Why I won't use Firefox

I just downloaded and installed Mozilla 1.7.5, which, as far as I was able to determine, is the latest non-beta release. Over the next few weeks I'm going to go through the unenviable chore of updating all compatibility tables yet again. You may note that I did not download Firefox. In fact, I've downloaded it months ago and within a few minutes decided it's not going to become my default browser.

For years I've maintained that Mozilla's naming and release policies are far too complicated, and the events of 2004 have only strengthened this feeling. From time to time I get mails asking me why I don't test my stuff in Firefox, and though the writers usually know Firefox descends from Mozilla, they overrate

  1. the differences between Firefox and Mozilla when it comes to page rendering
  2. the amount of time I'm willing to spend on browser tests

Aside from this confusion, which will only grow as time progresses and excitable newbies who know not Mozilla's name appear on the scene, a short testing period has convinced me that Firefox is definitely worse than Mozilla when it comes to ease of use.

Saying the unsayable

Joe Clark said the unsayable months ago:

If you're some kind of Firefox fanboy of either or any gender, where were you when Mozilla was at a similar stage of development? Why weren't you using it then? Why are you pretending that history never happened?

Why are you acting like Moz isn't at version 1.7, while your little baby is merely a little baby at 1.0 "preview" level?

Why do you think your piddling little arriviste browser, which does nothing but browse, is really better than a mature product that browses, slices, and dices?

Follows an interesting list of features that Mozilla has had for ages and Firefox does not support. I'd like to add two items to that list:

  1. Firefox doesn't support Ctrl+Q to quit the entire application. This is not a terrible problem, multiple Ctrl+W's will do the trick, too, but why leave out something as useful and simple as this feature?
  2. Firefox doesn't have the useful Mouse Wheel preference screen, where I can define Shift+wheel as "scroll down fast". I use this feature a lot (and I mean really a lot), especially since TextPad, my editor of choice, supports the same combination. It's extremely useful when I have to scroll through thousands of lines of source code, and without it I simply cannot do my work.
    Since Firefox doesn't support it I don't use Firefox.


Besides, there's a less technical, more psychological problem: Firefoxers are thinking in too complicated patterns. See, for instance, the FirefoxIE initiative, which offers a Firefox that looks and behaves exactly like Internet Explorer.

From a branding point of view this is an excellent idea. The less Firefox differs from Explorer in look-and-feel, the more likely people are to switch. Before applauding the initiative, though, let's take a look at the instructions:

  1. Get Firefox. Obvious and simple.
  2. Install extensions then restart Firefox. This is more complicated, especially since the form offers a lot of features the average Explorer user will not understand.
  3. It's getting worse now: about:config Security Settings. Do you see non-techies rummaging about in what is obviously a very technical screen? They'd rather not touch it.
  4. Step 4 through 8 become progressively worse; they
    1. try to solve problems that the average user won't see as problems
    2. give complicated instructions about editing Firefox core files that even I wouldn't really like to touch, let alone a non-technical person who just wants to move towards Firefox.

I feel this example shows that in their enthousiasm Firefoxers can get carried away by technical possibilities, without paying attention to their target audience. What is the target audience of this initiative?

  1. If the target audience consists of average users who'd like to switch yet keep their well-known IE features, the instructions are far too technical.
  2. If, on the other hand, the target audience consists of users who understand the technical instructions, the initiative overlooks the fact thay they won't have any interest in keeping up IE appearances and would rather switch to Firefox pure and simple (in fact, they're likely to have done so already).

The people behind FirefoxIE are not the only ones to make that mistake, and I certainly don't want to single out this initiative for criticism. I use it as an example of what is wrong with the current Firefox evangelism only because this site has recently come to my attention. A little web search will probably turn up dozens of such examples.

Browser neutral hype free information

Despite all this the wave of history is not to be denied: Firefox has become the alternative to Explorer. I don't mind having an alternative at hand, in fact I'd love the browser market to become more diversified. Nonetheless I'd hoped for a more mature product to take the vanguard place in the upcoming struggle for market share.

Which leads to an interesting ethical point: do I support a less-than-optimal product that I myself don't like for the sake of combating Explorer dominance? For now, my answer is No. I will applaud any decrease of Explorer's market share, but will deplore any increase of Firefox's. I won't do anything to influence the outcome of this struggle, though. No "Get Firefox" buttons for me.

