Comparing Firefox Browser with Microsoft Internet Explorer

While Microsoft’s Internet Explorer still comes pre-installed on most Windows-based PCs, clearly Microsoft would prefer you to use their Edge browser, which is set as the default when you purchase.

Microsoft discontinued its Internet Explorer brand several years ago, in favor of its updated Edge browser for Windows 10. However, slow adoption for Edge created room for Internet Explorer to live on, mainly for business compatibility reasons.

Here we’ll compare our Firefox Browser with Internet Explorer in terms of security, utility, and portability. We’ll help you understand the differences between how a modern browser like Firefox that adheres to web standards compares with the browser you may be using for business purposes or out of old habits that die hard.

Security and Privacy

Security and Privacy Firefox Internet Explorer
Private Browsing mode Yes Yes
Blocks third-party tracking cookies Yes Yes
Blocks cryptomining scripts Yes No
Blocks social trackers Yes No

If you haven’t moved on from using Internet Explorer, the security risk factor alone should be enough to convince you. Microsoft’s own security chief has warned millions of people who continue to use Internet Explorer as their main web browser that they are placing themselves in “peril.”

Microsoft is no longer supporting new development for Internet Explorer, which means security concerns are rampant. Microsoft openly acknowledges the fact that vulnerabilities exist within basically every version of Internet Explorer.

So what’s the solution if your company is running legacy apps that only work on Internet Explorer? Our best advice is, don’t mix business with pleasure. We actually recommend use of the Legacy Browser Support extension for Windows. This extension lets users automatically open a predefined set of URLs in Internet Explorer and switch back to Firefox when navigating to a different domain.

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Utility

Utility Firefox Internet Explorer
Autoplay blocking Yes No
Tab browsing Yes Yes
Bookmark manager Yes Yes
Automatically fills out forms Yes Yes
Search engine options Yes Yes
Text to speech Yes Yes
Reader mode Yes Yes
Spell checking Yes Yes
Web extensions/Add-ons Yes Yes
In-browser screenshot tool Yes No

Alarmingly, 4 to 5% of all desktop web traffic came through Internet Explorer as recently as 2019. That might not seem like a lot, but in reality it means millions of people are being served a poor internet experience with slow loading and rendering times, pages that won’t display properly — all on top of the security issues already discussed.

Really the only reasons to use Internet Explorer are for developers to test what their sites look like on an older browser or if a company has business-critical apps that only work with the Internet Explorer browser.

On the other end of the spectrum, Firefox is one of the most frequently updated browsers, and comes loaded with lots of useful and interesting features, like Pocket that suggests interesting content every time you open a new tab. Our unified search and web address bar, or Quantum Bar as we call it, also gives you suggestions based on your existing bookmarks and tags, history, open tabs and popular searches. And with a free Firefox account you also get access to all your settings and our other Firefox products on any device simply by signing in. Plus the peace of mind of knowing your browser is proactively working to protect your personal data.

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Portability

Portability Firefox Internet Explorer
OS availability Yes No
Mobile OS availability Yes No
Syncs with mobile Yes No
Password management Yes Yes
Master Password Yes No

As Microsoft has made the move to sunset the Internet Explorer browser, it no longer supports any version for iOS, and has never been available for Android. Which means unless you’re running a Windows-based laptop or desktop, you won’t have access to your bookmarks, browsing history, saved passwords, and other information that modern browsers sync across devices.

Firefox works on any platform, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS. Which also means you can sync all your information across platforms. So if you’re browsing on a Windows-based laptop, you can pick up where you left off when you move to browsing on your iPhone or Android device. This convenience should come standard with any modern web browser, and is sorely lacking with Internet Explorer.

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Overall Assessment

There was a time not so long ago where Internet Explorer was the most popular and widely used browser in the world. Times have changed and so has technology, but unfortunately Internet Explorer has pretty much stayed the same. Microsoft itself openly implores users to stop using Internet Explorer and instead switch to their newer Chromium-based Edge browser.

Our opinion is just to go with a trusted, private browser with a track record of delivering a great experience across devices. In a head-to-head comparison, it’s really no contest at all. Firefox is hands down the winner across all assessment categories. If you do find yourself at Nana’s house firing up Internet Explorer, maybe you want to do Nana a favor and download Firefox for her.

The comparisons made here were done so across browser release versions as follows:
Firefox (76) | Internet Explorer (11)
This page updated semi-quarterly to reflect latest versioning and may not always reflect latest updates.