Firefox Myths?

Someone looking for their 5 minutes of fame (obviously not worth 15 minutes) decided to post some Firefox Myths. It’s an interesting read, though has a few oddball statements, that really don’t make sense.

“Firefox has lower System Requirements than Internet Explorer”

The author omits that the “system requirements” don’t make the product usable. It’s just the lowest tested environment where the product runs. Windows XP can run on a 233 MHz CPU with 64 MB RAM. It doesn’t include a warning that you’ll throw it against a wall for the poor performance. To use any modern browser you going to need more than the minimum specs. Just ask any gamer how accurate the “minimum specs” are.

“Firefox is faster than Internet Explorer”

“Faster” can refer to many things (boot, css rendering, html rendering, large file rendering, UI responsiveness, etc. etc.). Assuming boot time, yes IE is faster considering it boots on startup. I don’t think anyone has calculated what IE would take if it didn’t integrate into the OS. My bet would be Opera is the fastest on Windows.

“Firefox is a secure Web Browser”

This is literally the first time I’ve heard that argument. The closest I’ve heard is “more secure”. Nothing more than a “Hello World” program is secure. Every product has vulnerabilities no matter how good the programmer, and no matter how good the audit on the source code. The question is how easy to detect and utilize are the vulnerabilities. I’d say since you can trick an IE user into trusting an ActiveX object (you can’t do that in Firefox since it won’t use ActiveX), there’s an advantage right there. Social Engineering is a form of hacking. You don’t have to know how to program to hack. The closest Firefox has is Extensions, though they seem to be mainly limited to more advanced users, who tend to be a bit more cautious.

“Firefox is a Solution to Spyware”

See above.

“Firefox is Bug Free”

Ok, I admit I literally laughed at this one. I can’t imagine anyone with any computing experience possibly making this claim. So I’d say the author made this one up. As the author points out it’s impossible for software to be bug free.

“Firefox was the first Web Browser to offer Tabbed Browsing”

Again something I doubt is really said, especially considering as Asa Notes:

In September of 2001, Dave Hyatt added a tabbed browsing mode to Mozilla. This feature was release in Mozilla 0.9.5 in October of 2001

Yes that’s right. Mozilla (SeaMonkey) had tabs before Firefox was even on the radar. He also notes Netcaptor as being first.

“Firefox fully Supports W3C Standards”

Again not likely anyone really says that. Anyone who cares enough to even know what W3C Standards are knows how poorly implemented they are. Interestingly the author omits that IE doesn’t fair to well in most categories of the site the author choose to reference. The author also misreads the statistics:

Feature MSIE 6 Firefox 1.0 Firefox 1.5
XHTML 1.0 changes 58% 100% 100%
XHTML 1.1 changes 39% 24% 24%

Notice the word “changes” as the stats author defines it (“not covered in the sections above”). The results are cumulative. You can achieve 100% XHTML 1.1 but still be pretty much nowhere because your XHTML 1.0 is so low. 100% XHTML 1.0 and 24% XHTML 1.1 (Firefox) is more usable than 58% XHTML 1.0 and 39% XHTML 1.1 (IE) for most (if not all) real purposes. Now to be fair to everyone the author notes “Percentages only concern the features tested by this resource”. I’m not sure if there is a more through analysis than that. If someone knows of one, please leave a comment.

“Firefox works with every Web Page”

This is the topic I have a fair amount of experience with, considering I implemented the reporting tool, and work with the data a bit. Of course the author managed to pull a percentage (15% incompatible) out of it’s proper context to make the percentage appear to be something static, when in reality, the source the author quotes states:

If Mozilla and the other non-Microsoft browser outfits hold their own or gain share, the 15% of Web sites that aren’t completely compatible with non-Microsoft browsers will come under pressure to design their sites to open Net standards. That way, Microsoft won’t be able to control how content is presented on the Web.

