Firefox, why haven’t you switched yet?

I was just checking out the stats from November 2007 on the main site. We had just under 1,000,000 unique visitors to our site during that period. That is about our average lately so even though that is an impressive number what was far more interesting to me was the percentage of Mozilla Firefox users.

44.5% of the 1,000,000 unique visitors we had in November used Firefox!! That is amazing! In Europe Firefox usage is skyrocketing with many countries usage over 50%. Firefox usage in the US is less than in Europe, but is still noteworthy as it approaches the 20-25% mark.
Firefox is often associated with users “in the know”. Rarely do I find someone that I respect technically that uses Internet Explorer or Safari. While both of these browsers have improved they still have serious problems. Internet Explorer 7 is a security mess (STILL!!), and Safari simply doesn’t have the feature set to compete seriously with Firefox.

If you aren’t yet using Firefox you really ought to give it a try. The two main reasons that I personally use Firefox are because of its extensibility and its security. The “add ons” or Firefox extensions are GREAT! They allow you to install custom programs that will let you create a browser that is custom for you with just the features that you need. This one feature – the ability to use add ons is in my opinion the primary reason for Firefox’s success. Other browsers have similar functionality but fall short of how well Firefox implements this. My second reason is Firefox’s security record. They aren’t without security problems, but the difference is that they don’t try and hide their problems. They are very transparent and are quick to patch. The same can’t be said for IE which is a security nightmare.

Give Firefox a Try!!! DOWNLOAD FIREFOX

Thanks, Matt Heaton

42 Responses to “Firefox, why haven’t you switched yet?”

  1. Travis says:

    Amen brother. I just don’t get it. I’ve noticed that everyone that still uses IE doesn’t even know about Firefox and typically is not a “computer person”. Nonetheless, I don’t think Firefox is a techy version of a web browser by nature, but certainly CAN be with the use of extensions. That’s really the beauty of it…

  2. Tom says:

    The reality is that many people (including myself) are in a Corporate Environment where we are heavily invested in Microsoft Software. That being the case, there is a lot of software that only works with IE or that works much better in IE. One of the main ones is Outlook Web Access for accessing Exchange mailboxes via the web. It is almost unusable through Firefox and yet in IE, it is almost like using the full Outlook client.

    I am using Firefox right now, but I find myself having to jump over to IE on a regular basis. The frustration of jumping back and forth has caused me to switch back to IE several times.

    It isn’t just Microsoft Apps either. Web Software vendors many times write for IE first and then Firefox leaving apps that don’t work at all or as well in Firefox.

  3. Free Me says:

    While I do use Firefox almost primarily, one of the reasons many of us don’t switch over is that incessant need to make sure everything works well in IE, because that’s the browser in which our web pages are viewed most. Thankfully, that’s changing.

    There are two serious drawbacks to Firefox: its inability to deal with the inline-box display element; its ham-handed memory management. I run a Mac and the ONLY application that ever crashes on my machine is Firefox, which it does about every two days. When I ran Linux, same thing. When I was doing Windows-centric Web development, requiring me to run XP or Server 2003, same thing. At least it’s consistent on every platform 😀

    Aside from that, it seems Firefox requires updating on an almost continual basis. I love Firefox, don’t get me wrong, but I really wish the development team would sit back, take a deep breath, and tackle the memory issues. I’m convinced this is something that keeps less tech-savvy people from jumping on the Firefox bandwagon. Most of us know how truly frightening IE can be behind the scenes (your comment about security), but to the everyday Joe or Jane, a crashing program is a pesky reality, whereas security is a nebulous thing they worry about, without knowing what to do.

    All that said, go Firefox. (Though, to be honest, when I’m on the Mac and Firefox can’t deal with a page, Safari usually does the trick).

  4. Andy says:

    In Europe Microsoft doesn’t promote IE like it does in USA, so I think this is the main reason of IE popularity in USA. And there are some other reasons too: on my sites related to internet/computers and so on more than 50% of auditory are FF users, while on entertainment-related progects they are only 30%. May be FF is still a brouser for those who “in the know”.

  5. Jordy says:

    I’m really happy about the high percentages of Firefox users that visit my site. To me it’s like a smart people vote of approval.

    On a side note, one of my favorite plugins for WordPress is called GetFirefox. It puts a small clickable blurb in IE users’ information bar. Mine says, “You are using an inferior browser. Download Firefox today so your internet will suck no more forever.”

  6. Shimon says:

    I am using Opera :)

  7. Sean says:

    I switched to FireFox a few months after installing IE7. After using IE exclusively for years, the latter browser crashed repeatedly on me throughout each and every day. FireFox has been amazing. It’s powerful, extensible, fast (!), and stable (!!). I’m not smart enough to tell how much more secure it is — I’ll take your word for it — but those things are more than enough to make me ecstatic. Especially the stable part. Who writes buggy code any more?? Oh, right, Microsoft. That’s so 1990s.

