How would you feel if your organization forbade you from using Firefox?

In: Mozilla

24 Dec 2004

Remember I mentioned Vanessa Tan who had an IE-only policy at work? Now, the policy is official and an unbendable rule (my understanding was that Vanessa was able to use it somehow, before). Read her farewell to Firefox.

Much has been sacrificed in the name of security.

Of course, that bit is debatable (because IE is intrinsically insecure, though Firefox is not without its problems, as its security has been called into question recently). I shan’t go there. But please, don’t bring up the point of security via obscurity (because I believe there is no way you can prove it is true until Firefox is as widely-used as IE).

Back to the blog title: how would you feel if your organization refused you the freedom of using your preferred browser (assuming that it isn’t IE that you dig)? Would you take it lying down, or would you take reactive action? Remember this is different from an IT policy that, for example, forbids you from installing unlicensed software or software that is particularly vulnerable to security risks (I’m tempted to say IE here). Firefox is neither unlicensed software, nor is it as vulnerable to security risks as the software you are (hypothetically) being forced to use (IE). I know I wouldn’t be happy. You might as well take away my Internet connection (which just may happen at work, soon, but for other reasons).

19 Responses to How would you feel if your organization forbade you from using Firefox?


Dave M.

December 24th, 2004 at 2am

I would say, fine, and keep using IE. It’s their computers that they are putting at risk, not mine. If they want all their data exposed to countless hacks and such, fine with me.

They are not going to stop me from using Firefox at home!


Mathias Bynens

December 24th, 2004 at 2am

I’d definitely feel bad/sad/pissed, though I don’t know if there’s anything to do about such a decision from above…



December 24th, 2004 at 2am

I’d go mad. Really mad. Angry. Using IE during my work would be like going back to the Stone Age.
I think I’d try to argue, collect information about Firefox, and demonstrating that :
a) Firefox is more secure than IE (check flaws, firefox fast hotfixes, there are more and more organizations / goverments that recommend not to use IE)
b) Firefox is free (as in speech and as in beer). No license problem, no warez issue.
c) Firefox improves my productivity. Using tabbed-browsing and Web developer Toolbars avoids me a lot of hassle, and allows me to produce better code.

If they don’t let me use FF, I think I could quit my job.

“Using a Stradivarius violin to pound nails should not be considered a sound construction technique.”


Dan Hinojosa

December 24th, 2004 at 2am

If there is one thing I learned about this last election is the power of childish name-calling and how many people love it.


Well, Bush had more ‘flip-flops’ in 4 years than Kerry did in his entire tenure. My point? (Sorry, about the politics) is that the ‘flip-flopper’ name stuck and people had fun with it, and it ended up defining the opposition.

So, back to your IE problem. Regardless of political stand, just call it “internet exploder”, make it the norm, until it sinks in with upper-management. Eventually someone will be mocked for making the stupid decision in the first place.



December 24th, 2004 at 4am

My productivity level would go way down for the first few weeks as I spent all my time researching information and statistics on firefox and IE so that I could give a presentation to the higher-ups on why that is the dumbest decision they could have made.



December 24th, 2004 at 4am

Just one point on security. You say,

“(because I believe there is no way you can prove it is true until Firefox is as widely-used as IE).”

That is simply wrong and a falsehood. If you code well it doesn’t matter if there are 5 or 5 million people using it. The number of users has no effect on security beyond providing a bigger target IF and ONLY IF the product wasn’t coded properly in the first place.

I could see the futility in arguing Firefox vs Opera, but Firefox vs IE? Are you serious? Have you ever worked in IT? Ever had to spend houring working on someone’s machine simply because they went to the wrong webpage? That’s just silly. IE is not a secure browser and there is a reason why governments are warning against using it.

As far as the user who wants to use Firefox but has to use IE, Oh well. IT policies are there for a reason. If you don’t like them tough cookies.



December 24th, 2004 at 4am

Being forced to use IE wouldn’t bum me out half as much as having to use Windows would.



December 24th, 2004 at 5am

Just tell them that you need to sign up for a $900 training program on how to use IE.


patrick h. lauke

December 24th, 2004 at 11am

it would annoy me, for sure, and i’d see if the situation couldn’t be resolved on special grounds like the need to do cross browser testing. however, as a general rule, i can see the reverse side: if you allow users to install *any* software on their machines, you (the IT dept) are just asking for increased strain on your support…i’ve seen colleagues install any old sh*t from the web. hey, it’s free…let’s install this fancy background changer / icon pack / etc. oh, it now says that my registry is corrupt or something…


Cheah Chu Yeow

December 24th, 2004 at 12pm

To None who said:

That is simply wrong and a falsehood. If you code well it doesn’t matter if there are 5 or 5 million people using it.

I believe you have totally mistaken my point. I believe that is wrong and a falsehood as well. Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough when I wrote what I did, but when I said don’t bring up security via obscurity, I meant that I don’t believe in it, so don’t even think about arguing for that point.