I personally can’t vouch for the accuracy of that number to begin with, so I’ll take it as truth with a grain of salt. I can’t imagine how someone could even make such a number without testing each website on the internet manually (since you can’t tell compatibility by machine since expected output isn’t a quantitative term. You’d need some revolutionary AI to do a task like that). Then you’d most likely need to factor in a site’s relevance. A 12 year olds GeoCities website shouldn’t have the same weight as Google for example (considering each to be 1 website). It’s actually an interesting statement. I’d love to know how WebSideStory (who came up with the stat) actually calculated it. If anyone from WebSideStory is reading, and would be willing to email me a bit more on the topic, I’d love to get a better understanding of the number.

Summary

Overall it was an entertaining read, though I’d question how many really are “myths” and how many are made up “myths” so the author had content to write about. Most of them are highly technical, and anyone who would even mention them would know how ridiculous they are. It’s like a Chief believing that Extra Virgin Olive Oil has to be pressed by virgin women (for those wondering EVOO is actually the first press, regardless of the history of the person who actually does the press).

50 thoughts on “Firefox Myths?

  1. Naturally the page is littered with Google ads and Firefox+Google banners, etc. It seems pretty clear that the guy is just trying to make a few bucks off adsense by stirring up random controversy. Blah.

  2. The author of that page wants to protect his copyright, but he apparently uses a modified SpreadFirefox button on a page mostly against Firefox. Isn’t it a violation of the Mozilla Trademark Policy?

    I mean, if you use the unmodified Windows logo on a website where you Microsoft all the time, it is against their trademark policy and, as such, it is illegal. I didn’t read the policy for Mozilla, but I think it is similar.

  3. When I encounter such a statement, I generally ask to have a glimpse to the bulk of the proof:
    IE is quicker to start than Firefox, and it is not because IE is preloaded, because Opera, which is not preloaded, is faster than Firefox.

    Unless IE stole code from Opera, of course. But I doubt IE would suck that much, then.

    _FrnchFrgg_

  4. Robin, that page has it’s own issues, largly a in the procedure in testing. His test for rendering in particular is a little silly (rendering an insane amount of styled tables etc.)

    I think that if you really wanted that page to be held up as meaningful you would have to think of a large number of meaningfull tests.

    What he has shown is that firefox is not as fast as rendering these specific examples (that you never encounter in the real world).

    ~ Anders

  5. Wow. I haven’t seen that many straw men in one spot in a long time. The only “myth” on there that I’ve seen Mozilla actually claim (noting that more secure is distinct from “secure”) is the faster performance—and there are so many factors involved (hardware, OS, which sites you’re visiting, etc.) that it’s essentially meaningless. Of course, he picked a particular aspect of speed that would fit his conclusion.

  6. The only real “XHTML 1.1 changes” are and siblings and Firefox doesn’t support that at all…

  7. The only real “XHTML 1.1 changes? are &ltruby> and siblings and Firefox doesn’t support that at all…

  8. I believe that author has a personal grudge against Firefox, or else he wouldn’t be so adamant against it in his stance. As for the Web standards, if he would have looked at the bottom of his source, he would have found that IE performed worst in (x)HTML, CSS and DOM than either Fx or Opera. Besides, when you quoted about “XHTML 1.0 changes”, it was apparantly using HTML 4.01 as the base above, which showed IE holding up worse than Fx to begin with.

  9. If I recall correctly, IE doesn’t support XHTML at all if you serve it with the recommended MIME type. I’m not sure it matters so much practically speaking, but if we’re going by the spec then maybe those percentages should be 0.

  10. Absolutely correct Tom. Whilst XHTML 1.0 has a ‘Note’ attatched that says you are sort-of maybe allowed to send it with a text/html MIME type, you can only send XHTML 1.1 as application/xhtml+xml. Internet Explorer will not render pages from an application/xhtml+xml mime type. I’m on a Mac so can’t check right now, but I believe it will either kick it is ‘XML view’ with syntax colouring for tags, or offer to save the output to disk.

    Judging spec support in such a strange was as ‘percentage’ strikes me an extremely odd (even if it wasn’t misinterpretting %changes).

    A very curious article is that ‘Firefox Myths’, but I’d be rest assured that because of the very technical nature of the criterea no-one from the world of ‘normal users’ will be reading it, and anyone with technical knowledge of the criterea can see the faults. The only people we’ll see citing it as a case for IE are people like the author himself.

