6 sites open in 6 individual tabs. My poor little Thinkpad is ecstatic.
So why Firefox out of the browsers that offer this nifty little feature? Because its the best Ive found at mirroring the shortcut key conventions I use with IE (CTL + ENTER to add www and .com to anything typed in the address window, for example).
For now then, its IE out, Firefox in. Well see where things go from here.