No more reasons to stay with Mozilla
November 14, 2004 | co.mments
I've moved over to Thunderbird and Firefox. Mozilla is now uninstalled; IE's last remaining purposes are to test websites and view XML files. I haven't used Outlook/Express for years now.
The last time I tried Thunderbird I stopped after a few minutes. It didn't import Mozilla mail files; that had to be done by hand (I'm aware that this is not a hard thing to do). Version 0.9 however does have an import tool. The last time I tried Firefox it crashed a lot and felt clumsy. Both apps are much improved. Hopefully this will remove a constant source of puzzlement from my work colleagues, most of whom are using at least Firefox and have been looking at me with some concern in my mail and browsing choices for some time now.
The truth is, as a Mozilla user, features like popup, cookie and junk mail controls and tabbed browsing are less exciting than if you're coming from IE/Outlook. However some things are worth pointing out about the two from a Mozilla perspective:
- In Firefox, right-click close tab and right-click close all other tabs are not beside each other. That alone makes it worth switching, although they probably have them the wrong way around - close tab is on the bottom instead of the top (from right click I close tabs more often than I open). What Mozilla did by putting them beside each other will go down as one of the great UI bloopers.
- In Firefox, opening a new tab puts that new tab in the background. This makes browsing much easier than the Mozilla way of bringing you into the new tab just so you can click back to the one you were on (you almost always want to stay on the original page).
- In Firefox, the home page is a clutter-free wrapper around the Google seach form. Like my many developers, Google was my homepage, so this is good.
- In Firefox, a search bar has been integrated into the menu area to the right of the URL bar. Mozilla used to have to take valuable real estate by using an entire sidebar to show a single seach form.
- Thunderbird when downloading a lot of mail does not seem to perform that annoying feat of displaying mutiple icons in the system tray, which makes the entire taskbar in windows oscillate.
- Thunderbird can be set to spellcheck before sending mail. Outlook has had this feature for years. As a terrible typist, I expect this will be something of win.
- Thunderbird can be set to stop images being loaded into email.
- In both, theme management is much better. I do miss the Orbit theme, but the minimalist in me really likes the 708090 theme.
And these applications are fast. I figure either to boot in a few seconds, on par with IE. Mozilla used to take an age to load (20+ seconds)
The single annoyance: Thunderbird did not import my mail filters from Mozilla. I had a lot of those.
As useful as the features and usability tweaks are, there is something much more interesting about Firefox and Thunderbird, and that is the sense you are dealing with well-polished end user applications and not collections of components. Firefox and Thunderbird represent a new breed of open source projects that are first and foremost, products. They have a clear focus on end users, well articulated missions, and critically, keen brand awareness. It will be interesting to see if and how Mozilla evolves beyond the mail/browser pair into a set of infoware-tools that move beyond the ageing and increasingly less relevant productivity suites. Desktop search, IM, media management, feed reading and music all seem like candidates.
November 14, 2004 01:42 PM
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