  8. David says:

    Firefox is a little bloated and leaks memory. Safari on a mac may have minor compatibility issues (none that I have personally come across, but the acknowledgement is there) but it is slick and gives an integrated OS experience. Firefox is hands down the best alternative for IE users. Calling it the best is however a little short sighted. Opera claims to be more efficient and I think it has better overall design. Anyways, the moral of the story is that IE is hands down the worst browser for windows and Firefox is a WONDERFUL alternative. And if you benefit from the power of some of the innumerable firefox plugins, you really can’t find anything comparable anywhere else.

  9. It took me some time to warm up to Firefox. Mind you, it took them a while to make the browser worth using.

    Now, I much prefer it. I’ve yet to take advantage of the add-ons feature though…

  10. arum says:

    I use Firefox for web development, but as a general browser I still prefer Safari. It has everything I need for general browsing so I don’t see the need to change.

    but as you said, the plugin architecture on FF is second to none and can add some very useful features.

    That doesn’t mean everyone needs those features though, or that everyone should switch to FF. Competition is a healthy thing here, and the notion that someone who doesn’t use FF is not worthy of respect for the technical abilities is quite frankly arrogant and ignorant. Ok, not exactly what you meant perhaps, but you give that impression with this post.

    Not that you don’t have the right to say what you want, of course!

    Still doing a bloody good job with BH bye the way. Any chance you will be able to register and transfer domains soon? Godaddy can do it – they have mine currently, and I hate them and their site with a passion!

  11. arum says:

    please excuse my spelling mistakes in my last comments, it’s late over here!

  12. Keith Myers says:

    I agree, IE is just too much of a security risk. Unfortunately there are several sites that are not compatable with Firefox (Microsoft .net Framework Based) I hope Firefox gains this compatability soon

  13. David Mackey says:

    The reasons for adopting Firefox to the average consumer have decreased significantly with the release of IE7. Though, if Mozilla manages to push out Firefox 3 before the IE team tells us anything more about IE 8, this may change yet again. The IE team is starting to be remiscient of the IE6 days when the browser was never changed…

  14. Dennis says:

    I like Firefox but it lacks one trick that IE does that I use a lot and its absence is a real pain. When I’m on a web site I like, in IE and I can go to File>Send>To Desktop and drop a link to the site out on my desktop. I blog a lot about stuff I find on the web and this is a real time-saver. If anyone reading this knows how to get Firefox to do this trick, let us all know. And drop me an E-mail at dennis at samadhisoft dot com in case I don’t return here and follow this thread. Thx.

  15. sj says:

    i LOATHE IE, but i also can’t stand the look/design of firefox. yeah, i know you can skin it, but the skins don’t quite cover up the mess.

  16. GOD says:

    “Rarely do I find someone that I respect technically that uses Internet Explorer or Safari.”

    Rarely do I find actual in site into those that make these narrow minded statements. I’ve seen issues with both IE and Firefox, and each has their positive and negative aspects.

  17. Steve says:

    Stats for my site appear to show that as people are deciding to upgrade from IE6 that only about half of them are upgrading to IE7, the other half are switching to Firefox. I guess there are a lot of people who are becoming aware that IE6 isn’t the only way to access the web and look at the alternatives before deciding what to upgrade to. It’s a pity the other half are choosing IE7 rather than Opera. Interestingly, Microsoft have just officially announced that their next browser will be called IE8.

  18. Alex says:

    Firefox has an add-on called “IE-Tab”. With this add-on, you can switch manually or automatically from firefox to IE, without ever having to close firefox and open IE.

    You can set certain website to automatically open IE from firefox. I use it a lot with the sites that require IE. I open firefox and it does the rest.

  19. German says:

    I switched, but a day later I started to get some error message everytime I opened up a browser window.. I didn’t know how to fix it so I unistalled it.

  20. Dave says:

    I have used Firefox for as long as it has been around. With the release of 2.0 it crushed every other browser out there. Macs are crippled on the internet without it. Not that I am a Mac user but do have extensive experience using Macs. I usually have to shower after. (kidding…sorta)

    For those of you who think you need to use IE for compatibility issues your wrong. Using the extensive database of extensions available there is nothing that con not be accomplished with Firefox.

    Matt don’t you love being called short sighted, I mean… you built BlueHost! Maybe some of your naysayers might be short sighted, I’m just sayin.

    I await your IPO announcement.

  21. I’ll tell yeah, I’ve used Firefox for well over a year now and I couldn’t dream of switching. But like someone else has mentioned already, the memory leaks need to be addressed. If I leave my Firefox open for days on end, I’ve seen it using 120MB of memory which is horrendous.

    In the end, I CANNOT switch. I love all of the plugins that make my life easier.

    Now when I go to someone else’s computer, I feel alienated when they don’t have firefox installed. Thank God for my USB stick!

  22. Ronald says:

    If you’d posted this a year ago I would have been your first supporter.

    After using Firefox or Opera for the last 4 years for the same reasons as you suggest, I’ve grudgingly switched to mostly using IE7 in the last few weeks. Both Opera and Firefox seem to have become increasingly unstable and prone to crashing over the years, whereas IE has been consistently improving. I don’t remember IE7 under Vista crashing for me once.

    Firefox doesn’t handle page zooming well at all and often overlaps sections by increasing the font without scaling the page – with the unreadably small fonts that are used all over the internet, it gives me a headache straining to read tiny webpages on Firefox all day.

