At first I thought it was an Onion-type parody. But it’s not.
A bit off-topic, but not really: As i posted earlier, I changed to Firefox (yes, I still plan to try opera, though the idea of ads on the screen bugs me) and want to uninstall IE altogether — but I can’t. I find that when i go to certain sites, like my Asian bank where i still have a bit of $$, I cannot enter my user name and PIN with Firefox. When I switch to Explorer, it works fine.
This is extremely frustrating and it tells me that try as we might to wean ourselves off of Microsoft, it is still a Bill Gates world and we have no choice but to acquiece. This is exactly why monopolies are so scary — they leave us with no choice.
It’s especially upsetting when the one choice we are left with sucks. (Fascinating, that in the long discussion about browsers a few days ago, not a single person defended MS IE; everyone seems to hate it, and yet we are forced to use it, at least sometimes.)
UPDATE: Slate on Firefox:
You’ve probably been told to dump Internet Explorer for a Mozilla browser before, by the same propeller-head geek who wants you to delete Windows from your hard drive and install Linux. You’ve ignored him, and good for you. Microsoft wiped out Netscape in the Browser Wars of the late 1990s not only because the company’s management pushed the bounds of business ethics, but also because its engineers built a better browser. When Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale approved the Mozilla project—an open-source browser based on Netscape’s code—in 1998, it seemed like a futile act of desperation.
But six years later, the surviving members of the Mozilla insurgency are staging a comeback. The latest version of Firefox, released this Monday, has a more professional look, online help, and a tool that automatically imports your bookmarks, history, site passwords, and other settings from Explorer. Meanwhile, all-conquering Internet Explorer has been stuck in the mud for the past year, as Microsoft stopped delivering new versions. The company now rolls out only an occasional fix as part of its Windows updates. Gates and company won the browser war, so why keep fighting it?
The problem is that hackers continue to find and exploit security holes in Explorer. Many of them take advantage of Explorer’s ActiveX system, which lets Web sites download and install software onto visitors’ computers, sometimes without users’ knowledge. ActiveX was meant to make it easy to add the latest interactive multimedia and other features to sites, but instead it’s become a tool for sneaking spyware onto unsuspecting PCs. That’s why the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, a partnership between the tech industry and Homeland Security, recently took the unusual step of advising people to consider switching browsers. Whether or not you do, US-CERT advises increasing your Internet Explorer security settings, per Microsoft’s instructions. (Alas, the higher setting disables parts of Slate’s interface.) Even if you stop using Explorer, other programs on your computer may still automatically launch it to connect to sites.
Firefox eschews ActiveX and other well-known infection paths. You can configure it to automatically download most files when you click on them, but not .exe files, which are runnable programs. I thought this was a bug before I realized Firefox was saving me from myself, since .exe files could be viruses or stealth installers.
There is much, much more to this article. If you’re still wondering about why you should make the switch, it’s pretty convincing.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.