In one corner we have Internet Explorer 7. After 18 months of development and a shiny new set of tabs, he's in top shape and looking better than his predecessor ever did. That is, before he entered the ring with Firefox 2.0. Now he's just a cripple with fancy RSS reading.
This battle wasn't pretty. Lifehacker's own Gina Trapani points out that, "Ironically, Fx runs on more versions of Windows than IE 7 does." And it was all downhill from there. While IE 7 was away training in the Himalayas for a year and a half, living off walnuts and squirrel meat, Firefox was poking his wife, being a fill-in-dad for his kids, wearing his favorite tighty whities and learning all his secrets.
Check out our graphs, but equip yourselves with those special solar eclipse glasses first. Then hit the jump for our Frankenfight—where whomever yells the loudest wins. It's sort of the new policy.
OK, fuck this unbiased attitude. Firefox 2 just froze on me while typing this. It can burn in hell.
Wait, it just restored all my windows.
"Unlike IE 7, which has reorganized its toolbar, Firefox 2 changes only the look and feel of its buttons."
"The new shiny-glass look [firefox] is much more sophisticated, as are the rounded tabs and the hairline borders around the address bar and the search engine box."
"IE 7's new streamlined look resembles Vista's."
"You can't miss the new user interface, with tabbed browsing, integrated searching, and newsfeed support..."
"The overall interface of IE has also been cleaned up and simplified..."
"The tabs don't get their own row, however, so they can start to appear somewhat squished if you have many open at once."
- No victory in the Hot or Not competition.
"Perhaps the biggest change within IE 7, aside from the overall interface redesign, is tabbed browsing."
"The tabs, which can be reordered, can also be previewed on a page with clickable thumbnail displays of each open tab."
"Microsoft's implementation is OK, but is curiously inconsistent."
"The page preview available within IE 7, called Quick Tabs, requires an extra mouse click, which is an annoyance for the ergonomically minded."
"...lets you view, on one page, thumbnails of all the pages you have open in tabs."
"It's very nice, but reminiscent of an Apple feature called Expos ."
"...while Mozilla is touting a revamped tabs interface, it doesn't seem much improved to me."
"New in Firefox 2 is session restore; if Windows crashes and you have several tabs open in Firefox at the time, you can now relaunch Firefox with all the tabs intact..."
"Firefox 2's tab updates are generally a step ahead of IE's. For example, you can configure Firefox to always save your last session for future use; with IE 7 you have to click a box every time."
- Sorry guys, tabs are tabs.
"RSS isn't treated lightly within IE7; in fact, Microsoft built an entire RSS reader and bundled it in with the browser."
"However, you have no way to quickly preview the feed's contents without opening the feed's rendered page in IE, which somewhat defeats the purpose."
"Firefox 2 makes the raw [RSS] feed understandable, and offers a range of new subscription options."
"Possibly the coolest new feature is Live Titles, formerly Microsummaries, which allows Web sites to stream updated data to your bookmarks."
"Think of Live Titles as RSS-like feeds for your otherwise static bookmarks."
"Web sites must be specifically enabled for this feature for Firefox 2.0, so it's not widely useful yet."
- Still a good idea.
"Unfortunately extensions designed for Firefox 1.5 will probably break within Firefox 2."
"About 80% of the extensions I use are supported."
"In my Firefox setup, Firefox 2.0 obviated the need for five extensions and another two customizations that I apply to all Firefox 1.x installations."
"Another area where IE7 has serious shortcomings is with add-ons that give extra features to the browser."
"...most of the add-ons you'll find aren't free."
"You can enable, disable, and delete add-ons in IE's manager, but it's not very user-friendly..."
"...many of these so-called add-ons are not designed to work directly inside IE and integrate with the browser..."
- Microsoft will never let people develop for IE as freely as they can Firefox.
"Security enhancements within Firefox 2 continue. New is a dialog box informing you of cross-domain scripting, a tactic used by criminal hackers to link nonrelated sites to sites you think may be legit."
"Firefox's default protection stops at comparing sites against a known blacklist of phishing sites, while IE 7 includes site analysis that will try to warn you about a suspicious site even if it's not yet on a blacklist."
"...we found that IE 7 consistently failed to catch phishing sites less than 1 hour old, although IE 7 caught all phishing sites known for at least 1 hour or more..."
"You also get a new "Fix Settings for Me" feature that warns you if you reset security settings to something Microsoft deems unsafe."
"Overall, the new IE has many more security fixes than the revised Firefox. But such fixes were necessary to address IE 6's many holes..."
"With IE7, the default security level has been raised from medium, which is the IE6 default, to medium-high. Not only that, but there are now no lower security levels than medium..."
"But the most important new security feature in IE 7 — something called Protected Mode, which stops Web sites from changing your computer's important files or settings — will work only in the new Vista version of Windows."
"IE 7 still uses essentially the IE 4 Web engine. So in terms of page performance, Mozilla Firefox, which updated its Web engine with Firefox 1.5, remains the much faster browser."
"In my informal tests immediately after installing and launching IE 7, the browser with three open tabs used 80MB of memory; under similar conditions and with the same three tabs, Firefox used 58MB. Otherwise, the performance of the two browsers appeared similar."
"Firefox 2 also gives you the ability to correct your spelling mistakes online, just like using a word processor."
"Once you have access to inline spell-checking, you won't want to surf the Web without it."
"Speaking of accessibility features, IE 7 includes zoom technology and the new Clear-type page technology, which Microsoft claims renders page fonts as sharp and clear as those printed on a piece of paper."
"Even if you zoom to the maximum level, 400 percent, we found that the Clear-text technology within IE 7 remains quite clear with fonts."
- Zoom feature is a nice innovation from Microsoft.
"The new Internet Explorer is a solid upgrade, but it's disappointing that after five years, the best Microsoft could do was to mostly catch up to smaller competitors."
"Of the two rivals, Firefox remains the better application."
- I plan on running Firefox 2, but I own a Mac.