  23. James says:

    I have to disagree with them on Safari. I absolutely love Firefox for Windows, but the Firefox team just has not spent the same amount of time developing for the mac platform. I have gotten to where I only use Safari. Especially with version 3, it is so much faster than Firefox and fits in with the native look of the mac platform also. Extension are the only thing it lacks. But I can do without for the speed and better interface. Plus, there are still spots every now and then that firefox does not handle CSS correctly when Safari and IE do.

  24. Rick says:

    I’m a big Opera advocate. I’ve tried Firefox a number of times since it’s launch but keep going back to Opera.

    My major gripe is that to get all of the functionality I take for granted with Opera requires me to install a significant (>20) Firefox plugins. I know the Mozilla project is all about simplicity but vanilla Firefox is too basic for all but the most casual of use.

  25. Brian says:

    I second what Alex said. get the IETab plugin for FF, then you can use IE inside of FF for those sites that require IE.

  26. Wes says:

    I think you are right – its the add-ons that make Firefox great. Some of the extensions are really good tools that help a lot in web development but there is a variety of them and I cannot get the same in any other browser and hence thats the reason I mostly use Firefox.

    The other reason I use Firefox is that it is a standards compliant browser and therefore helps me a lot in testing esp. when I come to do the CSS stuff.

    On stats, I have seen it as well. On my tech site the majority of users use Firefox but on my other sites IE is still prominent.

  27. Hypotheek says:

    If i check my own stats in the netherlands, 90% is IE. Myself is using FFX, because its fast, low on the resources and the addons are great for development! So i would say, please change all! 😛

  28. Technocrat says:

    Have to agree with everything you say. Literally everyone I speak to says how slow they find the ‘new’ IE7 alongside Firefox.

    Other feedback I have received is that users find Firefox to be ‘more honest’ and open in the way apps and plugins can be loaded and manipulated.

  29. Emmanuel says:

    I’m the owner of a european online storage and sharing website (B2C oriented). We have ~500.000 unique visitors / month actually. The site works perfectly under IE6/7, yet 79% of our users use firefox (awstats). Long life to firefox !

  30. godDLL says:

    Safari 3 has shaken the Firefox off of me. There is nothing more usable than a native Mac application, coming from Apple too.
    If your platform is Windows/Linux though, don’t hesitate to get Firefox. You might not find anything better for years to come. And Firefox 3 in latest Alphas seems stable enough for daily usage.

  31. eejit says:

    Firefox has taken us back to the dark ages of quality.websites withInternet explorer are like a perfect photograph compared to firefox, which looks like a kids toy, it destroys most attractive and modern built sites, go and make a beautiful page with page wizard at bluehost and then look at it in firefox compared to internet explorer.Basiclaly speed has replaced the last 10 years of quality advancement. the fact that google tried to get credit and be up there with mozilla to release such an inferior and excrementary piece of 15 years ago crap should be obvious to anyone with a hamsters intelligence. No one has come close to internet explorer yet, wake up you stupid coffee heads!

  32. Radish says:

    I find IE7 to be superior to Firefox. FF had the advantage over IE6 but I switched from FF to IE7. I found it to be faster, both at start up and in rendering. I like the interface better too – I find FF to be a bit clunky. I’ve never had any security issues with IE7, though I do have a hardware firewall, up-to-date AV (NOD32), and have Windows Defender scan the system regularly (and nightly back-ups to RAID 1, just in case).

    “Rarely do I find someone that I respect technically that uses Internet Explorer or Safari.” I guess you need to get out more. Fortunately (for you), when looking for a new hosting company I don’t take into consideration the occasional ignorant statement by the CEO on his personal blog. I guess I’m secure enough in my technical abilities…

  33. Paolo says:

    Am I the only guy here that thinks that safari 3 literally EAT memory?

  34. saim says:

    I agree, Firefox is the best browser I’ve ever used. I simply love it.

  35. Microsoft doesn’t promote IE like it does in USA, and Firefox in opposit is promoted via Google very well in EU. That’s the main reason of IE popularity in USA. Plus Europian people less believe in advertisments and more in what there friends them told…

  36. I like firefox. The e-mail application is much better too! When you receive lot of e-mail which you have to archive (like I do), Thunderbird is much faster and without any complications.

  37. Firefox brought us to another dimension of sending and receiving emails. I like the software very much. When having a problem in the pas with importing contacts, the helpdesk helped me very good as well. regards, Bram

  38. Hypotheek says:

    I agree, we using firefox!
    Good article!

  39. hypotheek says:

    Firefox is more stabile the storage of e-mails and you can handle more MB atachement than Outlook. thx Bram

  40. Twente says:

    At first I wasn’t so sure about FF. I have installed FF after reading this article (more than 6 month ago!), and I do agree with your statement about some feature of FF, e.g. the add ons functionality
    [This one feature – the ability to use add ons is in my opinion the primary reason for Firefox’s success. ]
    Thanks, Chris

  41. Geld lenen says:

    I like firefox more than IE. It is slower, but really more simple and with more power. In holland does firefox not have many users. regards, J

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