Charles Moore's Mailbag

Mozilla for the Classic Mac OS and More Reasons Mac Users Still Use IE

Charles Moore - 2004.03.29 - Tip Jar

WaMCom, Mozilla for OS 9

From N. Kelly

Have you looked at the WaMCom browser? It is a project where someone took the last compatible source of Mozilla 1.3.1 and finished it for OS 9.

Nicholas Kelly

Hi Nicholas,

Read on. I have not tried WaMCom, although it sounds like an excellent solution for OS 9 users. I am pretty much totally switched to OS X these stays, and I use iCab backed up by old Netscape 4.8 for what surfing I do in OS 9. However, as I noted in the article, if I were still using OS 9 for day to day computing, I would definitely have Mozilla (or WaMCom), on hand. (Download WaMCom here.)

Charles

IE v. Mozilla (WaMCom)

From Vince

Charles,

I enjoyed your recent column about web browsers for the Mac. Include me as another conservative with a healthy disrespect for Microsoft. We are taught in American schools about the value of markets, but then we turn around and support a monopoly - the antithesis of a market. Please continue to remind people of the more obvious advantages of the Mac. I wish I could do more, but fighting a monopoly seems like a quixotic task. I remain flabbergasted at the recent story about the University of Chicago IT department.

Regardless, I want to eliminate Microsoft from my Mac. After reading recommendations on the MacFixIt forums, I downloaded the WaMCom version of Mozilla (1.3.1) from wamcom.org and found it to be the fastest browser available for Mac OS 9 (I use 9.2.1 exclusively, waiting for X to get better). This is especially true if you turn off Flash, cookies, and JavaScript. (Download WaMCom here.)

The problem is, for some sites I need cookies and JavaScript. It would be nice if a browser included the option to "Reject all cookies except for the following sites" or "Accept cookies only from the following sites." Occasionally I use iCab, but I find it to be quite a bit slower than either Mozilla or IE. So I use IE 5 as my "cookies-on, JavaScript-on" browser when I make purchases, when the site demands it, or otherwise want to use a site that saves my preferences such as Amazon or Google. The rest of the time, I use Mozilla.

To sum up my opinions of Mozilla 1.3.1:

Pros: fast, stable, faster caching than IE when returning to a page; great ad blocking, popup blocking, and image blocking; allows me to read everything in Verdana 12; and has a decent mail app that on my system has replaced Outlook Express.

Cons: Development seems to have stopped, slow startup, cosmetic problems such as pulldown menu peculiarities and browser preferences that don't remember where you last visited (e.g. always having to flip the Appearance triangle even though I was just there), unorthodox history handling, poor URL autocomplete (esp. compared to IE); and the inability to have a line of bookmark folders on the personal toolbar (like IE allows). I like having my bookmark folders spread horizontally across the tool bar.

One more thing. Neither my "Copy to Tex-Edit" contextual menu nor my "Send to Download Deputy" contextual menu works in Mozilla, but they do in IE, and I use both almost every day via FinderPop.

In fact, if I could use my contextual menu items with Mozilla, I would be tempted to delete IE from my Mac, thus making it totally Microsoft free.

Hi Vince,

Thanks for the report on WaMCom. Mozilla (especially OS X FireFox) is the fastest browser for the Mac in my experience. I just spent a week with Mozilla 1.7b, and it rocks. You're correct that Mozilla development for the classic Mac OS has ceased.

I use iCab for other reasons than raw speed, but then I usually have three or four browsers up and running (none of them IE ;-) ).

Charles

Why Classic Mac Users Still Surf with Internet Explorer

From: Ken Watanabe

Charles,

Regarding "things are not so flush on the classic Mac OS side, where browser development has a essentially ground to a halt except for iCab."

You missed one choice. I'm not surprised because it is relatively unknown. There is an "unofficial" version of Mozilla (based on version 1.3.1 code) maintained by wamcom.org. You can read why this variant exists at the developer's website. The important thing is that there is a binary for the classic Mac OS (as well as for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux).

The last "official" Mozilla to support classic Mac OS was version 1.2.1. The last Netscape to support classic Mac OS was based on Mozilla 1.0.2. So WaMCom is (as far as I know) the latest version of Mozilla available for the classic Mac OS (8.6 through 9.2). From my experience, it is more refined and reliable than any of the Mozilla "betas" I have tried. It is my default browser.

