Bye Bye, Explorer

UPDATE JULY 14, 2004: The information in this article is now largely our of date. I’ve changed a lot of things, after much experimentation and exasperation. Find out what I’m using now. Read: Feed Readers: What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been.

(Original article…)
I’ve finally abandoned Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web browser altogether in my Internet use. yeah, it was convenient for awhile – until it got buggy on me and kept crashing. It’s also a spyware magnet, which is a hassle. But what recently pushed me over the edge was this pointed weblog entry by Gary Lawrence Murphy: How to use MSIE Online: Don’t. See also this article from SpywareInfo.

Result: I’m now a very happy and dedicated user of Mozilla’s Firefox browser.

One issue in abandoning Explorer is my webfeed reader. For a while now, my favorite feed reader has been FeedDemon – mainly because I love the interface. The default embedded Web browser that comes with FeedDemon is Explorer. This means that when I click on a feed item, FeedDemon’s preview panel uses Explorer to display the results, thus exposing me to all of Explorers bugs and vulnerabilities.

If you use FeedDemon, here’s how you can change that…

  1. In FeedDemon, under the Tools menu, select Options
  2. In the options window that pops up, select the Browsing tab.
  3. Check the option Open external links in default Web browser instead of FeedDemon.

In short, you’re still supposed to have Explorer installed on you machine under the system requirements for FeedDemon – but you don’t have to keep relying on it.

This is good news for me, because for a few days there I’d misunderstood that. I’d thought that Explorer was the only embedded browser option for FeedDemon, so I switched to Sauce Reader and imported all my feed subscriptions into it. I don’t regret that. Sauce Reader works well, it has a pretty good three-pane interface, and (unlike FeedDemon) it’s free. Plus, it immediately detected my default browser (Firefox) and started using that, rather than resorting to Explorer against my wishes. However, I still prefer FeedDemon’s interface over Sauce Reader’s. To me, FeedDemon is easier on the eye and more user-friendly and intuitive. In comparison, Sauce Reader looks cramped.

Just my opinion. Ultimately, those differences are slight, so I’d heartly recommend both feed readers if you need a good one that runs in Windows.

…But regardless of which feed reader you choose, please do your computer a favor and ditch Explorer. It’s gotten to be more trouble than it’s worth, and Microsoft is doing nothing to improve it.