  11. What I contest is not the difference in speed which may be here, but the proof of it.
    “The argument that Internet Explorer loads during Windows Startup is nullified by Opera’s start times”
    Try changing names:

    Regardless of whether it starts ahead, a F1 (Opera) always wins the race against a Ferrari Testarossa (Firefox). Therefore, the fact of starting in advance doesn’t matters.
    Logically, it means that in the race between a Testarossa and a Ladda (IE), the argument that the Ladda starts 2 min before the Testarossa is completely nullified, and as such the Ladda is faster that Firefox to boot.

    Completely wrong, eh ?

    IE may well be faster, that’s not the point. The cars choosen are not supposed to be a match for their browser counterpart, I just wanted to show that the argument is false since it clearly doen’t holds should you pick other objects. At least, some other hypothesis is used. That’s why I ask to see the bulk of the proof.

  12. i’ve been using firefox since 0.6 and i’ve only hear one of those: firefox is faster, which from my experience, it is.

    i’ve never heard anybody say that firefox is the solution to spyware, but, again, from my experience, i believe it is. i’ve stopped picking up spyware from my spybot and adaware scans after switching to firefox.

  13. Haha you’re in trouble now he’s going to use the evil DMCA against you for 😀

    Legal Notice – Reproduction of this page in whole or in part is strictly forbidden. This guide and ALL versions thereof are protected by copyright under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

    More seriously his analysis would be more credible if he offered links to where these claims were specifically made/by whom. For instance, if MoFo were stupid enough to claim that FF is a spyware “solution” then of course this is a myth and should be debunked. I doubt anyone could find such a statement on moz.org/moz.com. That FF is far less vulnerable to spyware vectors than IE on the other hand is far easier to prove.

  14. Of course Fx is slower to start up. Half of it’s written in interpreted, user-editable XML, CSS and Javascript.

    Besides, why does a 2 second faster startup time for IE matter if it crashes 10 times as often from ActiveX exploits?

  15. 1:If you want a FAST Firefox and a FAST machine etc., throw Windows XP out reinstall Windows se.eng.
    2:Uninstall I.E.
    3:Install Firefox 1.5 + the preloader from SourceForge.net.
    4:Firefox will POP UP after start.
    5:US Sites like the N.Y.T. or W.P. don’t “LOAD” the pop up! and that’s when connecting from DK
    6:The system is very stable!

  16. interesting, any one not educated would fall for the article.. but the clearence is a must, since i almost did until seeing asa’s post.

  17. If you think this is bad, you’d be amazed at all the forums he has been banned from. He’s notorious for the “cleaning prefetch is bad”, having gone after CCleaner.

  18. Watch the Fanboys crying.

    The minimum specs are valid. IE can run on Windows 98 with only a 486. As for Speed the data doesn’t lie. It is not just boot speeds IE owns FF in all the tests outside of script speed.

    Maybe you live under a rock but people all over the place are saying that Firefox is a secure web browser. Oh and please now extensions are for “advanced” users. Talk about spin.

    I’ve also heard people claim Firefox is perfect so pointing out it is not bug free is good information.

    You’re useless link to Mozilla having tabs before Firefox does not change the FACT that Netcaptor and Opera both had tabs before that.

    Notice you don’t show how well IE does with HTML 4.01 compatibility = 82% while FF only makes 4% better with 86%.

    Wow it looks like you guys don’t want to admit the problems here.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4115806.stm

    “1 in 10 websites do not work right with Firefox.”

    The fanboys here shouldn’t get so upset about getting owned so easily. No matter how much you try to spin the results.

  19. That guy was a moron, I pointed out MANY times in emails that IE couldn’t handle XHTML 1.0 that well and how it can’t fully handle CSS as it doesn’t reconize :before and :after in CSS as well as some HTML elements and ASCII Entities.
    He could only reply with “your laughable”

    And considering his page is full of ads, it’s a pathetic “get rich quick” scheme. He obviously knows nothing. His page doesn’t even validate.