I hope the developer (I think it's mostly a one-person operation) continues on with a further updated version of WaMCom based on a later Mozilla code base.

To answer your question "Why Are Mac Users Still Surfing with Internet Explorer?" Because most users (even Mac users) don't care about the trying the latest and greatest. If it works, they'll keep using it. It may have its faults, but IE is guaranteed to be the most compatible with websites just by the fact that it is the most common browser by far.

Other browsers have to adapt to the changing web. IE is unique in that websites will (generally) work hard to ensure IE is well supported. It the long run, this dependence on IE (now that it is mostly unchanging) may hinder WWW evolution.

- Ken Watanabe

Hi Ken,

Thanks for another vote of confidence for WaMCom.

I agree with your comments. Personally, I find I'm downloading a new browser version every couple of weeks or so, and I try to keep current with what's happening in all the OS X browsers at least.

I rarely (like virtually never) run into a website that at least one of Mozilla/FireFox, Safari, or iCab can't handle.

Heck, dependence on Microsoft threatens the entire IT evolution.

Charles

Mac Users Still Using IE

From Paul O'Keefe

Mr. Moore,

Many Mac users are still using Internet Explorer as their browser for the simple reason that many user are still using OS 9 or below. As you say, development for [classic] Mac OS browsers has all but stalled.

It's all about the bookmarks. I'm using Panther at home, but I haven't really switched to Safari, because there is no real easy way to move my tons of bookmarks from IE. You can't import them on the fly. The only time Safari says it imports IE bookmarks is during an upgrade or system install.

I suppose I could reinstall Safari on my system, and then it would recognize the IE bookmarks I imported from OS 9's IE to the OS X IE beforehand. I'll try that out, but Apple should make it easier to import bookmarks.

Paul O'Keefe, BDes

Hi Paul,

You can "import" IE Favorites to iCab by simply copying the Favorites.html document from wherever it resides in the IE preferences, renaming it Hotlist.html, and dragging it into the iCab preferences folder.

Gives you at least one more option.

Charles

IE and Mac Users

From Thomas Babb & Evelyn Kutz

Some of us have no choice. I mostly use my Macs for online trading, and the brokers offer no choice as to browser that will work on the sites. I have been told to buy a Windows machine for better compatibility.

Tom Babb

Hi Tom,

As I said in the article, "I suppose there is the odd website that refuses to work with anything but IE."

Brain dead, Microsoft acolyte brokers! (IMHO ;-) )

Keep hanging in there.

Charles

Why IE?

From Eric Strobel

Charles,

With me, I've not upgraded from 10.2.4 yet, so I'd be limited to Safari 1.0. I honestly don't know if that version would be an improvement over IE. As for Netscape/Mozilla and their ilk, last time I tried one of these (albeit on OS 9) it was a dismal failure. Buggier by far than the old NS 4.7.x versions. Many (I daresay most) web pages refused to load without requiring literally dozens of attempts.

Although the OS X versions of these may work better - and in fact, I've got NS 7.1 on here, and it is at least adequate for those pages that claim to need Netscape - I refuse to trust anything Netscape or that has the taint of Netscape, given their consistent history of major bugs over the years.

I do keep iCab around as a backup as well, but aside from the better download manager, it's still a little rough around the edges compared to IE. I thought one had to pay for OmniWeb, which rules it out for me. I've not yet tried Opera.

Oh, and I've tried tabbed browsing and fail to see what the big deal is. I suppose it's better if you only keep a few pages open, but I routinely go down through one or two news sites and will very quickly be up to 20 windows open (via CMD-SHIFT-CLICKing the links). The tabbed interface just doesn't handle that well. So, no, tabs are definitely not the best thing since sliced bread. They represent (IMHO) a minor, and not necessarily all that useful, UI improvement.

Mind you, when I get 'round to upgrading to Panther, I'll be giving Safari a fair shake. And who knows, I may even give FireFox a try at some point. But for now, IE, as old as it is, is pretty much the only good alternative for me. Plus, having used it for so many years, it's familiar and was one less jarringly new thing when I got this eMac and decided to make the transition to OS X.

