Browser update…

I have, I’m afraid, given up the quest for a browser that will do everything I ask of it (as Firefox 2 did). Until Mozilla get their heads out of their collective asses, and accept that no-one wants their stupid Awesome Bar, and that Firefox 3 is a fuck-up (and still can’t handle Bookmarks), that they still haven’t fixed, there’ll be nothing to replace Firefox 2. Chrome and Safari are very similar and, I’m afraid, browser foetuses rather than fully-developed and functional apps. I know Chrome is still in beta – it’s still shit. IE is as clunky as it ever was.

I use Opera as my main browser, and I’ll continue to do so, as it does almost everything acceptably well, and some things very well. It is, I believe, the perfect browser for most people. For me, though, the fact that Google Gears, which speeds up WordPress, is not yet compatible with Opera, and that Opera isn’t entirely compatible with WordPress, are problems.

I can compensate by writing my blog posts in Word, then pasting them into WordPress, which is what I’m doing right now, but Opera loses all my formatting in the process, which really pisses me off(the reverse is true, too – copying text from the web, in Opera, and pasting it into Word, fails to give me the normal formatting options that I expect).

To solve the blog problem, I’ve had to revert to Firefox 2 when I’m posting, and that shouldn’t present too much of a security risk when support for FF2 ends next month. Typing posts, other than very short, simple, ones, directly into WordPress using Opera simply isn’t an option; it’s too compromised. For most folk, this just doesn’t matter.

The downloading text thing I can live with, and for things where the formatting options are important, I’ll have to use IE.

For online shopping, some sites are still incompatible with Opera and Firefox, and often you don’t find out until checkout, which pisses me off big-time. Most of those I use regularly – I shop for pretty much everything except food online, unless I’m not able to get out, then I’ll use Tesco. They’re compatible with Opera but not, bizarrely, with FF.

There’s a problem shopping with Opera, as it’s facility for remembering the repetitive stuff you have to input is very limited (IE is simply crap at that, and always has been, even with the requisite plug-in). FF2, though, is simply superb at remembering stuff – I can complete online forms with just a few mouse clicks but, of course, once support ends it’s going to become increasingly insecure, so I’ll use it less and less as time goes by. I’ve only stopped using it full-time because I decided to give Opera a thorough workout, and stayed with it.

For the foreseeable future, though, I’m going to be running at least 2 browsers simultaneously, Opera and FF2 (showing just my WordPress writing page, though I’ll also use it on some shopping sites until it becomes a problem; I had hoped Mozilla might change their minds about killing it off, but I’m not holding my breath!), with IE fired up whenever I need it. Good job my PC’s not short of memory. Unless things change dramatically, I can’t see this changing any time soon.

Update, November 30:- Last night someone posted a comment, which was actually more of a rant, along the lines of “You’re wrong, I’m right…”  about Opera so I binned it. The only person allowed to rant here is me. The crux of the argument was that I’m totally wrong about Opera and IE is far superior, to which there is only one thing to say – Bollocks!

IE is a clunky browser – it always has been, and from what I’ve seen of IE8, despite all it’s flashy plug-ins and add-ons, the basic browser will remain clunky – if it were not for the existence of the terrible Outlook Express IE would surely be in the running for the worst MS app ever. That’s my opinion, OK? It’s based on my long experience of IE and I’m not interested in being told I’m wrong, so don’t bother. I used IE for over a decade, before switching, first to Firefox and, more recently, to Opera, because support for FF2 ends soon, and FF3 is an abortion. Opera, like FF2, is better than IE7 in almost every conceivable way. I have probably a couple of thousand bookmarks, amassed over a long period – IE7, like every version before it, and like IE8 to come, as far as I can see, has no Favorites search facility, which is frankly shit. Searching them in Opera, like FF2, is a breeze.

Opera isn’t quite as good as FF2, which is a shame (see above – these shortcomings shouldn’t bother the average user), but I’ve been using it for a couple of months now, and I’m 99% happy with it (hey, nothing’s perfect). I spend a lot of time online and I need a browser with which I’m comfortable, which will do what I want it to do, with no baulkiness, and which won’t keep pissing me off, which IE did repeatedly. Firefox didn’t, and neither does Opera, and that’s good enough for me. Probably good enough for you, too. As with any app, there’s a bit of a learning curve (and the basic colour scheme sucks, but it’s easy to change), but it’s pretty easy to get the hang of. My advice would be to live with it for a couple fo weeks, before deciding whether you like it or not. That, of course, is dependent on how much time you spend online. If you just dip into the Net for a few minutes a day then you’ll be just as happy with IE. If, however, you’re online, as I am, for hours at a time, then I strongly recommend Opera; there really is nothing that can compete with it right now, and don’t let anyone tell you different.