Ask soloists which web browser they use and most of them will answer “Whatever’s preloaded onto my PC.” Typically, this is either Internet Explorer (IE) for Windows users or Safari for those with Macs.

Knowledge of alternative browsers was thin on the ground until late 2004, when Mozilla Firefox muscled its way onto the scene. Soon it was obvious this new player was a breath of fresh air for users…and a chill wind for its competitors.

Mozilla Firefox is ‘open source’ which basically means it’s been developed by users, for users. Its slogan is ‘taking back the web’ and with 64 million downloads since its launch in November 2004, it seems to be doing just that.

Curious as to what all the fuss was about, I made the free download a week ago. I can honestly say after about a day of surfing, I was completely won over. As at the start of every romance, I’m discovering new reasons to love Mozilla Firefox every day.

So what’s so great about Mozilla Firefox? Let me count the ways.

1. Tabbed browsing

This enables you to have multiple URLs open in the same browser. You navigate by ‘tabbing’ from one screen to another. Once you use this you realise how annoying managing multiple windows in other browsers is.

2. Bookmark Toolbar

Particularly handy for fans of bookmarking, this toolbar allows you to display your ‘favourites’ horizontally under the title bar. This means you can keep bookmarks on display without having to sacrifice a fifth (or so) of your browser window. While Safari users will be familiar with this tool, it’s not available in Internet Explorer.

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3. Integrated search bar

This lives in the top right of the browser and while it’s defaulted to Google, you can also search other popular sites by choosing from a drop down list which you can customise. My list includes IMDB, eBay, and Amazon.

4. Security

Mozilla Firefox is more secure than its competitors and ensures no Spyware headaches. Smarter than the average browser, it alerts you every time you head into a secure environment (i.e. one requiring usernames and passwords) by turning the title bar’s background yellow.

5. Live bookmarks or RSS (Really Simple Syndication)

I’d heard a lot about RSS but, ironically, didn’t understand it. Thanks to Mozilla Firefox, I now get what it’s about. Basically it’s a way of viewing fresh content from your favourite website without having to navigate through its homepage. When Mozilla Firefox detects a site with RSS an orange logo appears in the URL bar. Have a play and soon you’ll understand RSS too.

6. Find

Ctrl F for what must be the world’s most intuitive ‘search within a page’ facility.

Having blown sunshine at Mozilla Firefox it’s necessary to highlight the one downside - some sites won’t load because they have been designed with just Internet Explorer in mind. However, with millions now choosing Mozilla Firefox for their default browser, site owners will have no choice but to address this disparity.

I wholeheartedly agree with Forbes magazine’s assessment that “Firefox is better than Explorer by leaps and bounds. I don't miss Explorer one iota. Give Firefox a day's worth of Web surfing, and you won't either.”

So take my advice and download today!

“ Ask soloists which web browser they use and most of them will answer 'Whatever’s preloaded onto my PC.' ”
Sam Leader

Sam Leader is a director of Flying Solo and the co-author of Flying Solo - How to go it alone in business.

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