  20. The author of the article is Andrew K. His article has been posted on many forums by a guy called Mastertech. Mastertech has also posted many anti-Firefox articles by a third person, also called Andrew, who has a blog/forum site. Mastertech’s opinions echo those of that Andrew remarkably. He has been challenged as to whether the two Andrews and himself are one and the same person. He has sometimes claimed that he is Andrew K. On another occassion, denied that he was either Andrew, claiming his name was Vincent, but that the two sites might in fact be written by the same person. Bit of a mystery? One person with three identities, one as the writer of “objective” articles, one of an (very biased) anti-Firefox blogger, and another as the inhabitant of various forums responsible for large number of postings.

    http://205.177.13.145/forums/v.....dc7599d04f

  21. This Myths guy has a lot of points and no one, including this article has remotely disproven him. Funny to see these personal attacks all because a guy points out problems with Firefox. Who cares who this guy is. The information on the page is accurate.

    Oh and his page validates, I just checked it.

  22. @Mike G.: you may want to read the article before commenting so you don’t look silly. As the author of one of his pieces of evidence wrote (here and on his own site), he misinterpreted data.

    Considering how strait forward the data is represented, one can make the safe conclusion the Myths author intentionally did so. The chart’s labeling is written in such a way that most grade school students would be able to analyze it.

    The most obviously wrong is the XHTML support, considering it’s impossible to support XHTML 1.1 without XHTML 1.0 thanks to the way the specs are written. That alone should tell you how little the author knows about the internet.

    Then the made up myths add some humor to the article.

  23. I read all of this and the original Myths page says:

    “Firefox fully Supports W3C Standards?

    I was under the impression it did so as well, the way people talk about it and the Data clearly shows the opposite. Looks like the original Myths author is right. As for the IE part he even says this on his page, which is getting at what you are refering to:

    “even without fully supporting XHTML yet”

    So it looks pretty clear to me IE supports more “changes” to XHTML 1.1 then Firefox does. I don’t see how you can misread that. Whether or not IE fully supports XHTML doesn’t change that observation.

    It seems though you are more worried about that then the original Myth, which to me is definitely one I have heard before and it is good to see it debunked. Alot of those Myths I hear all the time. Especially the Speed one and the security one. I never realized Firefox had so many vulnerabilities. Granted most are patched but clearly some remain unpatched. That sort of kills the Firefox is a secure web browser argument alot of snake oil salesman use to get people to switch.

  24. Mike G.: That was changed without any indication on the website. The original version was much more incorrect. After a long argument (most of which you can read in the blog post I linked to above), he made some changes in a weak attempt to look unbiased. The article is still full of nonsense and deliberately misleading statements.

    For instance, “even without fully supporting XHTML yet” is very misleading. The fact is, the way it’s implemented in IE, you can’t *use* any of the XHTML 1.1 changes in any correct way. For all practical purposes, IE *doesn’t* support those elements. It only supports them as proprietary extensions to HTML, not part of any W3C standard.

    Of course Firefox isn’t perfectly secure. Of course it doesn’t have 100% standards compliance. Of course it isn’t bug-free (I’ve never heard anyone claim that it was). But that isn’t all this resource is saying, and a lot of the details it gives are simply incorrect or totally biased. The speed comparison information comes from the website of an Opera employee. The article acts like “secure” means “perfectly secure”, and if it isn’t perfectly secure then it must be as insecure as Internet Explorer, which is clearly fallacious logic. It says that Opera is the most secure browser, when in fact there are browsers like lynx that blow away the competition in that respect. The note about auto-installing software in Internet Explorer doesn’t take into account the fact that several remote code execution vulnerabilities have been found from time to time, including one very recently (fixed December 13, 2005), and these could lead to auto-installing software even following the advice he gives. It doesn’t note that the Firefox popup blocker can be configured to block all popups always, including those coming from plugins (the default settings allow for user-requested popups, but Firefox can’t know when a popup from a plugin is user-requested, so by default it permits all popups from plugins). The article lies about what I have done to my website in response to his article (you can read an explanation in my blog post). It says Opera is the most standards-compliant web browser, citing my resource, when my resource clearly shows that Firefox is slightly ahead, and other browsers like Safari and Konqueror may even beat Firefox and Opera (we’ll see as I gather that information). Finally, the article claims it is not an endorsement for Internet Explorer, yet it straight-out recommends Avant Browser (Internet Explorer with UI enhancements) at the bottom.

