Time for an admission. After all my bleating on about Firefox, I’m running IE right now. There. I said it.
Now I’m running a tablet PC, I’ve hit a few things that Firefox just doesn’t do as well as IEâ€¦
Tablet PC Input
With IE, as with most other apps, when you put the cursor in a text box – the Address bar, or a search box, for example – the little floating tablet input panel appears so you can enter text. In Firefox, it doesn’t. Firefox has hidden the text entry boxes from Windows. Presumably it’s been done for a good reason, but the upshot is that to enter text, I had to click a button on the task bar, and a bar pops up taking up part of the top or bottom of the screen until I closed it again. Not a huge problem, but annoying when all the other apps I use behave as expected.
There’s a work around for this one – an extension that enables the input area again. Unfortunately, it seemed to work very intermittently, and after installing it, Firefox started crashing a lot.
Integration with OneNote
I’m using OneNote for a lot of things now. I’m typing this into it right now, with a mind map at the top of the page for planning. If you copy and paste text from IE to OneNote, the URL it came from is tacked on to the top automatically. That doesn’t happen with Firefox. Also, there’s a powertoy to add a button to IE to send the current page to OneNote with one click – again, no equivalent for Firefox.
Use on GPRS Connection
I now use my browser fairly often over a GPRS connection. Since I’m not on an unlimited package, it’s important for me to limit the amount of data transferred – it costs money. Firefox tends to refresh pages more than I want it to, and whenever it refreshes a page, it refreshes the images on it too – that can get expensive. Using the hidden about:config page, there’s a setting to tell it not to refresh, but that breaks Bloglines. IE can be told to never refresh pages without breaking Bloglines, and it doesn’t go refetching images that it’s already got cached.
I did try Opera, and liked it a lot. It handles downloads much better than either IE or Firefox, resuming broken downloads easily after a dropped connection (useful for luddites like me on dial up connections 😉 ). It seemed to cope well with lots of tabs open, and never slowed down or locked up even for a moment. The tablet input didn’t work, though, and outputting to OneNote was even worse than Firefox – links in pasted text didn’t work at all.
My favourite feature in Opera was a button to turn off fetching images, so it will only display images that it has already cached. Fetching an image that you want to see is just a right click, ‘refresh image’ away, similar to IE with image display turned off.
I’d rather be using Firefox. I like Firefox, and I still think it’s the best browser for most people using a standard Windows PC. Since SP2 for Windows XP patched up the security a bit and added the popup blocker, though, IE isn’t at all bad, and at the moment, for me, it just nudges it into the lead. I miss Adblock – I’d got used to seeing the web with hardly any ads. Surprisingly, I don’t actually miss tabbed browsing as much as I thought I would. Just see the task bar as the tabs, and you do fine. Not as good as real tabs in the browser, but it does the job.