Well lets start with the downloads, Internet Explorer 7 is the larger of the two with the download totalling 14.8MB. By contrast Firefox is just 5.4MB. Whilst neither of the two should be of much worry to broadband users, dial-up users may be put off Internet Explorer 7 due to the initial download being almost 3 times the size of it’s main competitor.
More differences start to show between the two after the download. Once installed Internet Explorer 7 immediately requires a reboot which is a slight inconvenience, whilst FireFox 2 does not. Both browsers take roughly the same amount of time to install and then start up, but once they are running it’s a completely different story.
If you’ve ever used a previous version of Firefox then you will notice the familiar main page and layout of the new Firefox 2. However Internet Explorer 7 doesn’t resemble its older version whatsoever. Firstly the menu bar is hidden by default, to show it you must hold the ‘Alt’ key. You can set it to show by changing the settings in ‘View > Toolbars’ if so desired though.
Both browsers feature built-in systems aimed at protecting us from phishing websites. Whilst Internet Explorer 7 checks via the web to make sure a site is safe to visit, Firefox handles this by updating a locally held list of known phishing sites every time you use it.
The most apparent addition to Internet Explorer 7 is the tabbed browsing, whilst this is a great addition it is nothing new when compared to much older versions of Firefox, and the current one alike.
Although Internet Explorer 7 does have a tab readily available to use in one click, whereas Firefox 2 requires you to open a link in a new window to get another tab.. which can be slightly frustrating at times. Another feature that Internet Explorer 7 does have, which Firefox does not, is the ability to show all of your open tabs in a bird’s-eye style view (shortcut: ‘Ctrl’ + ‘Q’).
One of the most useful inclusions for Firefox 2 is a live spell checker that checks your spelling (who would have guessed..) as you type text into any text box on a webpage. Internet Explorer 7 does have this type of feature by default, although it is possible to add a similar function to via an add-on, but with it being an extra I’m not sure how many people will realise and get it.
When searching a webpage in Internet Explorer 7 you get the old fashioned popup box in which you type your query and hit enter to find what you are looking for. Whereas in Firefox 2 when calling up the search function a text box fixed to the bottom of the page appears which you then type your search term in and it takes you immediately to the first appearance of your query on the page, as long as it is there of course.
Both browsers have built in RSS feed reeders, both work well and are simple enough to use. I however use an external program to manage my feeds so I’m not going to comment on which I think is the best of the two browsers as I won’t be using either of them enough!
Although both browsers have there differences both Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 are now mildly comparable, well at least more so than Internet Explorer 6 was to Firefox.
The battle of the browsers looks set to continue for a long time to come, ultimately however it will always remain the end-users decision on which one (s)he chooses. For me Internet Explorer 7 has come an extremely long way, so much so that it is my default browser for the time being! Something which I would never have even dreamed about with Internet Explorer 6.