Why I Switched to Mozilla Firefox

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So yesterday, after a few weeks of experimentation, I made the decision to transition from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to Mozilla Firefox as my default browser. I know, it’s hardly earth shattering news, and longtime Mozilla fans are likely rolling their eyes at my “discovery” of this platform, but it wasn’t an easy one for me as I’ve been using IE forever. Now, for those of you who may be smelling an anti-Microsoft rant from that opening, you’ll be disappointed. I’m not here to bash IE, as it’s – in my view – a fine product. To wit, the following are *not* the reasons I’m switching:

  1. Anti-Microsoft agenda – not only don’t we have one, I think product decisions made on emotion rather than pragmatism are always problematic. I’m going to use what’s best for me, period.
  2. Internet Explorer frustration – I’m not switching due to any inherent problems with IE’s browsing experience. It hangs on me occasionally, sure, but for the most part it’s a very good, very stable browser.
  3. Open Source zeal – open source is dramatically important to RedMonk, and a genuine cultural as well as business phenomenon. But just as I won’t choose products along an artificial anti-commercial software requirement, nor will I select open source simply because it’s that.

Instead, my reasons – or reason, actually – for switching was pretty straightforward, as many such decisions happen to be. It’s called tabbed browsing. It’s 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 Apple’s Safari and a variety of other products as well.

Why tabbed browsing? Well, it can be nice to have everything in one window but it’s not really a UI decision for me. Instead, it’s memory. I’m run a Thinkpad X23 – an ultralight laptop – as my standard work machine. It’s been a great, great box and I couldn’t recommend the X series Thinkpads more highly. But I’ve 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 (that’s just with the Boston.com sports page loaded, mind you), I can run one Firefox instance at around 36 MBs, and that’s 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 it’s the best I’ve 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, it’s IE out, Firefox in. We’ll see where things go from here.


  1. you know about shift+enter adding www. and .net and shift+ctrl+enter adding www. and .org, right? 🙂

    you probably do, but just making sure.

  2. Hey Tristan, I actually was aware of that, although to be honest I stumbled on it entirely by accident. Great little feature however.

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