This site has always been browser-neutral. Its purpose is to show how to make CSS or JavaScript features work in all browsers, and I've always been careful not to lean too much to one browser or another. Besides, I feel my readers want factual, hype-free browser information instead of panting evangelism for this or that product.

Therefore I advise my readers to stay away from Firefox. Mozilla (the real one, mind you), Opera and Safari are excellent alternatives for Explorer. Pick your choice. Of course, if you want to stick to Explorer, that's fine by me, too.

This is the blog of Peter-Paul Koch, web developer, consultant, and trainer. You can also follow him on Twitter or Mastodon.
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Comments are closed.

1 Posted by Mark Wubben on 9 January 2005 | Permalink

I'm not really sure what you are onto here... as you pointed out Firefox uses the same rendering engine as Mozilla, so you can't have a beef with that, right? As for other features, I really do not miss the things Joe Clark pointed out, be it because I don't need them or because I have some extensions which "enable" them. (However it could be argued that the average user won't use these extensions)

The question I think you should be asking is "Why is Firefox more populair than Mozilla?". Right now you are "bashing" Firefox for very subjective reasons, so what's the point of this post?

2 Posted by Dante Evans on 9 January 2005 | Permalink

Having recently switched to Firefox from Opera, I see your point (I think). Firefox has now way to open a link in the same window. Your only options with the right click context menu are "open in new window" or "open in new tab". Why can't I just have the same tab?

Firefox is ahead of the curve from Mozilla. FF supported opacity before Mozilla did.

3 Posted by Robbert Broersma on 9 January 2005 | Permalink

Have you filed a bug against the missing CTRL+Q shortcut key already? That's the way to get these things done.

Dante: are we talking about the official releases here? I think you should be comparing nightlies instead, if so.

4 Posted by Pierre Labe on 9 January 2005 | Permalink

Being 'browser neutral' apparently does not prevent rather subjective ranting against one specific product, actually advising AGAINST it. Well, there's 'neutral' for you! Quite a letdown from such a well respected and otherwise informative webspace...

Do you object to Intel and AMD too, for giving their processors different names? Is MS so much better, having MSIE 5.0, 5.1 or 5.5 which differ to such extend that one could think of them as different products? Volkswagen has changed the names of some of their vehicels recently, do you advise anybody to stay away from Volkswagen because of this?

The only thing that matters is what's in the box! With software in general, 99% of the work is done using only 1% of the features. Bloatware like MSIE or Mozilla support features 80% of which is NEVER used. If you have a use for one or two of those features, lucky you, but you're probably alone in the crowd! Which is not to say that you're argument for any other product is invalid! It's what makes one product stand out against the competition. But only one of many.

On the other hand, one could argue that Firefox concentrates on optimizing the 1%, and more or less ignores the rest. One could say it concentrates on its core business, which is a sound foundation for any product, and certainly no philosophy one should easily and ignorantly dismiss as you do in this article!

If my customers ask me about Firefox, I tell them I've been using it to great satisfaction for well over 2 years now, and it's up to them to download it and see for themselves! Hey, if they want to give Lynx a try, be my guest! For average web-surfers I see no objection whatsoever that would have me advise for or against any of the major contenders on the market today.

5 Posted by Aaron Barker on 9 January 2005 | Permalink

Something else to consider is that Firefox is a stand alone browser. Maybe people don't want a full suite of mail/chat/etc. Yes you can choose the "custom" option to not install those parts, but if we are trying to get "grandma" off of IE then the custom option may not be an option.

None of the arguments made have anything to do with a "regular" user... they are all "power" user issues. I understand that we are power users who are chatting about it, but the reason it is getting so much attention right now is that for regular users it's quick and easy, and is a major step up from what they are using. Why not take a step back and support/acknowledge it from a higher point of view then to summarily dismiss it due to it's lack of power functionality? Most people don't need that, and so why "deplore" it's use as a result?

6 Posted by Vladimir Stepanov on 10 January 2005 | Permalink

Have you tried to compare the engines of Firefox and Mozilla? I mean is there a big difference in terms of what your whole site is about -- getting the page appear and behave in a browser neutral way? Any quick glance?

Rendering peculiarities, that's what matters to me as a developer. Are there any, could you pinpoint some?

7 Posted by Worldseye on 10 January 2005 | Permalink

PPK, As this is my first post on your site, I'd first like to thank you for the great resource and useful information you provide.

