Get Firefox, but you still need Internet Explorer

I switched to Firefox a few months ago. Since then, I’ve not had a single case of browser hijacking that seemed to happen all the time with Internet Explorer.

Every time I ran Ad-Aware (and I do that once a week), it would inevitably find a registry key, helper object or some such that had grabbed my home page and redirected it usually to MSN (you could begin to think that Microsoft might be in league with these hijackers!). No more.

Neither have I had a single case of the rogue pop-up and pop-under ads that still plague IE even after the improved version that comes with Windows XP Service Pack 2.

When I switched from IE to MyIE2 over a year ago, and then to its successor, Maxthon, nothing changed. Except I got the ads in nice tabs rather than separate browser windows. Even though Maxthon has far superior pop-up/pop-under control, I’d still get them as Maxthon is effectively an IE shell. So no escaping many of those irritating things happening, especially browser hijacking.

None of that since I started using Firefox.

Yet I find that at times, I still need to use Internet Explorer. There are some websites that have some functionality that doesn’t seem to work well in Firefox. Some sites where you can do nothing unless you arrive with IE. And some sites where things don’t quite look right on screen. The worst culprits – some of Microsoft’s sites.

For instance, Windows Update. In Windows XP, If you click on Start > All Programs and click on the link at the top to go to the update site, it will by default launch IE. There’s probably a registry hack to change that but there’s no point – to use Windows Update, you have to access it with IE as all other browsers are blocked (if you go there with Firefox, you’ll get a page that includes text that says “You need to be running a version of Internet Explorer 5 or higher in order to use Windows Update”).

Then there’s Office Update. If you go there in Firefox, you get a line of text in red at the top of your screen that says “Warning: You are viewing this page with an unsupported Web browser. This Web site works best with Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.01 or later or Netscape Navigator 6.0 or later.” How many people would figure that Firefox fits into the Netscape category? Well, it does, but I always use IE to visit Office Update – just seems safer.

Even though Firefox is a far superior browser than the latest IE version, it’s not wholly immune from security issues requiring patches (such as the one at the beginning of October: see my post on that). Nevertheless, it’s nowhere nearly as bad as IE historically has been in this regard.

(To see a pretty good review of Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera and other browsers, and how they compare with each other, take a look at The Browser Wars on HTMLSource.)

But until all browsers behave the same – around 2010, I wouldn’t be surprised – the reality is that, on Windows at least, you will still need Internet Explorer whether you like it or not.

3 thoughts on “Get Firefox, but you still need Internet Explorer

  1. I switched to Firefox as well long time ago, and am very happy with it. Unfortunately, as you say IE is still a need sometimes with certain websites. I wanted to let you know of an extension called ieview ( in case you do not already know. What it does is that it adds a context menu in Firefox to let you view the same page in IE. Makes life easier at times.

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