Proving that Microsoft doesn't have a lock on desktop software, the open source software organization Mozilla Foundation released version 1.0 of Firefox in November 2004. Due in part to an array of innovative features—and to the profusion of negative publicity surrounding Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE)—Firefox quickly grabbed about 6 percent of the browser market from IE, an impressive feat considering that IE itself upstaged the once dominant Netscape Navigator to take over the browser market. Here are the 10 most tempting features of the Mozilla Firefox 1.0 Web browser.

10. Small download—Weighing in at just over 4.5MB, Mozilla Firefox is a lightweight application that you can download (http://www.mozilla.com) and install in just a few minutes, even over a slow connection. The installation doesn't affect IE, and Firefox can run alongside IE with no problems.

9. Importation of all your IE settings—If you're like me, you've populated your Favorites list with a diverse array of Web sites, and the thought of losing them would be a big stumbling block to using another browser. Upon installation, Firefox can optionally import your saved IE Favorites, history, and cookies, making them immediately available in the new browser.

8. Pop-up blocking—Microsoft added the ability to block pop-ups to the Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) version of IE, but pop-up blocking is absent in all earlier versions. Firefox contains a built-in pop-up blocker and can run on virtually all 32-bit versions of Windows. (There are also versions of Firefox for Apple Computer's Macintosh and for Linux.)

7. No ActiveX controls—One of IE's most exploited vulnerabilities is its support for ActiveX controls. Powerful, but too easily misused, ActiveX controls aren't supported in Firefox. Consequently, some sites, such as Windows Update, don't work with Firefox. In exchange, however, you get a more secure Web browsing environment.

6. Plug-in architecture—You can enhance Firefox's functionality by using plug-ins. The list of available plug-ins is extensive and includes ad blockers, Really Simple Syndication (RSS) readers, a bandwidth tester, and image and text copy functions. You can find the list of Firefox plug-ins at http://extension
room.mozdev.org/main.php/Firefox.

5. Live bookmark—Firefox's live bookmark feature lets you view RSS feeds and blog headlines in the Bookmarks toolbar or the Bookmarks menu, letting you keep abreast of the most recent activity on the sites that interest you.

4. Integrated Web page search—Firefox makes searching for content on a Web page easier than IE does. Unlike the IE Find dialog box, which covers a portion of the browser screen, the Firefox Find function (Ctrl+F) shows up near the status bar at the bottom of the browser and doesn't take up any page real estate.

3. Integrated Google search—Instead of explicitly requiring you to redirect your browser to Google or open up a search window, Firefox provides a Google search box to the immediate right of the URL address box. Simply type your search string in the box and press Enter to launch Google. Although Google is the default search engine for this feature, Firefox can also launch searches using Yahoo!, eBay, Amazon, and other engines.

2. Tabbed browser pages—One feature you'll quickly get used to is the tabbed browser pages. Firefox lets you have multiple tabbed browser pages active, with each page on its own tab. This approach to browsing lets you easily keep track of and switch between multiple Web sites without having to open a host of different windows.

1. No IE vulnerabilities—Although all the new features are significant, one of the most compelling reasons behind many users' move to Firefox is to escape the vulnerabilities that have been exposed in IE. This isn't to say that Firefox is necessarily more secure than IE—just that it has a different set of vulnerabilities. The fact that it's not a Microsoft product and has a smaller market share makes Firefox a less appealing target to hackers.