Recently I've seen firefoxmyths.com referenced a few times, mostly on forum threads about "which browser is better".
When I first saw it, I was interested, since I had thought that someone had finally catalogued all the bullshit about Firefox going around the internet. However, this reads more like an advertisement for Avant Browser.
disclaimer: I can't stand Firefox fanboys crapping on about what they don't understand, as you might have noticed by my earlier post on some of Firefox's "innovations". Personally, I use Opera. However, this page is so horribly wrong on most counts that I'm forced to defend Firefox here. So, here follows a debunking of the debunking on that site...
The author appears to misunderstand the difference between "browser" and "operating system", and manages to contradict himself, all in the one "point".
First off, he claims that IE has "much" lower system requirements than Firefox, while ignoring the fact that the CPU clock speed required for IE is roughly double that of Firefox. Secondly, he doesn't take into account that IE is part of the operating system, so its requirements appear to be much less than those of Firefox, particularly the "disk space" ones.
Update: I was wrong here, the requirement for IE is actually a "486 66 Mhz CPU", not a "486.66 Mhz CPU" as I had read it. I can't find a Microsoft source for my claims as to IE's integration into the OS, but they are somewhat substantiated by this quote:
Internet Explorer 6 SP1 setup installs the majority of its files on the drive where the Windows operating system is installed, regardless of the installation location you choose...from the source provided at firefoxmyths.com. I also forgot to admit that Firefox has some pretty bad issues with memory consumption under the default configuration, though this issue is not reproducible under all Firefox installations.
Most of the information listed here is correct, simply because it's sourced from a much more reliable source. However, this..
The argument that components of Internet Explorer may load during Windows Startup is nullified by Opera's start times. Which means there is no excuse for this except poor coding on Firefox's part...is an interesting idea. Somehow, the author thinks that the fact that Opera has a faster "cold start" than IE means that saying "IE loads in part with Windows" is completely invalid. We call this an "fallacy of irrelevance".
Update: The author refuses to accept that Opera is irrelevant to the myth "Firefox Is Faster Than Internet Explorer". Guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.
Market Share Myths
I'd question the reliability of any stats on browser market share, since it depends on so many factors: for one, the content of the site measuring the stats.
Update: Yes, I agree with the author on this one as per his comments below, but not the site. The wording of the site implies that somehow, the lower usage statistics are "more correct", when it would be more accurate to say that the fact that there are several conflicting reports on Firefox's market share indicates that measuring market share is extremely difficult and unreliable and such statistics should be taken with a grain of salt.
The Secunia advisory for Firefox claims that currently, there are only three unpatched vulnerabilities, all of which have medium criticality or lower (3 / 5 bars). Opera has one unpatched vulnerability with the lowest level of criticality (a minor URL spoofing problem). IE currently has 32 unpatched vulnerabilities from Extremely Critical to Not Critical. While this does indicate that Opera is "the most secure", in my opinion it does not make Firefox "insecure"; the author claims that one vulnerability is enough to make software "insecure". Firefox's security claims are based on comparison to Internet Explorer, and are perfectly valid. While Firefox does have its share of security flaws, it has proven to have had far less serious flaws, and it has responded to them more quickly than Internet Explorer - which is the main point marketed by the Mozilla team. Additionally, the author's arguments about spyware, while logical, are simply not true: Firefox is an excellent "solution", in part, to the spyware problem - as its comparably low level of exploits and smaller and more IT-savvy user base, make it a much less attractive to spyware vendors, and as such, there is no widely spread spy/malware software that installs through Firefox (at least to my knowledge).
Update: The author continues to claim that one vulnerability nullifies any chance of describing the software as "secure", so again, we'll have to agree to disagree here. However, nowhere in the relevant paragraph on firefoxmyths.com is the notion of "Firefox as a solution to all security problems" raised. I stand by my conclusion, that Firefox, in comparison to its primary competitor, Internet Explorer, can reasonably be considered "secure" as a web browser. I also suggest that it is a good method to minimize spyware installations, though I don't suggest that it is a complete spyware solution. I also disagree with the idea that the author's guide to securing Windows XP can give any user the "same level of protection" he has, as an uninformed user tends to be able to click "Yes" enough times to install any malware program. Additionally, Avant Browser (with the same level of security as Internet Explorer) has been recommended over Firefox. It should be noted that several IE exploits have existed (and been exploited) in the past allowing the silent installation of malware without user input, while this has not yet happened with Firefox, possibly due to its smaller user base. As things stand, I would recommend Firefox over Avant for just this reason, as history tends to repeat iteself. Finally, the author continues to suggest that "Firefox is incompatible with 10 - 15% of sites", rather than "10 - 15% sites are poorly coded and implement non-standard functionality only present in Internet Explorer", which I feel reflects the situation much better.
All true up until Tabbed Browsing (though the myth that IE7 "stole" Firefox's icon seems a bit ridiculous to me; I've never heard that myth, and I'd think most people who actually care about such things would know the real story). The rest of this section demands a more thorough debunking:
Tabbed Browsing: Claims that Opera only added "tabbed" browsing in 2000 per a Wikipedia article - the author clearly doesn't understand the difference between MDI and TDI. Also claims that Firefox was released in 2004 - it was released in 2002, albeit under a different name (Phoenix).
