eWeek Predicts Mozilla will Challenge Internet Explorer

Monday July 28th, 2003

In his latest opinion piece for eWeek, Jim Rapoza tackles a favourite topic of tech columnists recently: are the Browser Wars coming back? Rapoza thinks that they are and says Microsoft's recent decision to only provide enhancements to Internet Explorer via Windows upgrades could leave an opening for alternative browsers. Mozilla, Rapoza argues, is well-placed to take advantage of this opportunity with its up-to-date and innovative technology.

#45 Re: Mozilla mops the floor with IE on features

by jgraham

Wednesday July 30th, 2003 12:45 AM

You are replying to this message

"You can do all of this with IE? <<>> Funny, I looked around and couldn't find a website where I could download 100 extensions to make IE better than it currently is. "

Extensions for IE exist. In fact, at least one major British newspaper recently suggested that the ability of third parties to develop IE extensions is a major advantage that it holds over altervative browsers.

"But leaving aside extensibility (which I happen to think is a killer feature) you can open multiple tabs in IE?"

With an appropriate add on, yes. You can also do it with almost every other browser on the planet.

"You can bookmark groups of pages in IE? You can block pop-ups in IE?"

Again, addons exist to do those things. The googlebar, for example now contains a popup blocker. People can even change for those addons.

"You can disable statusbar text or window moving/resizing? You can zoom text specified in pixels in IE? You can block images in IE? You can easily search selected text in IE? You can select from any of hundreds of search engines within the IE search capability? Type ahead find works in IE?"

I have no idea. I don't like IE. But, those are all things that other browsers also do (the original comment was not restricted to IE). So, if the Mozilla "Killer Features" are things that other browsers also do, then we have a problem.

"If it was better in every conceivable way, though, it is still at a distinct distribution disadvantage in that everyone already has IE installed on the machine they purchased and IE is _minimally_ sufficient for most people."

The distribution thing is a real problem. I hope that the Mozilla Foundation are prepared to put a lot of effort into helping that situation - if we can get ISPs, computer magazines and so on distributing Mozilla, then there is at least a chance that people will try it. One necessary (but not sufficient) condition for that to happen is the client customisation kit being reborn. But it's perhaps not the biggest problem - distribution issues certinly aren't preventing businesses adopting Mozilla. The biggest problem that I see currently is that ~ 100% of websites work in IE, whereas a much smaller percentage (say 99%) work in mozilla. There are few people who care to use a browser where one in 100 sites either won't work, or will have serious display problems. Tech-Evangelism are doing a great job, but they have to fight a lot of apathy, most of which comes from major companies. It's hard to know what else to do. mpt at least had a suggestion (put a validator in the status bar) - even if you still ridicule him for it. That might not work particually well, but it at least addresses the major issue that faces all alternative browser makers and means that when sites do fail, they don't do so sliently.

Therefore, if we're talking killer features, the killer feature that IE has above all other browsers is that it can browse the existing web with very few problems. Add to that the fact that applications that embed IE exist that replicate many Mozilla features such as tabbed browsing, and you see the state of our current problem.