Readers respond to Firefox column

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Goodbye, Computerworld

It is totally unbelievable to read your article on Firefox, that businesses must be cautious on using Firefox because it lacks ActiveX!

Well, what do I say? I am by no means a Firefox advocate. But can it be that this article -- or rather, Micheal Gartenberg -- is another of the Microsoft-sponsored fear, uncertainty and doubt-spreading items? It looks very much like it.

Isn't it ActiveX that allows complete access to a computer through the Web browser? Isn't ActiveX the one most critical software component that, yes, might have many advantages, but in fact can do real harm at the same time if abused? Isn't it true that security issues on behalf of ActiveX are so tremendous, many IT departments disable any ActiveX controls altogether in their corporate networks? Why, after all, is there a directive to disable ActiveX altogether on all German government computers (and probably, too, in other countries around the world)?

Basically, sites that "require" ActiveX could have been built using much better technologies. And also, it is not so widely in use as Microsoft might want it to look. Is your online banking ActiveX-driven? Probably not. Bank of America hasn't got it. I know of no German or European bank that deploys it on their servers.

It is a total shame that obviously Computerworld has now taken to printing any open-source FUD that comes its way without any second thought.

We strongly consider canceling any subscription and any news-seller buying of any IDG title from now on, and we strongly question Michael Gartenberg's real intention with this article. As we are a marketing company, we also consider advising our customers not to book ads any more in IDG titles as these start to seriously lack in journalistic independence.

It is really sad. Goodbye, Computerworld. Together with me, I guess many will turn their back on you after this jaw-dropping article. Pamela Jones has spread it on Groklaw. Others will too.

I am really really disappointed.

-- Stephan Uebelhor
Munich, Germany

Maturity will make Firefox business-suitable

Rubbish, rubbish.

Microsoft had many golden opportunities to enhance its Internet Explorer, but instead it kept dangling new products and leaving the user community stranded with half-cooked products. Microsoft over the lifetime of its IE has released over two dozen Band-Aid fixes. Come on. Firefox is a new product, but it has proved to have great immunity against the viral infections that plagued IE. ActiveX is Microsoft's closed-source corset and has been the conduit for all the misery and malware on the Internet. As Firefox matures and gets more robust, it will be suitable for business environments. Microsoft, instead of fighting Firefox and Google, should promote their interoperability with Windows and Longhorn. That's what the consumers hope for.
-- Rocky Termanini
VP of technology
Merit International Security Consultants

Relying on ActiveX is a big blunder

I read with interest and a bit of laughter the story on the Firefox browser and how companies must exercise caution when utilizing this browser.

First of all, the ability to not run ActiveX is a big plus, in my book. If your enterprise application relies on an ActiveX control, you're committing a very serious blunder and doing yourself a large disservice.

ActiveX controls have a long history of being the impetus for security breaches.

Secondly, the author would do well to remember that not everyone uses Microsoft on the client desktop. Many companies have already converted to running Linux on the client desktop, with phenomenal results as it relates to performance, flexibility and security. There is a reason why the NSA uses Linux as its OS of choice to demonstrate its security model.

Another plus is that because Firefox runs just fine on Windows, Linux, FreeBSD and many other operating systems, training becomes a nonissue.

Please don't chalk it up to market share, either. Microsoft's Web server market share is less than half that of the Apache Web server, yet Apache has less security issues. (Web servers are what browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer talk to when they're viewing Web pages.)

If your Web server is insecure, chances of your Web viewing experience becoming insecure have also increased.

At least it was amusing.

-- Nick

Completely lame

I think the reasons for Michael Gartenberg's warning against using Firefox are completely lame. They run, roughly:

  1. We've been conned into committing to Internet Explorer because it is cheap and available.

  2. The development frameworks Microsoft have convinced us to use, ActiveX and .Net, only really run using Internet Explorer.

Despite innumerable security holes in Internet Explorer, we have tied ourselves so closely to Internet Explorer that we have dug ourselves a hole we cannot get out of.

Sorry, Michael, but I use Internet Explorer only when I have to, when I access those lame applications that say I must. Every other time I surf the 'Net, access applications or anything else for that matter, I use Netscape until I can't. That isn't often.

The excuse that budgets won't allow applications to be redeveloped is also lame. How many times over the years have we as professionals supported legacy tools as we phase in newer, more secure, more robust tools? Users are constantly bringing in new technologies and demanding that we support them; often it's upper management bringing these things in.

So, would supporting two Web browsers be any different?

-- James W. Hanon

Computerworld loses credibility

I am amazed that a publication of your reputation would print such an ill-informed article. The biggest reason Windows and Internet Explorer have so many security problems is directly related to how Microsoft has elected to "integrate" IE into the OS, and because of the ActiveX code! So that is exactly why businesses should not use Internet Explorer. IE allows viruses and other malicious software to be planted on your computer.

The credibility of Computerworld has just dropped significantly!

-- No name provided

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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