Sunday, September 26, 2004

Savvy Web Surfers Catch New Wave of Browsers: "Since Microsoft won the browser wars in the late 1990s, its Internet Explorer software has been the way most people surf the Web. But with some slick new challengers on the scene, that may be about to change.

"While Internet Explorer has remained largely unchanged for years, alternative Web browsers like Opera, Apple Computer's Safari and especially Firefox are wowing users with innovative features and the promise of increased protection from hackers.

"Firefox rose from the ashes of Netscape, the first popular Web browser, which kick-started the dot-com boom before being vanquished by Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Netscape was then purchased by America Online, which donated the software's code to the non-profit Mozilla Foundation."

"Most estimates put Internet Explorer's overall market share at about 95 percent. But a shift can also been seen among the early adopter crowd, which picks up on technology trends months or years before the mainstream."

"Among the alternative browsers, only Firefox is open-source, which means that any computer programer can burrow into its code and add customized add-ons to automatically check an e-mail account, control a digital music player, and enable searches of Google, Amazon.com, eBay and the Internet Movie Database.

"There are also some more advanced features that will probably appeal only to advanced users, like the ability to view RSS feeds—short text digests of Web sites—in the bookmarks menu."

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