I did something today which surprised me. A lot. I switched my default browser to Firefox.
If it doesn't seem surprising to you, perhaps a little background is in order. I've been a die-hard Internet Explorer user since 1995, when I was the product manager at Microsoft in charge of launching version 1.0 of the browser. A loyalist, partly because of nostalgia, and partly because Firefox didn't offer me that much more than the browser in the OS… so why load two browsers when you really only need one? Don't get me wrong though. In recent years I've been using many browsers on my PC's, simply as a means to ensure that HTML displays correctly on the different sites that I use. It's not like I don't know what Safari, Opera, Firefox and IE offer, and how they differ. It's simply that IE has always been my primary browser.
So why the switch? It wasn't because IE 7 isn't capable. Nor because IE 7 is buggy… because it isn't. Nor security, because with Vista and a security suite, IE is just fine.
It was a classic case of a must-have application being available on only one platform. The Facebook Sidebar, which is Firefox only, made me do it. I installed the Sidebar a few weeks ago after seeing iotum Chairman Randall Howard using it on his PC with Flock (a Firefox derivative). What the Sidebar does is display the list of updates from all my friends in a tidy pane on the left side of my browser window. Combined with a 22" widescreen monitor (1680 pixels wide), it completely changed my experience of Facebook. I found myself choosing to launch Firefox over the other browsers, and today I clicked the checkbox to make it my default.
The lesson kids? People don't switch platforms because of the platforms. They switch because of the applications.