    At this moment, his webpage does validate (it didn’t at one point). It uses XHTML incorrectly, failing to properly enclose the script contents in a CDATA section, and the way it was written will cause the ads to not work when the page is treated like actual XHTML. Aside from not understanding how XHTML works (big surprise), his site actually is designed rather well.

  25. Now you are complaining he made changes to the site to be more accurate? WTF? To me that is reputable.

    If XHTML is supported through “proprietary extensions to HTML” then that is support and the statement he made is correct. Definitely not misleading.

    Who cares who made the Speed Comparison page. What matters is if it is true or not. I don’t see you providing contrary proof only complaining.

    Lynx is not a true web browser. It is a text based browser.

    This looks like Scare tactics to me. Talk about bullshit. 😯

    “Internet Explorer users also get an extra box on the page recommending that they switch to a standards-compliant web browser.

    On my personal site, I also give Internet Explorer users a one-time redirect to a targetted message saying why their web browser is dangerous both to them and to the Web as a whole.”

    Man YOU seem to be the one with the problem with the IE bashing. No wonder you are so mad at this guy. That is pretty dirty stuff. I checked the web page in IE and the warning came up saying IE is dangerous and their is a problem with my web browser? WTF? You got issues man.

  26. @MikeG: XHTML 1.1 does not exist without 1.0. What IE has in regards to 1.1 is irrelevent unless the base is there.

    It’s the equivilant to making a nice window, but no wall… the window is worthless until you have a wall to install it in.

  27. Right and so? IE partially supports the XHTML 1.0 standard as well.

    Does IE support more XHTML v1.1 changes then Firefox or Not? This isn’t complicated. I’m looking at the chart myself.

  28. @Mike G: read the specs, then read the chart. Without a solid XHTML 1.0 base (which nobody can dispute is terrible, looking no further than the lack of mimetype support among other major missing features)… XHTML 1.1 is irrelevent.

    XHTML 1.1 only works on top of XHTML 1.0. If you have a worthless XHTML 1.0 foundation, 1.1 is worthless.

    Even if IE supported 100% of XHTML 1.1, they still have nothing, since XHTML 1.0 is missing.

    You obviously have no idea what XHTML 1.1 is, or you’d be getting a good laugh reading your posts.

    Btw: Opera is better, because the letter “O” has a hole in it, unlike IE or Fx. This hole provides for better performance than the little space in an E or F. Wanna debunk that myth? 😉

  29. So the following statement is correct then:

    “Ironically Internet Explorer supports changes to the XHTML 1.1 standard better than Firefox, 39% to 24%, even without fully supporting XHTML yet”

    I would find that ironic too. It doesn’t support XHTML 1.0 fully yet only 58% but supports more changes to XHTML 1.1 then FF does. 39% to 24%.

    But you still did not answer my question. Does IE support XHMTL 1.1 changes more then FF or not? Either it does or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t then the the author of the Data is wrong. If it does then the Firefox Myths author is technically correct in what he said. BTW I fully understand what you are saying in regards to the foundation ect.. it doesn’t change what is being said.

  30. Mike G: it’s been said before.

    XHTML 1.1 changes don’t truly exist, beause there’s not enough XHTML 1.0 support.

    The myths article is incorrect, beacuse it infers that the XHTML 1.1 support is usable. When in fact, it has no real use or purpose, other than something to write about.

    So does it support XHTML 1.1 changes more? Yes, but there’s still no real trace of XHTML 1.1 support as the article implies.

    The problematic word is “supports”, which infers that it has some real use. XHTML in IE is the biggest downfall for developers (the CSS bugs you can somewhat deal with). It’s about as useful as your car without wheels. The engine under the hood means nothing if there’s no way to move.

    The hope is IE7 adds some wheels.

