How Firefox Can Beat IE

by Preston Gralla

In my last weblog entry, I noted that the upcoming beta of Internet Explorer was a significant upgrade over the existing IE -- so much so that it could jeopardize widespread acceptance of Firefox.

But as the song goes, it ain't necessarily so. There are seven things that can be done to Firefox to make sure it beats back the IE challenge:

  1. Fix its rotten updating scheme. The number one complaint I've heard about Firefox is how poorly its update scheme works. System crashes, incompatibilities, and just plain chaos…I've heard them all and been victimized as well. This needs to be fixed, and apparently version 1.5 will go a long way towards doing that.

  2. Offer better tab controls. Tab browsing is great…but just offering tabs is no longer enough. Firefox needs to add ways to more easily open, close, and manage them. Sure, there are plenty of extensions that do that for you, but it should be built right into the browser itself, and not be add-ons.

  3. Build better security. IE 7 will be a more secure browser than the current IE, and include built-in phishing tools. Firefox has rested on its security laurels too long -- and it's increasingly subject to security holes. It's time to build in better anti-phishing and other security tools.

  4. Fix the extension security problem. I've downloaded countless extensions. Every single one of them has been "unsigned" and carries a security warning. I've downloaded them anyway, and have yet to have a problem. But what happens when one of them really is malicious? Some way has to be found to check if the extensions are malicious.

  5. Solve extension incompatibilities. I've run across to many instances in which extensions cause problems when I browse Web sites. That needs to be cleaned up.

  6. Build RSS into the browser. The Firefox Sage extension is a great "lightweight" RSS reader. But IE is going to include RSS right in the browser. So Sage, or some other comparable RSS functionality, needs to be built right into the browser.

What do you think needs to be done to beat back IE? Let me know, below.

What does Firefox need to do to fight back against IE?


2005-09-19 14:23:30
RE: How Firefox Can Beat IE
In response to your 6th point, Firefox does have built in RSS support in the form of its live bookmarks. Its accompanying email program, Thunderbird, has even better RSS support. Although the Live Bookmark system can be improved, and it will be according to the Firefox roadmap, it certainly is not lacking anywhere near as much as IE is or probably even will be in IE7.
2005-09-19 15:47:16
I'll bite...
You mention seven things that need to be addressed, but only list six. What's the seventh?
2005-09-19 17:56:26
One thing that needs cleaning up
I used to work at, formerly and wondered why we didn't have a search plugin for Shopzilla. I was informed that it had been written and submitted, but there was an extremely large backlog of submissions. That needs cleaning up so that more online retailers can be part of the search plugins and possibly be the ones that have the de facto plugin, which might supercede nice, though likely inferior search plugins from others.
2005-09-19 23:37:59
My personal frustration with IE
As a software / Web designer, IE is my worst nightmare because it's full of weird bugs. IE 7 may finally catch up with Safari or Firefox in terms RSS or tab browsing, but many bugs are likely to remain.

Some interesting links to my blog ( :

A brutal solution to the IE z-index bug (

Why IE must die? (

2005-09-20 01:42:29

One reason I like Firefox is that it is a lightweight browser which doesn't come with a pile of stuff I don't need or want.

An alternative would be a download of Firefox that comes bundled with a stack of useful extensions. That way people can choose from a featureful Firefox or a lightweight Firefox.

2005-09-21 23:51:51
Hmm, how about Flock?
Seems like we're taking care of at least a few of your gripes with the upcoming release with Flock (

Though you didn't mention the ability to talk back to the web, as a blogger I imagine that getting extra capabilities that make blogging extraordinarily convenient wouldn't be a bad thing to have in Firefox, would it?

Hey, I'm a faithful Firefox user, but I could really use an integrated workflow that makes browsing the web a *whole* lot simpler and efficient.