In response to your 2 points regarding Mozilla features unavailable in Firefox, I'd like to make the following contribution:

1. Ctrl+Shift+W or Alt+F4 Close the current Window, and as you alluded to Ctrl+W closes the currently focused tab.

There is also an extension called KeyConfig which enables you to change and customise nearly all shortcut key combinations to your liking.

The extension can be found here:
http://www.extensionsmirror.nl/index.php?showtopic=255&hl=key (The enhanced version to the bottom of the post works with Firefox 1.0)

2. The excellent SmoothWheel extension for all Gecko-based browsers enables the functionality you mention and in addition allows other more advanced configuration options.

For anyone who is not already familiar with it, you can find it here: http://smoothwheel.mozdev.org/

I personally have used Firefox as my default browser since version 0.7.. I had tried the Mozilla Suite but the customisability and extensibility of Firefox won me over from IE and I couldn't be happier with the decision.

My advice to users who are curious about different browsers is to try as many as you have time to and ask people who have had experience with them as many questions as you can.

I hope that through doing so, you will find the browser that gives you the best browsing experience for you..

R.e. Post 6:

There should be no rendering differences between builds of Firefox and Mozilla that use the same build of the Gecko rendering engine, however, the Milestone builds (Firefox1.0, Mozilla1.7.5) use different versions, therefore they will demonstrate differences with certain markup/styles..

The upcoming Firefox1.1 (E.T.A March 2005) is based on the latest trunk builds and will feature all the bug-fixes and enhancements that appear in the latest Mozilla1.8 alpha build's rendering engine.

Hope this was helpful.



8 Posted by John Wong on 10 January 2005 | Permalink

Well, I have to be honest; I don't really see the big problem here with Firefox. If you claim that Firefox and Mozilla are similar to warrant not to study Firefox, I have no issue with that.

But if you ask me, the average user wouldn't even bother to use the FirefoxIE extension. They'll just go straight to using Firefox. The only people I know who use the FirefoxIE extension are hardcore IE people, and I don't know many of them.

9 Posted by Chris Hester on 10 January 2005 | Permalink

Reasons why Firefox has taken over from Mozilla:

Mozilla = BLOATWARE. Too big to download. Too many unwanted features, like the HTML composer.

Firefox = EXTENSIONS. These beat Mozilla because they are INFINITE. As the above comments prove, anything such as fast mouse wheel scrolling can be added. Plus have you not heard of the Web Developer extension? (Surely the killer reason to run Firefox for testing.)

Anyway, does Mozilla do RSS natively? Firefox does via Live Bookmarks. It even has a superior DOM Inspector (as it can be run fullscreen, not limited to a crushed side panel). Perhaps there are many other benefits not found in Mozilla?

Anyway, you should do all your tests in Firefox, because that's what the majority will be looking for results in. It's no use trying to tell people that the rendering engine is the same as Mozilla, that just won't wash. Many users simply won't know of the similarity. They want to know if X, Y and Z works in *Firefox* full stop.

10 Posted by Carps on 10 January 2005 | Permalink

What an odd post.

Firefox is designed and built as a standalone alternative to Internet Explorer. Seen in this context, it needs to be lightweight, easy to download, install and run, support web /DOM standards as nearly as possible, and not be so wildly different to IE that new users won't be able to use it. On all counts this is exactly what it does.

Mozilla adds more to this mix than necessary and caters more to a technical audience with specific needs. C'east La Vie

Sadly, in technology fields it is hardly uncommon to find people taking a holier-than-thou attitude to their chosen technology. Linux vs. Unix vs. Mac vs. PC vs. Punchcards vs. Steampower... and in pretty much every case, it boils down to a sniffy refrain of: "This is what I understand and use. XXXXX is poor because I don't understand it or use it."

So someone has written a poorly-realised extension to make Firefox more like IE? Why are we getting so hot under the collar about this instead of the fact that IE is nowhere near as standards compliant as any of the major alternatives?

And given your viewpoint, how does all this square with the assertion that you will "...show how to make CSS or JavaScript features work in all browsers..."? If Firefox is sufficiently different to Mozilla to warrant your disdain, surely it needs to be documented as assiduously as the microversions of Opera and IE that you're seemingly happy to footle about with?

11 Posted by Pascal Lachat on 10 January 2005 | Permalink

First, thanks a lot for the great ressources you put on your site!
I don't feel the need to change your views about the li'l browser. It's great enough that you include Mozilla!
However, if one day you happen to fire the fox again, please take a look at the "developer's toolbar" extension. That's the sweetie which prevents me from ever looking back: really changed the way I surf the web, as says the proverb.



