I love Firefox. Love its flexibility, love the extensions that add new power. And I'll admit I love the "Stickin' it to The Man" feeling you get from using it. So why do I find myself using Internet Explorer 7 more and more?
Because once Firefox has been open for an hour or so, my system slows to a crawl and Windows Task Manager shows that Firefox is bogarting 90 percent or more of my processing power. The problem happens pretty consistently on three different Windows machines I use.
When I ask programmers at Mozilla about these problems, they usually point the finger at extensions, saying that one of my add-ons may have a memory leak or a couple of them may have a conflict. And now, they're at least trying to do something about it. On Monday, they'll launch a new add-ons site, that they say will help them keep a tighter rein on extensions. For instance, only a couple hundred of the best tested extensions will be readily available. The rest of the 2,400 or so add-ons will be in a sandbox. You can get to them, but only if you opt in and read a warning that the software could cause problems.
The site will also allow users to write more detailed reviews. Mozilla editors will look over the reviews of add-ons in the sandbox and test the software itself before putting extensions into the public area of the site.
I hope the new initiative helps, but I can already see potential loopholes. For one thing, developers can, and do, distribute extensions from their own sites, which will sidestep Mozilla's vetting process.
Ultimately, the best answer may be a step PCWorld.com's browser guru Erik Larkin has suggested: a tool that will allow users to pinpoint exactly how many resources an individual extension is using. That'll let you identify the bad actors at a glance, disable those extensions and get back to Stickin' it to The Man.