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Internet Explorer Is Improved
The companies that develop web browsers are always saying that their web browser is the fastest, and they can all bring the statistics and test data to prove it. The truth is that when it comes to average web surfing, pretty much all of the browsers out there are at the mercy of the data connection speed, and not limited by how fast the browser can crunch the HTML and CSS of an average website. IE8 is no exception. But, when it comes to deciding which web browser is the best, there are a lot more things to consider than just speed.
Internet Explorer 8 finally brought Microsoft's embarrassing track record of dismal support for web-based standards to a long awaited close. These days, web developers no longer have to fill their website code with "IE Hacks" that allow for a webpage to display the way it supposed to for users of Internet Explorer 8.
With meaningful support for standards and a not-obviously in last place performance improvement, does that make Internet Explorer as good as Firefox? Does it make IE better than Firefox?
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Firefox Features Versus Internet Explorer Features
When Internet Explorer 7 was released, savvy computer users laughed at the way Microsoft tripped over itself to promote its "new" tabbed browsing interface. In fact, Firefox had a tabbed interface for years before IE7 came along. By the time IE8 rolled along, Firefox had racked up numerous other features that were either completely missing from IE 7 or only barely implemented. Chief among these was Firefox's support for extensions and add-ons.
As more users turn to the web for more reasons, it becomes more difficult to create a one-size fits all web browser that supports everything for everyone. Rather than trying to develop and implement every feature ever requested, Mozilla's Firefox allows users to customize the browser by way of add-ons and extensions. These additions to the browser ensure someone like a freelance writer who needs advanced web research features, for example, can have them accessible directly in their browser via various add-ons, while users who have no such need for such things are not burdened with additional menus, commands, or displays that are not relevant to their use.
Internet Explorer 8 offers extensions now as well. While there are nowhere near as many offered for IE as there are for Firefox, they have been around with Firefox for much longer. That means that users are more likely to find just what they are looking for with Firefox add-ons and extensions. Users who don't use many (or any) add-ons in Firefox may find those offered for IE to be sufficient.
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Why Firefox 3.6 Is Better Than Internet Explorer 8
One of the biggest holes in Internet Explorer 8 is that there is no built-in spell checking. This is truly bizarre considering the considerable knowledge of this area that Microsoft has thanks to years of developing it for Microsoft Word. Yet, IE 8 users are left with a sub-standard half-effort at spell check provided by the IE Spell add-on. For any user that does more than just read what is on the Internet this is a big deal.
What really makes Firefox 3.6 better than Internet Explorer 8 is not the list of what features each browser does or does not have, but rather how those features are implemented.
For example, both Firefox and IE will offer to save your passwords for websites that you visit. Enter your username and password and both browsers ask if you want to save them. However, Firefox continues to load the website you entered the password for. Not only is this faster and more efficient, it allows you to verify that you entered the right password by seeing a successful login. IE, on the other hand, waits for you to answer the question before continuing, meaning at best the loading of the site is being delayed and at worst, that you just said Yes to saving the wrong password!
Another foolish implementation is how Internet Explorer implements restoring your last browsing session. With Firefox, you can choose whether to start fresh each time or load back the same way you were when you stopped, either automatically or on demand. With IE, however, you cannot configure it to automatically save and restart your previous browser session. You can only restore your last session manually, but you better remember to do it right away, otherwise your "last" browser session might end up being your "before the last" browser session with no way to restore. Microsoft claims this is for security which is odd considering that Windows comes with usernames, passwords, and the ability to lock the computer console. Surely, user choice would be the better route?
Likewise, Internet Explorer offers no ability to search even your own local bookmarks or web history directly from the URL bar. Again, Microsoft cites security noting that some browsers (like Chrome) send your information off to search engine providers as you type it. However, Firefox again wins because it is configurable. Users can turn off this feature if they don't want it, while there is no way to turn it on in IE.