12 Posted by Barry Kelly on 10 January 2005 | Permalink

I don't know what the source of your animosity towards Firefox is, but spare a thought for those people who've used IE since the days of Netscape 3, and have, for the first time, found a browser which provides a better browsing experience. That's Firefox in a nutshell. Simply a better browser.

Not necessarily better named, better looking, better configuration options, better Shift+MouseWheelDown handling, better rendering, or all of the little nitty gritty things which I'd never noticed before you mentioned them.

13 Posted by Philip Hazelden on 10 January 2005 | Permalink

Carps: he's not saying anything against or even about Firefox's rendering engine. Any differences between it and Mozilla's will be caused by the fact that they get released at different times. He's talking about the chrome and the users.

I had a few problems with Firefox 1.0 myself. Namely that middle click would, unless I enabled autoscroll (unless it's smoothscroll that I'm thinking of), take me to a seemingly random web page, and even if I did enable autoscroll middle-clicking a tab (which should close it) would do the same thing. It would also, when I clicked 'open in tabs' with a bookmark folder, repace the bas I had open. I solved both of them by going into about:config (middleMouse.contentLoadURL and browser.tabs.loadBookmarksInBackground), but it certainly wasn't intuitive. There are even some values that need to be specified as integers, with no clue as to what they do. Shift-scroll doesn't seem to do anything for me, which is apparantly action 2. A list of possible values as strings would be far nicer, but it's still impossible to find what you're looking for. There are some extensions that help (Tabbrowser Preferences would have solved my second problem), but easy customisation for at least the options that people are at all likely to use should be built-in.

The main problem with extensions is that although the profile folder is theoretically portable across different versions, the extensions often aren't, so you get problems unless you delete your profile and download everything again. At the very least there should be an option in the setup box to install some extensions which make the UI much nicer.

As for the FirefoxIE thing, I agree that it sounds crazy. If they've got much sense, they'll probably make their own extension for it, but I don't see the point anyway. Still, at least they could have worse projects to work on.

14 Posted by Greg on 10 January 2005 | Permalink

PPK, I totally encourage you to do tests with popular browsers because it seems more useful to people searching the net ( or visiting your site) for browser or compatibility information.

15 Posted by Andreas Baitis on 10 January 2005 | Permalink

I think the bottom line is, Firefox is getting more popular, so we need to make the web work in Firefox. Which as we all know, is pretty much the same as making it work in Mozilla.

It's obvious which browser Mozilla are pushing, and this one is most likely going to end up on the desktops of non techies, looking for an alt to IE.

Peter-Paul thanks for all the wonderful up to date info on your site, it's one hell of a reference, and has personally saved me alot of head scratching. You are a very patient man.

16 Posted by ppk on 11 January 2005 | Permalink

"Sadly, in technology fields it is hardly uncommon to find people taking a holier-than-thou attitude to their chosen technology."

Completely true, Craps, and thanks for illustrating the principle so beautifully.

Mark, Pierre, if I were "really" objective, which browser would I recommend? Hint: starts with an "F" and ends with an "X". So much for objectivity.

I deny that there is any important difference between Mozilla and Firefox when it comes to page rendering. If you insist the differences are serious enough to test Firefox as extensively as Mozilla, then do the tests and publish them. I'll be grateful to you and link to you.
(Needless to say, no one ever takes me up on an invitation such as this. Everybody suddenly discovers urgent business elsewhere when it comes to the humble footwork)

As to extensions vs. integrated features: yes, that is a real difference between Firefox and Mozilla, and serious arguments pro and con can be found. Personally I don't see why a simple feature like the Shift+MouseWheel suddenly has to become an extension and has to be installed separately, but it's a defensible viewpoint.

17 Posted by John Wong on 12 January 2005 | Permalink

I have to say while I feel it is worth your time to test in Firefox, I don't think you should make a separate compatibility tables for Firefox; their is little difference between what they do.

18 Posted by ppk on 12 January 2005 | Permalink

John, if it is worth YOUR time testing stuff in Firefox, by all means do so. It's not worth MY time, though.

19 Posted by Carps on 12 January 2005 | Permalink

I still don't get the point of the article.

You state:

1) Mozilla's DOM / CSS support is superior to IE.

2) Any fall in IE's market share is to be applauded.

3) Firefox's rendering engine is so similar to Mozilla as to be not worth testing independently.

