You need so many browsers because none of them is perfect. And, Chrome comes closer to perfection than Firefox does. Since Google released the Chrome browser, Linux users have converted to it by the hundreds of thousands. Although Firefox claims millions of downloads, you can bet that its usage is not close to the number of downloads.
Maybe you’ve seen stories declaring, as Keir Thomas did on this blog last year, that Firefox is dead while Chrome looks increasingly like a better choice. But why is Firefox taking all this abuse? In short, because its alleged strengths are its greatest weaknesses.
Firefox fans tout the browser’s use of extensions, or add-ons, as one of its many boastworthy features, but if you’ve ever connected to a site that uses some new Web feature that Firefox doesn’t support, you’re out of luck. Those same extensions often break other extensions on the way in during installation.
Further, why should a user constantly download and install extensions for such common Web gadgetry as Flash or PDF? Why aren’t those extensions included by default if their inclusion is necessary for a rich Web experience?
How often has Firefox notified you at startup that there are updates for one or more of your extensions that result in no updates, or that upon updating, you’ll have to restart your browser only to find that the extension update broke your browser. This exercise is time-consuming and tedious. It’s almost as bad as patching and rebooting a Windows system. You find that simply opening your browser to check stock prices becomes so involved that you forget why you originally opened it.
But Firefox extensions aren’t the only problem. Firefox is also so notoriously slow that on older systems, it’s almost unusable or it takes so long to open that you find yourself clicking the icon multiple times, thinking that your original launch didn’t take for some reason.
Chrome, however, is usable and responsive. Now you understand why Firefox might not survive the browser wars. Its extension model is annoying to use, it’s slow on older systems, it’s slower than Chrome on any system, and its extensions break other extensions.
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