  31. You say the changes don’t truely exist but the page clearly shows IE support XHTML 1.0 and 1.1 changes. Either it does or it does not. You can’t have it both ways.

    The article clearly states that IE does not fully support XHTML. From the chart this is clearly correct. Anyone can read the chart themselves.

  32. Ok I admit it. I am an idiot because I can’t understand the logical arguments presented to me. That’s because I have received the equivalent of a frontal lobotomy from using IE all the time. Now I am brain-damaged. The fact that I like eating Bill Gates Feces incessantly, has also slowed any possible reversal of the damage. So please don’t torture me any further with facts and logic; you can clearly see I can’t handle it.

  33. ^ Is this the type of childish behavior we can expect from Firefox community? Using someone’s posting name to insult them? I am beginning to wonder how old you guys really are?

    Not only is that immature but unprofessional.

  34. Wow, amazing article there Robert. I just read the myths thing somedays ago and we were having this heated disc in our forums when someone pointed me to this. Great stuff, seriously!

    Rocker Blog too!

  35. This page just provides opinions and no facts that disprove anything on the original Firefox Myths page. Why is this worthless blog linked to so much? It is all BS and sad.

    1. Those are the requirements for IE. You can run Windows 98 on a 486 with 16MB of RAM.

    2. Did you even READ the speed test? Not only is IE faster than Firefox at loading but it is faster in everything but script speed. And since it is obvious you did not read any of the sources. Opera is faster than both of them.

    3. Your rant about security disproves nothing on the Myths page. Firefox is NOT a secure web browser.

    4. Again just because you have no heard something does not mean it is not said. What kind of argument is that? If I ask my grandmother something and she never heard of Firefox does that mean it does not exist? Please.

    5. What was your pointless comment about Tabs supposed to mean? The Myth was that FF was not the first browser with Tabs and you go on to mention Seamonkey? What the hell was the point of that? It is a fact Netcaptor and Opera had tabs before FF.

    6. I almost fell out of my chair with this one. You never heard people say FF fully supports standards and IE does not? You must live in a very closed circle of friends.

    7. Interesting all those Standards on that page have changed as has the Myths page to coincide. It doesn’t matter though, it is nice to see all the FUD about firefox and standards debunked. FF clearly does not fully support standards.

    8. Lastly you make another useless fact less based rant about web page compatibility yet don’t disprove a single thing.

    Seriously was this blog made out of desperation because you don’t include a SINGLE fact disputing a damn thing. Pathetic. I even see Aza linked to this. You guys are grasping at straws as this Myths guy just exploded all you fanboys dreams. Too funny.

  36. After having been in several long discussions with Andrew K. (the author of the Firefox Myths page), I notice that Mike G’s posting style is nearly identical to Andrew K’s. I should also mention that he has posted under many different names on various sites, all claiming to be someone different from Andrew K., but all determined (via I.P. checks, etc.) to be him. Some of the names include: Mastertech, GeneralAres, FFeLEET, Mastermind, Realist, and chiawaikian. Under all of these names, at one point or another, he has pretended that he wasn’t the author or outright lied about it. He also has an extensive history of trolling and ban evasion.

    Just a heads-up.

  37. I know I’m perhaps overly suspicious, but could these posting in fact all be the same person, i.e. the author of Firefox Myths himself?

    Joe Somebody
    The Bugster
    Thor
    Mike G

    In which case, bravo! to the person who faked the fakers ID. Well done!

  38. After reading all this I have to agree with Thor’s comments. I was directed here from a friend who says this debunks the “Myth Maker”. Yet Robert you don’t refute a single Myth from the page. I can see why people, especially Firefox users got upset about this page until you read the sources. I recommend everyone read the sources! It really opened my eyes. After reading the Myths I tried Opera and low and behold it is faster! I highly recommend everyone give this browser a try. I don’t know why more people are not recommending it? It truely is a gem. I’m now using Opera full time and loving it. Cheers.

    -David D.

  39. Ok, we now have several “people” Mike G, David Dobsen who are the same person with the same IP address.

    Also interesting that it’s believed to be the same IP of the author of the Myths article.

    Thanks David Hammond for the help.

    Grow up, comments are closed.

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