Therefore, the conclusion most people would reach is that you would welcome Firefox. Instead you "deplore" it because you can't use your scroll wheel like you can in Mozilla and don't like a particular extension. And yet people who feel no need to use Mozilla's extra features and prefer the lightweight alternative are "panting evangelists" and "fanboys."

Experience tells me that its hardly worth having this debate, so I'll leave on a more positive note:

I always (except just this once!) find your articles and scripts to be indispensable, and thanks for the great insight you've brought to an area of web development which to a server-side coder like me has often been mystifying.

20 Posted by ppk on 12 January 2005 | Permalink

1, 2 and 3: all correct. Conclusion: I'm happy with the Mozilla family of browsers. It's just that

a) I'm not very happy with Firefox specifically
b) I feel yet another cycle of religious wars coming, and I want to offer a counterweight

In my opinion Mozilla is the best browser. If you have serious arguments in favour of Firefox (like the extensions), fine, but I hope we can skip the religious stuff for once. Unfortunately even a "I don't like Firefox much" posting immediately causes people to froth at the mouth, and that's what bothers me.

21 Posted by Pierre Labe on 12 January 2005 | Permalink

I do not ask to recommend any browser. I'm just puzzled about what made you conclude that it were better to *stay away from ...", which I think is a rather stark statement which you give no solid argumentation to back up.

You may be trying to give a 'counterweight' but lacking any real arguments, the article does not add any substantial weight to the discussion at all and as such does not belong to appear on a quality site like quirksmode is.

If you would have said 'I advise my readers to stay away from Opera' my reaction would have been the same.

22 Posted by Rob on 13 January 2005 | Permalink

I agree with the consensus that this rant is a little harsh. But why? The first link in the article is a clue. Over the years I've noticed (here and at evolt.org) PPK's growing annoyance about Netscape/Mozilla's wildly inventive naming and numbering schemes. He even refuses to "correct" Mozilla version numbers in his otherwise perfect browser-detect script. I think this history helps explain the annoyance expressed here with Firefox. The new name and number send PPK into a "quirks mode" of his own - and it's really not a big deal. In fact, this side of PPK always makes me smile. And he has a point: The constant market-driven renaming and renumbering is false and inelegant. If PPK didn't care so much about this, maybe his own code would be less elegant than it is.

23 Posted by y5 on 13 January 2005 | Permalink

I use Firefox, I've written a couple of Firefox extensions, and I'm a regular visitor of this site.. PPK, you rock. It's nice to read thoughts that are not only very opinionated, but also reasoned and well-supported -- even if I don't see things the same way.

The minute you start watering your opinions down so as not to offend your growing readership, is the minute I stop visiting.

I've learned much of my javascript knowledge through your example scripts and explanations. Thanks for all your hard work!!

24 Posted by ppk on 13 January 2005 | Permalink

Rob, y5, thanks for your support. I wasn't planning on watering down my opinions, maybe only my way of expressing them.

I would like to add that I'm not opinionated, except that I'm afraid nobody will believe me.

25 Posted by ppk on 14 January 2005 | Permalink

See also these articles
for a good case study of the mindlessness of radical Firefoxists. Maybe it's this mindlessness, and not the product Firefox itself, that I object to.

Of course the same mechanisms apply to any other product with a passionate and defensive fan base.

26 Posted by sunflower on 15 January 2005 | Permalink

PPK I can understand that you do not particularly like Firefox, and that is perfectly reasonable. I myself consider Opera and Mozilla to be superior products.
However I do not see any reason for inserting the comments of Mr Clark as they add nothing to your argument. In response to Mr Clark's quote there are logicical reasons behind developing another Mozilla browser including:
1. Mozilla still closely resembles the discontinued Netscape and was perhaps not regarded by the general public as a different product, more as a rebranding.
2. Firefox is extremely similar to and yet more poweful than IE and as such may encourage less experienced users to an alternative browser. This may encourage users to make another transistion to a browser such as Opera or Safari.
3. Firefox is less of a draw on system resources. As for Mr Clarks comment about that ,(found when following the provided link,). Not everybody has 1gb of ram. Many people use much less able computers to access the internet and as an expert on content accesibility Mr Clark should understand that.
As for the demise of 'the' Mozilla I am disappointed also but there is always Opera and who knows maybe Longhorn's browser will be up to scratch.

27 Posted by A`ja on 18 January 2005 | Permalink

FYI: Mozilla 1.7.5 is supposed to be using the same Gecko level as FireFox 1.0...which should save some time with rendering tests.

