Thursday, January 17, 2008

Browser Review

I've been using Firefox 2 at home for sometime now, and Internet Explorer 7 at work. Internet Explorer 6 was very lacking in usability features, like tabbed browsing. IE 7 seems to add a lot of functionality and is surprisingly useful and responsive for something from the Microsoft stable. I suppose competition from Mozilla spurred them on. Hooray for choice and competition.

Firefox 2, out of the box has memory issues though when you leaving running or use it for a long time. It has great functionality, but eats RAM, and can become quite sluggish on a laptop. This can be relieved, but I thought I'd try another option, Opera.

My initial response was very enthusiastic. It's a small install and uses less memory than the other browsers. It's the browser that is used on the Wii console. However, after using it for some time, what I don't like is the plug-in support, called "widgets" in Opera. These don't seem to be dockable, like a lot of the Firefox plug-ins. Instead they can live on your desktop and you can access them when the browser in minimised. But why would you want to do this?

Plug-ins are important because they let you add extensions like del.icio.us toolbars, i.e. so you don't have to go via a web page to get to your links. There are lots of other useful integrated plug-ins as well which block adverts etc. The Opera widgets don't seem as integrated with the browser, which is disappointing.

I'm settling on Firefox 3, which is beta 2 at the moment. It seems a lot more responsive than Firefox 2 and they have supposedly fixed the memory leak issues. Not all sites work with beta 3 yet, e.g. Yahoo Mail, the new flashy version. And not all the add-ons have been ported from version 2, but it definitely looks like the most promising browser out there at the moment as IE 7 doesn't have anywhere near the community support that Firefox has.

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