Scott Granneman (scottgranneman) Sat 18 Jun 05 14:07
Tom, MSFT has been trying to improve security. I'll give 'em that. Buuuuuut ... they've still got major problems with the architecture of their browser. It's still welded to the OS, and all of the stopgaps they've implemented have to occur after the fact. In other words, MSFT now has a nice anti-spyware tool available (it's in beta, and it was actually created by a company that MSFT bought, but it's still pretty darn good). In addition to scanning your PC for spyware, it also monitors IE on the fly to prevent changes to the browser. However, it's kind of silly that they need a tool to prevent changes to the browser from spyware - why doesn't the browser come without the ability for it to be changed so easily? In other words, your house should prevent intruders from coming in the door, not allow them in the door, bop them over the head, and then toss them out. The way that IE is currently coded and integrated into the OS, we're going to see security problems with that browser for years to come. (This isn't to say that Ff is perfect. It isn't, and security issues are found. But they're usually not as severe, and they're usually fixed far faster than security problems are at MSFT.)
Tom Howard (tom) Sat 18 Jun 05 15:25
Yes, I must say I was more than pleasantly surprised with the little green update arrow on Ff appearing all of a sudden. Disheartened to see it too frequently after 1.0 came out, but bless 'em anyway. You're certainly right about the whole fundamental problem that IE is simply sitting on. During the past year of MS getting their act together about security updates and spyware prevention, I saw way too many people with computers that were hopelessly unsalvageable. You really cannot pay to have someone clean them as it just takes too long. Nuke and pave has been the only solution for some instances. Anyway, this discussion and your book will be encouraging me to try again to switch some of our company users away from IE. Now. About Outlook! :)
Loren Rosen (loren-rosen) Sun 19 Jun 05 08:25
How about Firefox in a work/business environment? Any new or different issues?
It's a new sun to me (nukem777) Sun 19 Jun 05 17:34
re: 27 move to Linux or Unix and save everyone the trouble...plenty of Windows emulators now...
Scott Granneman (scottgranneman) Mon 20 Jun 05 07:57
Loren, the big problem with Ff in a work environment of any size is that lack of administrative tools. MSFT very smartly developed the IEAK (IE Adminstrator's Kit) very early on, which allows admins to customize & lock down IE in a way unique to each company, and then push it out to every computer they administer. Ff doesn't have a tool like that. Well, not quite. There is an unofficial tool that works pretty well, although I haven't used it. I blogged about it on The Open Source Weblog a while back, at http://opensource.weblogsinc.com/entry/2487384415215817/. Called The Firefox Deployment Builder, the product enables, as it says, "Automated deployment of Firefox with extensions, themes, and pre-configuration". That's very cool. I appreciate Bob Templeton's hard work on the Firefox Deployment Builder, but I'm also hoping that someone like IBM, which has several Ff programmers on the payroll, or Novell, which has expertise in software like this (ZENworks, for instance), develops something that other ReallyBigCo's feel comfortable using. That will enable Firefox to take off in the enterprise space.
Scott Granneman (scottgranneman) Mon 20 Jun 05 08:01
nukem777, as a certified Linux bigot (writing this using Libranet Linux right now!), I can't agree more. And don't forget Mac OS X! There are plenty of Windows emulators for Mac OS X, Linux, Unix, and so on. And managing Ff on *nix machines is faaaaar easier than it is on Windows (thank you, APT!).
Loren Rosen (loren-rosen) Mon 20 Jun 05 09:42
I also hear that some companies can't switch because they have internal applications that rely on IE.
Scott Granneman (scottgranneman) Mon 20 Jun 05 10:14
Tom, replacing Outlook is a toughie. For people using Outlook Express, there's always Thunderbird, the open source first cousin of Firefox (available at http://www.mozilla.org/products/thunderbird/. Tbird imports emails and settings from Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, and lots of other programs. It's quite secure, feature-packed, and there are tons of extensions available for the program that take it in very cool directions. I use it when I have to use Windows, and it's fine. That said, that doesn't help Outlook users who need a full-featured PIM. Fortunately, Novell is starting the process of porting the very nice open source Evolution (find out more about it at http://www.novell.com/products/desktop/features/evolution.html) over to Windows. It's in many ways a clone of Outlook, with email, calendar, to-do lists, contacts, and more. It will also connect to an Exchange server. However, it still the easy propagation of viruses & worms that Outlook provides, but they're working on it (just a joke, just a joke!). It'll be some time until Evolution is ready for Windows, tho. In the meantime, there are other options, such as Novell's GroupWise and SUSE's OpenExchange (I think that's the name).
