Although there are numerous popup-blocking add-ons for Internet Explorer, Mozilla has taken it one step further: popup-blocking capability is built into the browser (see Figure 1
). It's not an afterthought. If you have some sort of strange popup ad fetish or you visit sites that use popups for necessary functionality, you can turn the feature off (even for individual sites), but personally, I'm only sorry that the popup blocker doesn't also make the person responsible for the popup ad turn into a toad or something equally unpleasant.
Popup blocking may not be a sufficiently persuasive reason to switch browsers, but tabbed browsing is a major advance.
|Figure 1. The Options Dialog: The Options dialog lets you turn popup-blocking on or off, and even lets you customize the feature for individual sites.
The need to run more than one application at a time led the single-program-only DOS world to adopt Windows. The need to switch between programs easily led to that familiar row of buttons on the Windows taskbar. In the same vein, users' increasing need to have more than one browser window open and have an easy way to switch between them has sparked Mozilla's tabbed browsing metaphor.
Using IE, if you want to keep your current browser instance where it is and browse to a different site in a new instance, you open another copy of the browser, which adds a button to your taskbar. That's great, but repeat this several times and your taskbar quickly fills up with increasingly tiny buttons, all unhelpfully displaying the IE logo. If you want to see what's in those windows later, you're back to the Alt-TAB key to toggle among the open browsers.
Using Mozilla Firebird, however, you can open multiple browsers as tabbed windows within the single main browser window (see Figure 2). This is not only a convenient way of moving between browser instances but it does you the great service of cleaning up your Windows taskbar by moving those tiny browser buttons off the taskbar and into the tab area of the browser. The Firebird tab bar has a context menu that lets you delete, reload, and add tabs. You can open any URL in a new tab by holding the Ctrl key while clicking the link. You can create a new tab from any open page by dragging the URL onto the tab area. It's hard to grasp the increased productivity inherent in this feature until you've tried it.