The Big Deal About Firefox

firefoxA lot of smart guys I know tell me that I should be browsing the net with Firefox, instead of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. I attribute some of this to a counterculture, anti-Microsoft philosophy, but enough people whose opinions I respect have sung the praises of Firefox that I decided to give it a try.

Warning: I’m fixing to aggravate a lot of other geeks.

So I went to the Firefox download page and installed it. The program installed easily. The first time I opened it, Firefox offered to import a lot of my settings from Internet Explorer. The settings were quickly imported (other than, curiously, my Home Page setting). So far, so good.

I decided to surf around with Firefox a little to see how it works, and to make sure the Newsome.Org pages display correctly in Firefox (they do). All was well, and I admit that I really like the tabbed browsing feature.

Then a problem. I went to The Home Place, which has a flash-based Flickr badge. A helpful message at the top of the Firefox window informed me that “Additional plugins are needed to display all of the media on this page.” To the right was a promising button inviting me to “Install Missing Plugins.” So I clicked it. A box popped up telling me that a Flash Player 7.0 plugin was available- just what I needed. I selected it and clicked the Next button. A license screen popped up and I agreed to the user license and clicked the Next button again. Nothing. Nada. Only this, for a long, long time:


I tried many times. I rebooted and tried many more times. I tried a manual install. I googled the problem and found quite a few links. This one looked promising, but didn’t work for me.

Could I get this plugin installed? Almost certainly. I am a geek, myself. But a whole lot of potential users don’t have the time, inclination and ability to do so (all 3 are required). So I run straight back to my soapbox and once again shout my mantra: if you want people to adopt something that is (supposedly) only incrimentally better that something they already have, make it easy. Make it painless. Otherwise, you have something created by geeks only for geeks. As I said, I’m a geek, so I’ll use it (along with Internet Explorer, but not as my default browser). But I’ll never get my wife, family or friends to do it.

We’re all better off with 2 significant options (think what satellite TV has done for cable users). I want Firefox to put some competitive pressure on Microsoft. In order to do that, it has to become the browser of choice for geeks and non-geeks alike.

Bottom Line: The basic software (as opposed to the plugins) was easy to install. It didn’t seem any faster than Internet Explorer. I like the tabbed browsing, and I’m sure (because I’ve read it so many times) that it’s more secure. Otherwise, it seems a lot like Internet Explorer, only without the Flickr badges.

Bonus thought: If I liked it better, would they use my song by a similar name in a commercial?

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