So, hopefully, I've answered 'why IE?', at least from my perspective.

- Eric

Hi Eric,

You really owe it to yourself to try an up-to-date version of the Mozilla browsers. If you're after stability and polish, go for Mozilla 1.6 or the 1.7 beta (much faster). For raw speed, go for FireFox (not bad for stability either). Both will work with your current system.

Gotta disagree about tabbed browsing. I absolutely can't stand to use a browser without it anymore. If I run out of practical tab space I just open another window.

Charles

Netscape 7

From R. Friede

Hi Charles,

I clicked on the Netscape link in your excellent anti-IE piece and found several English versions of NS 7. What's the difference between the US version and the Canadian version in this case? Kinda odd, eh?

Thx,
Bob Friede

Hi Bob,

I saw that too and wondered about it, but I haven't a clue what the difference is.

Charles

Internet Explorer

From Kit Archie

There is just one reason why [IE] stays in my application folder: Print preview, which gives me the ability to see and to manipulate a document before you print it. No other browser has this feature! There are many times when I don't care to print all the garbage that you might get when printing from the Web.

Regards C. Archie

Hi Kit,

In that context you have a point. One area that Microsoft applications do seem to excel at is printing. I very rarely print anything to hard copy, so it's not an issue for me, but I can see that it would be a convenience to use a browser that supported Print Preview if you use that feature a lot.

Something for the other browser developers to address.

Charles

Why Still Surfing with Internet Explorer?

From Siu-Fai Tam

Hi Charles,

The answer is simple, at least for me. Try configuring a US Robotic router, Linksys VPN, and other devices, and you will find that you can do about 90% of the configuration - but not 100% - unless you are using IE. This hampers the usability of a Mac as an admin tool in a mixed environment.

So far I have been able to get away with using the old version of IE on my Mac, but I suspect the day will come when IE 6 or higher is required. That will force me to use Virtual PC to do configurations - or use a PC. Not the optimal solution. Ideally the manufacturers of these devices can fix their firmware so that IE is not required, but I fear there is no incentive for them to do so. That means Safari and other browsers will have to step up to bat. This is important if you are doing this at a professional level, but I can see that people with such devices at home will have the same problem. Often a person will think that the device doesn't work, when in fact it's the fault of the browser.

Recently, I started using a piece of software called 'BeyondTV' for Windows on a stand alone PC. It's a TiVo-like software that has the ability to setup recording, etc. via a web interface. There is sadly nothing like it for the Mac, but I digress. Nothing but IE seems to work completely with the web interface. Again, it's mostly there with Safari and a bit better with Firefox.

If it's just viewing a page on a website, then it may not be a big deal, but when it comes to configuring something, it becomes a big deal when it doesn't work.

Anyway, here are just a few example that will cause problems for someone using a Mac. It's entirely possible that my situation is unique, but somehow I don't think so.

Thanks, for your time,
Siu-Fai

Hi Siu-Fai,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Indeed, the clock is running down on the Mac version of IE. If site and software developers want Mac users' business, they will have to step up to the plate, and desktop Linux is burgeoning as well (with no IE version for Linux).

Charles


Letters sent may be published at our discretion. Email addresses will not be published unless requested. If you prefer that your message not be published, mark it "not for publication." Letters may be edited for length, context, and to match house style.

Join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or Google+, or subscribe to our RSS news feed

Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

Links for the Day

Recent Content

About LEM Support Usage Privacy Contact

Custom Search

Follow Low End Mac on Twitter
Join Low End Mac on Facebook

Favorite Sites

MacSurfer
Cult of Mac
Shrine of Apple
MacInTouch
MyAppleMenu
InfoMac
The Mac Observer
Accelerate Your Mac
RetroMacCast
The Vintage Mac Museum
Deal Brothers
DealMac
Mac2Sell
Mac Driver Museum
JAG's House
System 6 Heaven
System 7 Today
the pickle's Low-End Mac FAQ

Affiliates

Amazon.com
The iTunes Store
PC Connection Express
Macgo Blu-ray Player
Parallels Desktop for Mac
eBay

Low End Mac's Amazon.com store

Advertise

Open Link