Browser wars II…

I’m not one of these knee-jerk Microsoft haters. Oh, I pretty much loathe Microsoft. Don’t get me wrong. But I don’t hate them just because they’ve been successful and because they utterly dominate the personal computer world.

No, I hate Microsoft because they consistently produce inferior products. To my mind they’ve developed one killer application – one – in all the time they’ve been around, and that’s Excel. Excel rules. It’s robust, it’s stable and it performs as advertised. Always has. But everything else they’ve developed – Word, Outlook, Access, FrontPage, FoxPro, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Money and the thrice-cursed Windows operating system, in all of its flavors, just flat out stink.

I was a dyed in the wool WordPerfect user for years. WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS kicked ass. That was one productive little application. But when WordPerfect tried to port it to Windows is stank to high heaven. It was a trainwreck. Suddenly I found myself, at the behest of my employers, a Word user. I probably wasted about a 100 hours of company time showing everyone I could why Word sucked and how easy it was to crash the damned thing or make it eat your documents. Didn’t matter. The choice had been made. Standards had to be upheld.

Then Outlook crawled onto my desktop. Peeeeyoooo. What a stinker. Outlook was a pretty feeble calendaring address book tool. It was a lousy email application. Really lousy. Where I work now they use it as groupware and it causes far more problems than it solves. I’d swear that more Admin Assistants in my office have nearly come to blows due to Outlook than any other cause of workplace strife.

And then there’s Internet Explorer. Ugh. Double-ugh. First IE was bloatware – too much darned code, too many features and too danged slow to load or do much of anything. Then when Netscape shit the bed by becoming the ultimate in bloatware IE took over. And since Microsoft thinks integrating every application into the OS is a great and brilliant strategy on came the malicious hackers who exploited IE’s security vulnerabilities and wrecked the days of a lot of people; a whole lot of people.

For the past six months I’ve been using Firefox as my web browser both at work and at home. It was recommended to me by one of my more nerdy friends and I love it. It’s lean, it’s mean and it does the job. Best of all, as of right now it’s not subject to disasterous viral attacks.

I spent a few hours this weekend trying to find out why my girlfriend’s computer is behaving like it’s near death. Ultimately the answer is simple – IE + Windows XP + DSL account = malware festival. Now we’ll eventually get her machine to behave, but that may mean having to back up her data and wipe the hard drive. Considering that the combination I’ve outlined above is what huge numbers of home computer users have it just seems dreadful that Microsoft is either unable or unwilling to correct the flaws in their software architecture to protect their users. Unfortunately that does seem to be the case.

So, if you’ve got the choice available to you, dump IE (and by now everyone should be staying away from Outlook like the plague) and get Firefox. At the very least you’ll be sending a message to Microsoft that if they won’t give the people what they want, we’ll go elsewhere.

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