Posts Tagged 'Internet Explorer'

Branded Browsers = LAME

In the course of my day job (techy “IT” sys admin-type stuff), I deal with a fair number of new computers — laptops, desktop machines, servers, etc..  You home users typically have to wrangle with all of the preinstalled *crud* that comes with a new computer — here, here and here — but business clients, such as our company, usually get some say in what is and isn’t loaded.


Our buddies at Dell evidently *have* to have their hand in something on these new computers.  Anything!  So what do they do?  Check it…

Honestly…how useless is that?  Does Dell really need to ‘brand’ my browser window?  Are the Dell-branded screen, laptop case, and bootup screens not enough?  Perhaps I’ll forget where I purchased my computer from??!  Well, Dell has the solution for that.  And how *exactly* is Dell (in this case) “providing Internet Explorer”?  Just by *allowing* it to be preloaded with the OS?  Hmmm.  Good thinking, guys — and thanks for the subtle reminder. 

May I suggest a few more “branding” opportunities that you’ve missed?

To be fair, I’ve seen other vendors pull the same, lame stunt <cough> COMCAST <cough>.  Thanks, but no thanks, guys.  We can do without it.

By the way, here’s how to remove that text.


Switching back to IE. Seriously.

For those that know me, it’s no shocker that I’m a fan of Microsoft and their products. I don’t like everything that they produce, but more often than not I’m willing to…

  1. Give them the benefit of the doubt
  2. Put up with their nonsense longer than other vendors
  3. Willingly take part in useless arguments over things that really don’t matter

I may have just defined a “fan boy”.

So… a few years back I saw others operating in these new-fangled “tabbed” browser sessions. My browser-of-choice at the time, IE6, didn’t support such wackiness — atleast not without installing some sort of ‘Internet Explorer shell’, which I wasn’t interested in. I’m still not, to be honest. As it turns out, there was this *zany* product out there called Mozilla Firefox. I wasn’t about to switch browsers without a fight, but Firefox was certainly compelling to me. A few years back I began using Firefox (1.x) and never looked back. Tabbed browsing was mine!!!

Well, here we are in early 2008 and I’m writing this from an IE7 session. In fact, I don’t even have Firefox installed on my box. Whassup wit dat? I guess it’s due to a few things. For starters, IE7 offers “tabbed browsing” and does a pretty good job of it. It really does. Secondly, I got really tired of the memory-sapping behavior of Firefox. Thirdly, I got tired of Firefox crashing on me. Blame whomever/whatever you like, Firefox crashed on me quite often. It gets old.

As the song says, “Breaking up is hard to do“. Indeed. I had become VERY accustomed to several aspects of Firefox. Perhaps the most difficult to give up is AdBlock for Firefox. It works very well, and you REALLY don’t miss the lame ads, pop-ups, and painful Flash videos everywhere. Thankfully, there is a very nice add-on for IE called AdBlock Pro that does the same thing. I would venture a guess that the Firefox add-on is better, but not by much. Secondly, the IEtab add-on for Firefox really made switching between the Firefox and IE engine for a particular site very, very easy. Of course, I primarily needed to do this when I was browsing a site in Firefox that did not look so good. In my world, it seems to happen more often than I’d like. That being the case, now that I’m using IE7, I really don’t have much of a need for the IEtab feature. Perhaps a ‘FirefoxTab’ add-on for IE? 🙂 Thirdly, my “bookmarks” in Firefox were very organized and quite extensive. I thought for sure that IE7 would not be able to import my Firefox bookmarks, but I was wrong. In fact, it imported them PERFECTLY and life resumed with nary a hiccup. I guess Microsoft is aware of Firefox’s growing popularity?

Has my IE switchback been perfect? Not necessarily, but it’s been just fine. Better than I expected, in fact. IE7 performs well, is stable so far, and is certainly a polished product. What would I change in Internet Explorer? I’m glad you asked. Here are some items that I’ve found bothersome in IE7 thus far…

  1. Have to select a tab to close it. Firefox had the [X] icon on browser tabs even when you weren’t using that tab. That meant that I could close the tab quickly, without having to switch to it. Evidently I can middle-click a tab in IE to close it, but that ain’t working for me right now. Might be my fancy mouse drivers. Hmmm.
  2. The top-right “search” area in IE doesn’t show me what engine is currently selected. Nit-picky, perhaps, but it’s annoying to me.
  3. Folders and/or network paths showing up in my URL drop-down. Firefox doesn’t have this issue. I realize that my IE browser is supposed to be “integrated” with my OS, but I typically use my browser for browsing, and my file manager for managing files. Crazy, I know.
  4. Placement of the refresh icon. For whatever reason, the placement of the refresh icon in IE feels strange to me — like far away from the other stuff. I don’t like it much, but then again I don’t use it much either.
  5. The ‘find’ feature. Simply put, the find feature of Firefox is great and *much* better than IE’s “pop-up” method. You listening to this, Microsoft?

Here are some things that I really enjoy about using IE7…

  1. The New Tab button to the right of the current tabs. Although I’m quite used to hitting CTRL+T to make a new tab, using the mouse to do that task feels very natural. It’s also a lot better than File > Whatever > New Tab > Blah, Blah
  2. Favorites management. It’s taken me some time to get used to, but I’m now a fan of the IE method for favorites managment. Left justified, nested, etc.. Good stuff. Quite honestly, messing with my favorites (or ‘bookmarks’) in Firefox always felt like a chore.

Finally, a few things that I’m not quite sure about just yet…

  1. The placement of URLs in the URL drop-down. Here’s the deal: IE and Firefox handle this differently. IE will take sites you’ve visited and automatically place them at the top of your URL drop-down. Makes sense, I guess. More commonly used URLs float to the top of the list, while others migrate downward (and eventually OFF entirely). Firefox doesn’t do this, though. The URL, for instance, would retain it’s position in the URL drop-down until it goes away. Strange, in some ways, but I got used to seeing at the bottom of the drop-down while remains at the top. Who’s right, in this case? I don’t know. Microsoft, I think, but both methods have merit.
  2. Quick Tabs function in IE7. Notice that little “four squares” icon next to your favorites in IE? That shows you a large thumbnail view of your current browser session windows. Seems like a handy feature, but I never, ever use it. I’m not sure why I would. It’s a bit like the Flip 3D feature of Windows Vista — neat to look at, but seemingly useless, if you ask me.

One last thing: does anyone else use their URL drop-down as a sort of “favorites” location? I find that I’ve grown accustomed to seeing certain URLs in my drop-down, to the point that I almost become protective of it. I know that if I have to visit a URL real quick-like (that I normally wouldn’t need to visit), that it’s going to show up in my drop-down for the next few weeks. It bothers me to see it there. Why can’t I right-click on an item in the URL drop-down and remove it? Perhaps I’m the only person who cares… 🙂

That’s it, then! A summary of my IE-to-Firefox-to-IE-again experience. Who knows… maybe I’ll end up switching back to Firefox again when version 3.0 comes out!

(Note to Mozilla: put the Home icon back on the nav bar for Firefox 3.0. Trust me.)