While most users still browse the Internet with the copy of Internet Explorer that likely came pre-loaded on their computer, there's a new kid on the block that every user should seriously consider.

I just upgraded to the very latest version of Mozilla's FireFox (1.0.3) and as far as I'm concerned, the better browser just keeps getting better!

For anyone who hasn't heard of Mozilla.org and FireFox, this is an open-source web browser based on the Netscape code, but significantly enhanced. While free, the real attraction to the Mozilla project is that the software is an "open source" development. In essence, this means that the basic program code for this browser is open to all developers to view, test, tinker with and enhance. The benefits to the end-user, as opposed to privately developed and proprietary code, are many.

First and foremost, by seeking input from countless sources, the programming community as a whole can develop a more stable and secure program application.

As a practical matter, the software seems to be not only much more stable, but users can also expect fewer security flaws (but not zero) and bugs than the almost never ending stream of problems that are associated with Internet Explorer.

While the software functions very similarly to other browsers, there are two key differences that should make this your first choice for surfing the Web.

First, the program automatically blocks those un-requested and annoying "pop-up" windows. That feature alone makes Mozilla a must have.

Second is the ability to open new Web pages in a "tabbed" interface, as is common to most Windows-based programs. Rather than opening multiple copies of the browser itself (as would be required with Internet Explorer) you can instead open multiple Web pages within the single running copy of Mozilla itself.

Not only does this feature result in the consumption of far less memory and system resources, but it also makes switching from page to page a simple task of choosing from the easily viewed open "tabs" that are easily displayed along the top of the browser.

These two features are not the only differences, just the two most appealing. Mozilla also includes a host of comprehensive tools for the power user, including separate management tools for cookies, forms, passwords and file downloading.

Another plus for the FireFox browser are the endless custom add-on utilities (called extensions) that can be downloaded and installed for free which further "extend" the capabilities of the browser.

A few of my favorites, all available from: https://do-not-add.mozilla.org/extensions/

Following up on the last note, with FireFox now exceeding 50 million downloads, if you haven't "toured" your own Web site to ensure that it can be properly viewed with this popular program, the time is ripe to do so.

As most agents and brokers are not Web site developers, it's not uncommon for real estate sites to have limited functionality when viewed with anything other than Internet Explorer.

While there was a time that web developers could somewhat arrogantly claim they didn't need to consider other browsers in their development because "everyone uses IE" those days are gone.

If you're not convinced you need to follow up on your own site to verify multi-browser support, then simply consider what happens if a Mozilla "fan" (and most users are indeed fans) visits your site and at least one competitor's and it's only yours that they can't view properly.

While you're probably not in a position to make site coding changes yourself, there's no reason in today's competitive business environment that you can't tell your developer/host which parts of your site need to updated to support all major browsers currently in use.


Copyrighted with all rights reserved by Stephen M. Canale