When it comes to looking at Web pages, most people are accustomed to using the two most common browsers: Internet Explorer and Netscape. However, there are several Web browsers out there, and you should seriously consider your alternatives to make the most of your surfing experience.
Since there is a rash of browsers competing for space on your desktop, we’ve whittled the list down to three top contenders: Mozilla, Firefox, and Opera. All three, like Netscape, automatically import Internet Explorer bookmarks. All have tabbed browsing, pop-up controls, and can now save complete Web pages.
Netscape, of course, is a great alternative to Internet Explorer and is the standard against which we judge the other three browsers. Here’s how they stack up against Netscape.
Opera 7.54 If you miss the slick look and feel of Internet Explorer, consider going to the Opera. But you’ll pay for it, one way or another. The free download comes with ads you can circumvent by paying $39. If you choose not to pay, you’ll just get generic ads or ads relevant to what you’re browsing, as chosen by Google. Opera makes changing skins fun and has a browser, mail, chat, newsreader, and address book. If the idea is to get away from Internet Explorer because of security reasons, Opera is an improvement but you can do better.
Mozilla 1.72 One of the complaints users have about the security of commercial software is that the code is proprietary so only the bad guys break the law and reverse-engineer it. Netscape is in version 7.2, but the company opened the source code of what would have been version 5 to the open source community and The Mozilla Organization was born. The volunteers who coordinated this second browser suite examined and developed it piece by piece, independently, with individuals from all over.
You have to manually turn on the browser’s pop-up blocking feature, and when you save Web pages, you may have to type the correct titles. But it has all the features in our chart, plus a profile manager to store bookmarks, options, and browsing data for multiple people or locations.
Firefox 0.8 Mozilla’s little brother, Firefox, is popular among users who have a mailer program and just want a simple browser. Firefox has the same flaw as Mozilla when it comes to saving Web page titles and the same claim to fame as Mozilla with its profile manager. Firefox has 69 built-in “themes,” and you can fetch more from the same page as Mozilla’s warning. Firefox had friendlier theme instructions, but only some of the themes showed thumbnails, and only some of those actually installed.