The most recent reports of security holes in Microsoft Internet Explorer spurred the Homeland Security Department's Computer Emergency Readiness Team to advise users to employ another browser altogether, at least until Microsoft Corp. fixed the latest vulnerability. But now that the browser wars have subsided, what other options are still standing?
A strong contender is Mozilla, the open-source offspring of the Netscape Navigator browser. I've been using Mozilla at work for the past year. It offers all the stability and agility of Internet Explorer with a few unique features.
The browser is not offered by a commercial company. Rather, Mozilla is a volunteer project by the Mozilla Foundation of Mountain View, Calif., to refine the source code of the Netscape Communicator suite, which Netscape Communications Corp. released to the public in 1998.
The moonlighting coders have done well streamlining this app'the latest version of Mozilla, 1.7, sheds the sluggishness and excessive bugginess that previously plagued the Netscape browser.
Mozilla's killer feature is tabbed browsing, tremendously addicting for surfers who need to keep more than one Web page open at a time. The browser offers the option of opening a hyperlink while still keeping the current page open. The new page is laid over the previous page, which remains accessible through a tab at the top of the browser window.
Users can switch from page to page by simply clicking on the appropriate tab'far easier than hunting around a cluttered desktop to launch another browser. The software also offers the option of bookmarking a bundle of pages, which is handy for jumping in and out of large Web searches.
Another handy feature: You can create your own keywords to use in the location bar to quickly call up Web pages. The browser also blocks pop-up ads, though occasionally this feature can be a little too aggressive in fending off a form, explanatory box or other useful minipage. In such cases, you click on an icon on the bottom right of the browser to reset the preferences for that page.
The full implementation of Mozilla also comes with a plain though serviceable e-mail client, newsgroup editor, Internet relay chat client, address book and Web page designer. You can download the browser at no cost from the Mozilla Web site or order a CD for $5.95.