W3C Standards: Claims that Firefox has "incomplete" support for for many W3C standards, then claims that IE has "very good support (86%) for the most important web standard, HTML 4.01". Apart from the fact that this is a clear attempt to confuse a reader into thinking standards support in IE is better than in Firefox (far from it, IE doesn't even support position: fixed; in CSS..), claiming that HTML 4.01 is the "most important web standard" is laughable. It's seven years old, released in 1999, and the web has moved forward since then. While it is possible that most sites are written in HTML 4.01 (I have no statistics for this), I would say that the most important web standard is the current "version" of HTML, XHTML 1.1 (though this is a separate standard, it is very similar and is designed to replace HTML).
Update: The author claims that he does not intend to confuse readers into thinking that IE has superior standards compared to IE, therefore, I suggest the text be changed to reflect this. Despite the fact that it is "biased against IE", the original source for the information should still be linked to, and I'd suggest that it be indicated under 'notes' that Firefox has better support for all HTML-based web standards than IE. Additionally, the "source" link regarding Firefox's 'poor standards implementation' is broken.
W3C Standards define a Webpage: Here, the author just fails to understand the contextual meaning of the word "define". In this case, it means more or less that W3C standards outline the way a web page "should be", not define as in a dictionary definition.
Update: I was basing this on the Myth Heading, not the actual Myth itself, apparently. The real Myth is "A Site that doesn't conform to W3C Standards is not a Webpage". This seems more than a little obvious to me, but I'll accept that I was wrong here. Sort of.
Acid 2 Browser Test: The author claims that the Acid2 test tests "the features considered most important for the future of the web". Incorrect, the test is designed to demonstrate how the most poorly-supported features should work, not the most important ones. The most important ones are already implemented in most browsers (by and large, the only browser without support is Internet Explorer in most cases).
Update: The author claims that he is correct, but the only quote I was able to find on the Acid2 website he referred to was "It uses features that are not in common use yet, because of lack of support", which appears to support my argument.
Web Page Rendering: Claims that "Firefox is not 100% Internet Explorer and ActiveX compatible", and as a result will not render "web sites that depend on ActiveX or were only tested in Internet Explorer (which there are many)" correctly. If those sites had adhered to coding standards when they were created, they would work correctly in all major IE competitors (Opera, Firefox, Safari and others), but in many cases would have problems with IE. Most web designers know that trying to get IE to support your website can be a major hurdle after testing a design that works in all other "standards-compliant" browsers.
Update: Apparently, I'm just making excuses here, in that case, I would suggest that the text be reworded to accurately reflect the truth (as suggested previously): "10 - 15% of sites are coded poorly or using proprietary technology and as a result will only work correctly in Internet Explorer". I accept that 10 - 15% of sites "don't work" correctly in Firefox, but the problem is not with Firefox, it is with the sites.
Web Page Rendering Differences: Claims that "Firefox does not wait for the whole page to be rendered like IE" is a myth. Based on the other information quoted and linked, I'll assume the author means "Firefox progressively renders pages, unlike IE" or "Firefox does not wait for all markup to be downloaded before rendering, unlike IE", since what he's saying doesn't make sense (why exactly would the browser "wait" until it has finished rendering a page?). Here he says that IE offers support for progressive rendering in tables. Since any modern website design uses divs, not tables (tables-based layouts are an old hack left over from pre-CSS days), IE's progressive rendering is next to useless. (I'm not even sure if Firefox uses progressive rendering, to be honest, but in any case, it's a lot more noticeable in Opera than any other browser.)
Update: I concede defeat here too, in actuality, IE supports progressive rendering except with tables-based layouts (where there is only partial support). The confusing wording of the summary got me, and had I read the source more thoroughly, I would have understood what really happens. Anyway, I suggest that the summary be changed to what I said ("IE supports progressive rendering except with tables-based layouts (where there is only partial support)."), to make it more clear to the reader.
The author ends his article with a challenge:
Do you think there is a single argument that refutes a single fact on this page? Think again. The sources speak for themselves and the facts are irrefutable.He also claims that Firefox fanboys have "blindly react[ed] rather than calmly [thought]" when presented with said facts. I'm not a Firefox fanboy, as I said, I'm far from it, but I've tried to present a calmly thought-out response to this article, which is not only poorly researched in parts, but appears to be intentionally misleading in others. I'm tempted to suggest that the entire site is an ad for Avant Browser, which he recommends at the end since it includes IE's rendering engine for "99.99% website compatibility" and "all the newest features of other browsers" (such as "100% security", according to the Avant website). He also suggests that readers read his other "guides", like "XP Games" (where every game is "100% Freeware", it reads like a malware site) and "XP Media" (which ironically implores the reader to "Get Firefox with Google Toolbar for better browsing"). Ordinarily, I would have expected this kind of writing to be ignored, but since it seems to be getting a fair amount of attention, I've taken the time to debunk it and forward my response onto the author. Hopefully I'll be able to post back here confirming that he's seen the light and decided to correct all the misinformation on his website. To the author: I challenge you to come up with a reasonable rebuttal of the facts I've presented here, or otherwise modify your website to be a little less misleading about things.
Update: I've added Updates to most parts of this entry according to the comments below by Andrew K. - the author of the page. There are a few more things I'd like to respond to:
- I never suggested that the page wasn't researched or thought out correctly - however, I do feel that in many cases the writing is constructed in quite a misleading way which makes it feel very biased when read by someone who knows the subject matter reasonably well.
- I simply said that the "100% Freeware" comment on every game on the XP Games page makes the site read as if it's a malware site. "100% Legal", "100% Free" and such are all terms that I see on such sites all the time, and especially when things look like they have been copy-pasted all over the page, it loses the page a lot of credibility. I'd suggest that the repetition and "100%" be removed - there's no such thing as "90%" freeware, and it just makes the whole thing look a lot less suspect.