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The Netscape program was originally a for-fee package, costing about $49 per customer; it failed and was acquired by AOL after Microsoft offered an equivalent browser called "Internet Explorer" *for free* with the Windows 98 operating system. Now, 8 years and several hundred million dollars of legal fees later, Mozilla is back with a new innovation: Firefox.
Internet Explorer, or "IE", was significantly enhanced and is now integral to the Microsoft Operating Systems such as Windows XP. However, IE contains a number of features that make access to data on the Internet "seamless", that is, without a lot of step-by-step conversions for the end user - but it has integrated some features that have left it vulnerable to a the dark side of the Internet in the last few years - leading to an invasion of "pop-ups", "spyware", and otherwise "hijacking" of the IE browser. (Hijacking consists of exploiting features of IE to allow a website to take over your browser settings, changing the home page and simultaneously installing spyware; this is a fairly difficult task for the average user to fix and has provided a whole new 3rd party market for computer consultants who clean up the mess.)
Firefox is an "Open Source" (i.e., free) software program that is compatible with Microsoft IE - but blocks pop-ups and is not as vulnerable to the exploits of spyware and browser hijacking. Spyware uses almost an identical user interface (i.e., same menus, same toolbar) as IE, and also allows you to import your IE settings. Firefox can run as an alternate browser, or it can become the "default" browser when it is called from the Desktop.
To find out more about Firefox, go to www.mozilla.org/products/firefox, read about the product, or click "Download" to obtain a copy and try it out.
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