Scott Granneman (scottgranneman) Mon 20 Jun 05 10:23
Loren, you're correct. I don't really have a lot of sympathy for those companies, since they should have been striving for development & apps that adhere as closely as possible to W3C standards. Hopefully more companies will realize that using MSFT-specific "extensions" to HTML and CSS only serves to lock them in to MSFT, & that web standards exist for a reason: to provide folks with common methods that give them the freedom to use different vendors and developers.
Loren Rosen (loren-rosen) Mon 20 Jun 05 10:46
I've wondered though, when companies get stuck with IE, whether it's the html extensions and non-standard formatting that are at issue, or is it use of ActiveX? Or -- doesn't IE have some special integration with Microsoft's identity management stuff?
Scott Granneman (scottgranneman) Mon 20 Jun 05 14:15
ActiveX is a factor, certainly ... I shouldn't have forgotten that one. Again, though, that's a non-standard technology. I know that there's work going on now to standardize the plugin architecture that Netscape introduced long ago. Of course, MSFT dropped plugins for ActiveX due to "security reasons" long ago (ironically enough!). I also know that MSFT's proxy server formerly worked only with IE, but that's changed as of a few versions ago in Mozilla & Firefox. I'm not sure about id management. Could someone else enlighten us?
Chris (cooljazz) Mon 20 Jun 05 17:30
Scott, I knew I would like the tech support folks in my new job that I started this spring. Everyone in IT that helps me, at some point notices and its "ohh, you have Firefox, ...good!".
Scott Granneman (scottgranneman) Mon 20 Jun 05 22:08
Chris, you are a lucky, lucky man!
It's a new sun to me (nukem777) Tue 21 Jun 05 03:25
Very happy with OSX, but after the recent announcement am waiting for the new Rosetta system and hope to have Linux, Mac and Windows all on one box, 3 separate drives though. Hackers Unite!
Loren Rosen (loren-rosen) Tue 21 Jun 05 06:28
What's the biggest problem unsophisticated users have with browsers overall? My vote is for dealing with helper applications -- Adobe Reader (Acrobat), Real Audio, etc.
J Matisse Enzer (matisse) Tue 21 Jun 05 07:10
Misuse of the Back Button
Ari Davidow (ari) Tue 21 Jun 05 07:46
If the back button is the obvious way for users to get back to where they just were, then the "misuse" isn't by the users, but by developers who insist that users relearn how to use their tools to meet the convenience of the developer. Of course, where you are starting with stateless HTML, that might be more judgemental of developers looking for sanity than it might be.
Dennis Wilen (the-voidmstr) Tue 21 Jun 05 07:57
Heh. I'd say the biggest problem with newbie users is reluctance/inability/ignorance to use browser settings and preferences. Windows users especially seem unaware that a browser window doesn't always have to be full screen.
Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Tue 21 Jun 05 08:53
what is meant by "misuse?"
Tom Howard (tom) Tue 21 Jun 05 20:08
Scott, thanks for the note about Outlook. Yes, it's the integration of all that has me sold on it. I also have Thunderbird installed, but not as my main email client. I have about 10 different accts set up there as backups for me and others. And, Hotmail, and Hotmail Popper, too. So. I use Ff for the Web, IE for backup. OL for email, etc., and Tb for backup. Quite the delightful mess, eh?
J Matisse Enzer (matisse) Tue 21 Jun 05 20:45
I mispoke when I said "miuse of the back button", what I was thinking was how newbies use the back button instead of open an extra tab and dragging links from tab A to tab B, and switching between the two tabs.
S*L*J*O (chuck) Tue 21 Jun 05 20:49
Some of us still don't use tabs.
Public persona (jmcarlin) Tue 21 Jun 05 21:04
Some of us are 'late adopters'.
beneath the blue suburban skies (aud) Wed 22 Jun 05 08:56
and some of us could never live without tabs ever again!
Loren Rosen (loren-rosen) Wed 22 Jun 05 09:38
I actually didn't know (til now) that you could make a tab by dragging the little icon in the URL field over to the tab bar. What's your favorite less well-known Firefox feature?
Members: Enter the conference to participate