So, as the world knows, IE 7.0 Beta 2 came out yesterday. I'm downloading it as I type this, but I'm not committed to loading it. After it's initial release, the browser, while more secure, has had some problems which concerned me.
Amusingly, lots of the Microsoft folks are touting the new IE Add-ons page. I just took a look at it. The page is designed to make the user feel as if this were Microsoft's method of competing with Mozilla's Extension capabilities. Looking at the pages a little deeper than the home page, it became apparent that what Microsoft had done is struck a deal with CNET's Download page. Basically, when one looks at the products, one sees a search of all of CNET's Download.com page results for IE. That's nice and all, but 3 things:
- Many of these products are not IE exclusive (Download Managers, for instance)
- Many of the products are pretty large downloads
- Many of the products actually cost money
Firefox's extensions are usually pretty small (often just a couple of hundred kilobytes). In a broadband world this isn't really an issue for many of us. However, it just goes to demonstrate that what IE is promoting are not extensions, but full on products.
Firefox's extensions, to this date, do not cost money. True, many of the add-ons listed do not cost money either, but many more do. Why? Well, obviously, developers want to earn money for their time and effort and I don't hold that against them. Heck, I paid money for Internet Download Manager long ago. However, it flies in the face of open source development that Mozilla was founded on and that Microsoft fights on a variety of fronts (though, in a small number of cases has embraced).
My point? Despite their best marketing efforts, we still have a fundamental difference to the approach of the browser market. Through it's sharing of source code and it's extensibility Mozilla offers an open source approach that has to date brought a more secure browsing experience with added features and excited a community of developers around it. Microsoft is improving it's browser and most likely is playing catch up rather quickly. But it's development is focused on limiting customer interaction in the name of security (kind of like the U.S. government these days). In the end, I expect Mozilla's approach (if not their browser) to rule the day.
Meanwhile, I might have a go around with IE 7.0 and if so, will report back on my findings. Firefox will remain my browser of choice.