Head to head: Firefox vs Internet Explorer

In our latest head to head, we weigh up the web's most popular browsers: Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox.

But there are also plenty of JavaScript-based applications out there notable examples being Google's Calendar and Docs services. And whenever you visit one of these sites, Firefox will give you a much slicker experience than IE8.

Javascript

Firefox's fast JavaScript support makes web applications such as Google Docs a pleasure to use.

Winner: Firefox

Overall

There's no doubt which browser is the winner: the points stack up decisively on Firefox's side. But it's not as crushing a victory as it may appear.

Most Firefox users don't rely on plug-ins, and if you have Windows Update set to download patches automatically you'll get a comparable level of security from IE8. In many cases, switching from Microsoft's browser to Firefox won't visibly affect your online experience at all.

What differences there are between the browsers may simply reflect their different design strategies, with Firefox's open source coding teams having more freedom to innovate and experiment than Microsoft's more rigid organisation. While several of IE's features follow in Firefox's footsteps, that's not necessarily a bad thing: with a few exceptions, it means the technology has been tried and tested before landing on your desktop. Yes, past versions of Internet Explorer had their faults, but for everyday surfing IE8 is a perfectly respectable choice.

All the same, if you want the latest features and the fastest browser, it's Firefox all the way.

Winner: Firefox

Verdict

Internet Explorer 8 is a mature application offering a good range of comforts and conveniences. But Firefox has the edge thanks to its slicker design, better performance and huge library of plug-ins.

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