(Besides, I am on your side ;-0))



December 24th, 2004 at 3pm

how would you feel if your organization refused you the freedom of using your preferred browser

Not like you would have a choice. A company is not a democracy. In some cases, you would have to take it lying down. A computer purchased by a company for business use, can be used, or not used, however they wish. Failure to comply will often get you fired.

I work in I.T. And I work for a company that doesn’t allow you to do a lot of things with your company laptop, and that says what you can and can’t have installed. In fact, corporate provides a list of acceptable applications. Anything not in the list, is not acceptable. Period.

You don’t have to like it…. but in the corporate world, you do have to respect it.


(I in no way endorse my company’s policies, I’m just charged with enforcing them)



December 24th, 2004 at 6pm

> charged with enforcing them

As in “charged with murder” ?



December 25th, 2004 at 10pm

Well, if you cannot argue that Firefox is more secure than IE then you can sugget that IE was last updated in 2001, which is three or so years ago!


Phil Wilson

December 27th, 2004 at 10am

I’d be furious.

I’d argue that it would completely prevent me from doing my job since a significant percentage of visitors to my company’s website use Gecko browsers.

In addition it would make debugging our internal web applications much harder (hello LiveHTTPHeaders, Web Developer Toolbar, DOM Inspector) thus further reducing my productivity.

I’d also moan about it to my boss and the head of IT every single day :)

On the other hand I’m not sure what Vanessa’s job is. At, for example, my girlfriend’s last job (about 6 months ago) they were still on IE5.5 because of the time it takes to perform security audits on software (their machines were used for clinical data handling) and had only just started upgrading to Windows 2000 from Win98.



December 28th, 2004 at 1am

Check this out. I recently had this very odd, very frustrating experience. I went to work at a place…a small company, family-owned. The computer where I was to sit was afflicted in some way…and they couldn’t figure it out. For some reason the internet didn’t work…but the needed it to in order to email the servicemen of calls and such. They said they had numerous computer people out there and no one could ever get it fixed. She says to me, Hey, maybe you can fix it…you’re good with computers! No one else has been able to! Basically, I got the “do what you can” go ahead. Well, it turned out it was pretty busy most of the time and I hadn’t really had that much time to investigate, and the emails were sent using another lady’s computer. So…I just didn’t have internet access at my computer, but I had the pleasure of daily…[all day long constant] bombardment of adware and its ilk. So I knew there was an issue with that already…but nothing that was used on it fixed it. (they needed to format and start over if you ask me!!)

Anyway, one day when the non-having of email was just too frustrating and hindering for me, and since I’d already had permission to do so, I decided to really look into it. In a matter of moments I realized the problem. There was never anything wrong with their internet! It was “connected” the whole time…the problem was just that when you opened IE you would get the dreaded “Page can’t be displayed” page, so everyone assumed the internet didn’t work. It was just IE that didn’t work. So, I put Firefox on it just to ensure that it was a browser issue. I’d already tested the connection via pinging and sending and receiving email thru Outlook Express (the email they used was web-based, so it didn’t work as they were going thru IE to use it.) Everything worked fine, as I’d assumed. Well, before I got the chance to tell them of my discovery, (I was expecting to be the great genius who saved the day, just so you know)…I returned from lunch to her confrontational stare, and she asked if I’d put some sort of software on the computer. I said yes, that today I had, and she then began to blast me, like the psycho I had long suspected her to be, and was told it was not my personal computer, blah blah. I was let go that day for same.

I emailed her an apology for the way things had turned out, but of course, gave her reasons that she told me to fix it..blah blah. Anyway, my letter was very nice and respectful…and not that I expected to, but I got no reply. When I tried to send my friend there an email after that, saying goodbye and I’ll miss you guys, my email was blocked and returned. “ACCESS DENIED”

Now….is that ridiculous or what?


I’m better off I know…but still….



December 29th, 2004 at 5am

What we dont know is if a place has internal applications that run only on IE.

Say what you want, for internal program development – IE is a better platform that can do more. (I am sure someone will argue that, oh well).

Personally – I use IE stuff. The only thing I have ever really discovered that causes the browser to get hijacked, is me, going to a website that might do that.



December 30th, 2004 at 4am

I guess I’d be a little ticked, but it’s the company’s policy, the company’s equipment — not mine. Not everyone understands why IE isn’t a great browser. Don’t like it? Start your own company and you can force your employees to use whatever you want.



December 31st, 2004 at 8pm

My company has said that. They’ve said that since:
a) it hasn’t been reviewed
b) is open source
c) not company policy
that we’re not allowed to use it.

I am, however, allowed to use Mozilla. So whenever I want tab browsing, I use that. It isn’t as much of an issue as you say, really. I don’t use any of Firefox’s extra features at work, except for tab browsing, the google search, and then really decent find function.

As James said, you have no choice.


James H.

February 13th, 2005 at 6am

Agreed. I’ll often just not use anything at all if I can’t use Firefox. I react like a whiny, tempermental child if I can’t get online with Firefox.