A recent study said that 81% of computer users had changed their web surfing habits in order to avoid spyware and malware. My buddy, Beebear replied ‘And the other 19% are AOL users.’

Taken at face value, that number seems to be a little too high. I agree, that just about everyone I know has changed their browsing habits to avoid spyware. All the Mac users I know told me ‘I haven’t touched IE since OS 10.2.’ I suspect Ipstenit was a bit of hold out, but when I upgraded her to OS 10.3, I took IE off her computer. She was a Netscape Fan, and never liked IE in the first place.

The browser wars, though, really are a peculiar place. Here’s IE, the most prolific browser known to man (that works better if you say it in a booming ‘g-d’ voice), and it sucks donkey balls. The GUI is acceptable. It loads pages, it makes HTML look decent. What more could a person want? Well, let’s look at Safari, which is my Macintosh browser of choice.

1. Spell Check.

I have an already included spell check tool, so when I post my blog, I can right-click and correct typos. Also, the tool is tied into my system wide dictionary, so everything that uses it knows ‘Ipstenu’ and ‘blog’ are real words, thanks. There’s a tool called IE Spell that can do this for IE, but it’s not exactly the same. The Mac one can be set to remain on and it’ll underline in red squiggly lines the unknown/misspelled words. Just like Word. Hmm. And IE is missing this?

2. Easy Searching

I have a search field on my menu bar. I can type in ‘The life cycle of documentation,’ hit enter, and away I go. Google has a toolbar you can add in to IE and get this done, but again. It’s built in on the Mac.

3. Tabbed browsing

One window, six websites. Thank you and good night. Supposedly IE 7 will include this, but reading the IE blog off MSDN leads me to think it’ll be pretty basic. They suggest a couple third party apps that can put in tabbed browsing on IE 6, but one is $15 and the other is free but appears to be it’s own application (that is, a new browser).

4. Popup Blocker

I hate popups. I despise them with the fiery passion of a thousand burning nuns. Okay? Popups, popunders, and similar IN YOUR FACE advert scams piss me off. They need to die. Safari? Menu bar, Safari, Popup Blocker. Click, done. IE? Download something like Google’s toolbar and then you can have it.

Of course, Microsoft sees all this and says ‘Look at how expandable our browser is!’ To a point they’re right. I like IE because you can add on to it. The problem is the items I want to add on should already be there. Microsoft’s fatal flaw right now is complicity. They assume that people who are using IE aren’t going to be buggered to change their habits and get a new browser.

Microsoft needs to look at that 81%.

And before you say Apples/Oranges about the Safari thing, with the exception of the spell check, Firefox does all that too. Firefox also has an easy to implement spell check, and yes, I use Firefox on my Windows PC, and IE only when I have to.

Is Microsoft going to ‘lose’? Eventually, maybe, possibly. It’s hard to say. Do I care? Not as much as you might think. I love Macintosh because it works for me. It lets me work without muss or fuss and it lets me geek when I want to. That’s really all I want with a computer. I do like certain things about Windows. I like the squareness of it, sometimes. It’s obvious that my Windows Machine is to get the job done. But it’s John Wayne. My Macintosh is ‘How can I help you?’ Polite, well groomed, funny. It’s the Fab 5 from Queer Eye.

Neither one is better than the other, any more than one cell phone is better than another. They all have different functions, and their form is best suited to the user. I think custom PCs should be the way to go, for the users. Make a PC the way someone wants to use it, and they know where to come for fish! I mean, they’ll be likely to come back.

As for Apple? Well. I love them, I use them, and my Mac is me beloved. I prefer the way it’s handles pop-up alerts. I like being able to hide the geeky UNIX underpants and I like being able to access said panties. I don’t think it’s perfect. Apple’s making a push against Office, with Pages, but frankly after using Pages for a month, I’ve switched back to Word.

The perfect world for me is an OS that can run anything I need (preferably made by Mac) and my resultant documents/output is compatible with everyone I need to work with.

Hey, wait … I have that with my Macintosh.

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