Copyright Michael Karbo, Denmark, Europe.

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    Chapter 20. IE or Mozilla

    At this moment of writing 95% of all Internet's users use Microsoft's browser Internet Explorer. Because of this it isn't strange that that the Internet's criminal forces focus on finding errors and holes in exactly this program. But there are good alternatives both for Internet Explorer and the related Outlook.

    Problems with Internet Explorer

    Internet Explorer is according to many experts basically a bad program. Back in the middle of the 1990s Microsoft came a little too late into the browser market, so they ended by buying a more or less homemade program from some students. This was quickly introduced as Internet Explorer and it a relatively short time of a few years Microsoft succeeded at winning the browser market. The competitor Netscape couldn't survive by selling the same sort of software that Microsoft could supply free of charge.

    In the next versions of Internet Explorer Microsoft chose to chain the program still more tightly to the program code in Windows itself. This interlacing has since developed into a big security problem for all, who use Windows and Internet Explorer.

    Microsoft has during the last three years found more than 150 security holes in the version of Internet Explorer (6), which accompanies Windows XP! Every one of the holes is patched and this has certainly not improved the browser as a whole.

    Figure 108. The browser Mozilla FireFox.


    Mozilla is a genuine open source product. There is an excellent browser and a brilliant mail program, which everyone can download free of charge at

    Mozilla is constructed in a completely different way than Internet Explorer and is much less open to attack. On top of this the program runs, I think, better and faster than the corresponding products from Microsoft. The latest browser from Mozilla is called FireFox. There is also an older version of Mozilla (version 1.7), which is also usable.

    Mozilla FireFox is a fast and elegant program, which is in many ways clearly superior to Internet Explorer. Among other things you can have several home pages open on each its own tab in the same browser window and this is really practical. Mozilla is also better at printing out, for example, articles from newspaper sites without errors.

    When you install Mozilla FireFox, the program imports bookmarks and passwords from Internet Explorer automatically. This is really smart and, you can, in fact, start browsing on your usual pages immediately. On top of this the function, which remembers passwords, is somewhat easier to use in Mozilla than in Internet Explorer.

    Mozilla Thunderbird

    Moxilla's e-mail program is called Thunderbird. The interface looks very much like the other mail programs such as Outlook, Netscape and Eudora, so there is no reason to be fearful of using it.

    Compared with Outlook Thunderbird has big advantages. The program is first and foremost less susceptible to virus attacks. It is also easier to install; the interface is simple and much more consequent than in Outlook, which for me seems to be rather chaotic.

    It is, for example, easier to install an e-mail account in Mozilla Thunderbird. The first time the program runs, a guide starts up, where you give your name, an e-mail address, names of the two servers for incoming and outgoing mail (typically of the type pop3 and smtp) and finally your username.

    You ought to have all this information on hand in a little text file stored (as earlier described) in the folder D:\Mail. Then a mail account in Mozilla Thunderbird can be established very quickly.

    It is also very easy to be clear about the settings for the account. The location of the data files (which according to my system are stored in the folder D:\Mail) and all the other settings are easily available in one big dialog box called Account Settings. It really is a relief to be able to work with such a straightforward program as Mozilla Thunderbird. Especially if you are used to the totally spaghetti sort of system of dialog boxes in Microsoft's mail program Outlook.

    Figure 109. There is access to all the settings from this quite logically constructed dialog box.

    The first time you log in to the account, the access code is typed in. The Password Manager in Mozilla Thunderbird remembers this:

    After this the program works very well. It can also import old mail from Outlook's data files, if this is desirable. In my case I took advantage of my switchover to Mozilla Thunderbird to start all over with mail in a new folder structure. But all my old mail is still available in Outlook and can be opened if this is required.

    Figure 110.The interface in Mozilla Thunderbird is plain sailing.

    Spam training

    Mozilla Thunderbird has a very fine tool for protection against spam (undesirable e-mail). The program has to, you see, be taught in how to recognise spam before it can start. Every time mail arrives which looks like spam, it is marked as junk mail. You can see this in a grey line at the top of the mail window:

    If a message is really spam, then you just delete it. If not, then it is marked as Not Junk:

    Correspondingly the spam, which Mozilla Thunderbird doesn't catch, has to be marked as Junk.

    When you have run this manual system for a couple of weeks, then you can let it run automatically. The program will delete all the spam on the basis of the filtering, you have made in the previous period. It works very well!

    Figure 111. Junk Control in Mozilla Thunderbird looks after spam.

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