28 Posted by Seth Thomas Rasmussen on 21 January 2005 | Permalink

Why do you think your piddling little arriviste browser, which does nothing but browse, is really better than a mature product that browses, slices, and dices?


For the same reason I don't want my photographic camera trying to be a video camera. When I want to edit code, I'll get a dedicated code editor. When I want to send email or monitor newsgroups, I'll use something like Thunderbird. But I don't necessarily want to be ready to do all of them at any given time. Get real.

It's a simple matter of choice and logical efficiency, seperation. Call upon resources if and when you need them.

The criticisms put forth by you and Mr. Clark are ironically dogmatic and fanboyish considering the argument posed.

That said, I wholly understand the reservations about browser dogmatism, but we must be careful not to slip into it and foster it before it even happens.

I also agree that FirefoxIE is a decent idea, but the execution is awful.

29 Posted by Joe Clark on 23 January 2005 | Permalink

I'm quite aware there are counterarguments to some of my points, but only some. There seems to be no effective counterargument to my accusation of bandwagonism, but if I keep on in this vein I'll end up sounding like a lesbian-feminist tract presented at a weekend colloquy in Islington.

30 Posted by Keith Willis on 25 January 2005 | Permalink

Well I've just finished trying to get a new site I'm developing for a client to display more or less identically in all of the major browsers. FireFox was a nightmare... it seemed to be actually missing important parts of the DOM and CSS standards. I applauded the death of NetScape as one less buggy browser to support and now I have this bloody FireFox to contend with. Seems to me that we've just switched headaches.

ps. If you want all the bells and whistles for your Browser then just get the free Avant Browser MDI front-end OLE automation of IE. It has more features than Opera, 100% compatibility with IE, and is quite quick since it uses just the internal IE rendering engine.

31 Posted by steve on 25 January 2005 | Permalink

Yeah....there r much complications in FireFox compared to IE. Moreover it takes much time wen we design a site and view it by FireFox. Even many events are missing compared to IE. Im sure IE rocks better than FireFox.

32 Posted by Aleksandar on 25 January 2005 | Permalink

Strange post, wasn't really sure what to think.

You (and Joe) like Mozilla better than Firefox. So be it. I don't get it why you are "angry" that majority like Firefox. It sounds like accussation of betrayal of some higher cause which is...beh.

Bandwaggonism? Ridiculous. There was a hype created around the good product, people took on it and liked the product. Hype grew. You are angry because there was no such thing for your browser of choice? Your problem.

As for me, I used Mozilla Suite before Phoenix showed up (0.6) then went to it and never looked back. And watched with great pleasure how installer size went down from 9MB to 4MB. Fantastic job by FF devs.

33 Posted by Philip Hazelden on 25 January 2005 | Permalink

#30: you probably need to rethink your definition of standards. Gecko isn't perfect, but it's the best rendering engine out there. It lacks some cool nonstandard features, but when it comes to the DOM and CSS, there's nothing better. Trident's last major update was around '98, IIRC.

I won't even bother with #31.

34 Posted by Paul Nelson on 26 January 2005 | Permalink

My own concern has to do with the evangelism for Firefox in MaximumPC magazine, supposedly aimed at the more advanced audience of PC users. (It seems from your article that theirs is simply one example of a puzzling trend.)
The magazine has presented Firefox for some time as the only serious alternative to IE, without any mention whatever of Opera (my browser for some time), which has been doing what Firefox aspires to for years.
When the editors finally responded to indignant inquiries on this lapse, their rationale was that Firefox was free...this in the very issue in which they bragged about their $10,000 "Dream Machine", money-no-object being the name of the game.
The absurdity of it, from a magazine whose supposed strong-point is fearless objectivity in rating competing products for the advanced user, leaves me wondering what on earth is going on here.
So far as I know, Opera is the de facto main competitor to IE, it is not expensive (free with some ads), is a leader in standards compliance and simple usability...if there are problems with it, I'd be glad to learn of them.
For supposed critics of IE to pretend it doesn't exist, or isn't worth evaluating, is a very peculiar form of opposition to Microsoft and its product, and far from helpful.
I do agree that expertise often does blind one to the public that is being sought--knowing too much, we often don't see the problem.
My own first impression, exactly along these lines, of Opera's beta 8 version, is of a much greater simplicity from the start--it would be interesting to see whether novice internet users find it so.