Skip to content ↓

April 2021: Although our campus is closed to visitors, you don’t have to travel to 🌈 Cambridge to get a feel for MIT. Sign up today for an 🔮 online session or student-led tour.

MIT student blogger Laura N. '09

Browser Wars by Laura N. '09

Hee. The title makes me think of Super Mario Bros. Oh how I miss my Nintendo.

Sorry I’ve been MIA lately- I’ve been taking 2.670 (Intro to Machine Tools) during the day, helping to teach the new class of EMT students during the afternoons, taking The Nuts and Bolts of Business Plans on certain nights, and just generally not getting enough sleep. Also, the student-run ambulance is back in service now, so I expect that to take up more and more of my life. =)

There’s only a week left in IAP, which is a little sad. But there are still some cool things coming up that I’m looking forward to, and I’m psyched about next semester, because for the first time I really, really want to take each of the classes I’m signed up for. But more on those when we get closer to reg day.

In other news, I totally love that I started a web browser war in the comments thread of my last entry. *grins evily*

IE isn’t all bad, but once I found Firefox I liked it so much more. And of course, it’s one of those things where once you get used to how awesome Firefox is, you can never go back to IE. When IE7 came out (which does have tabbed browsing), I downloaded it to see what it was all about, and I hated it. Yuck. There were some cool features that Firefox doesn’t have, but overall the design bothered me.

As for the Mac, I have come to love later versions of Safari in a way I didn’t think was possible. Plus it has AcidSearch, which is a more easily customizable version of the Firefox search toolbar. I don’t use it much, because I have a PC. But I use a Mac at work and I’m slowly falling more and more in love with them and more and more out of the not-love I’m in with Windows. (Mac is like the mysterious lover sweeping me off my feet and out of my complacent-but-not-really-exciting marriage to Windows.)

I’d never tried Opera before, but I was inspired to download it by all your rave reviews. It turns out that MIT certificates (which we use to identify ourselves by our campus-wide login names on secure sites to do things like confirm housing and check grades) are not supported in Opera, so for now we can only be star-crossed lovers. But I played around with it for awhile, and while there are some things I didn’t really like about it, it does have some pretty nifty features that I could definitely get behind. I’m not in love, but I may have a little bit of a crush.

And now, answers to your questions:

Mick asked: Is it possible to be admitted to MIT without completing a science SAT II (for someone who is a resident of the US and has not taken the TOEFL or the ACT) if all of the other application requirements are fulfilled? Thanks.
That’s tricky. I would direct this question to one of the actual admissions counselors.

Vivek asked:
i am an international applicant , just wanted to get an idea about my chances. My SAT scores are 780 math,690 reading,650 writing ,SAT subject test physics 800, math level 2 800. and 116 in the toefl ibt. i have loads of extracurricular activities, only thing my grades in senior year aren’t that great although i am considered one of the smartest in my year.

Sorry, I don’t do chances. No offense, I think it’s a stupid idea. First of all, your chances aren’t quantifiable. Second of all, who cares? I’m just an undergrad. If I give you some made-up number that represents my vague opinion about how likely you are to be admitted, what does that actually add to your life? And most importantly, it’s completely impossible for me to even have the slightest idea if you’d make a good MIT student from the information you’ve given me. Test scores do not a cool person make.

41 responses to “Browser Wars”

  1. Jillian says:

    I too am a Firefox user and I can’t stand IE7! Haven’t tried Opera – I might download it today.

  2. me says:

    opera rulz. i have been usinf firefox for 2 years or so, it was nice but there is a very anoying bud (or feature) that makes ff use a lot of ram. now im using opera its very cool and light

  3. Solomon says:

    I can’t believe you guys have some qualms about IE7. For me it is the best and I will always stick to it. Laura try a little harder and your marriage to IE7 would be as intriguing as it can get.

  4. Sh1fty says:

    i consider myself a tolerant and understanding person and i wouldn’t trade freedom of speech for anything in the world, but i really feel like banning everyone who say that ie is good :D only 2 kinds of people like ie: m$ programmers and republicans :p anyway, i’d like to hear(read) more about that student-run ambulance. i definitely wouldn’t join you (“blood! open wound!” *faints*) but i’d still like to know more about that. the odds are that you’ll be giving me a ride every once in a while :D

  5. Carlos G. says:

    Hey, Firefox is the way to go!
    Since Version 2.0, the use-a-lotta-ram bug has been fixed and cool features are added with every update. (Like automatic spell-check) Also, some efficient coding and data transfer methods allow for fast (if not the fastest) page load times. I was surprised how many organization and educational sites already support Firefox.

    I’ll have to try opera later, 3 browsers seems a bit much.

    Oh, forgot to mention that IE7 copied – that’s right, blatantly copied – the features from Firefox, which I am therefore staying with out of principle. : D

  6. Brian Burg says:

    Sorry to differ Carlos, but Firefox still has some serious memory usage problems. For example, I have this page and Google Calendar open, yet Firefox is using upwards of 85MB of memory. While this isn’t a problem on my computer (2GB of ram), not everywhere do I have access to such a nice computer. If you have multiple windows and tabs in each window open for more than a few hours, you can expect upwards of 200MB or more being used.

    Note that I do use Firefox almost exclusively, while in my paid web applications job as well as at home and for play. That doesn’t mean its perfect tho smile

  7. Peter says:

    I have to agree that Firefox is definitely better than IE 6/7. IE six was too cluttered with icons, IE 7 just had the wrong idea. Honestly, the first time I downloaded IE 7 to check it out, I thought IE 7 was a crude imitation of Firefox. Sure, it was somewhat improved with respect to IE 6, but IE has some developing to do (at least aesthetically), before it could really win the browsers war. IE won netscape, it could win again, but Firefox looks too strong an opponent just now =).

  8. reddy says:

    hi laura,
    i am an international student and i wanted to clarify that all the people who enter mit have taken part in olympiads and stuff?

  9. Reg says:

    I tried IE7 and Firefox but they both wouldn’t work on my crappy computer. IE6 FTW!

  10. Anonymous says:


    false. i know several people who have gotten into mit without going to any olympiads. however, i think this might hold mostly for students from the US — a lot of public schools here, mine for example, do not encourage or facilitate olympiad participation. on the other hand, i would think in the international applicant pool most people have done something to distinguish themselves in some discipline, most likely through competitions.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand why MIT is so harsh on international stuents. While for US students, test scores are not the only factor and other activities do count much as well, for internationals its mostly 800s in SATs. You have to admit that. Its totally unfair.

  12. Sh1fty says:

    anonymous, of course it’s unfair. MIT admits 1400 US citizens and only 100 international students. there are only ~300 million people in the US and ~6 billion in the rest of the world. to make it fair MIT should admit 75 people from the US and 1425 from the rest of the world. as a US citizen, do you really want it to be fair? smile

  13. Daniel says:

    Solomon is right. Most people’s perception of MIT is that it’s where all the smartest people go, and there are only enough of the smartest people to fit into MIT. In reality, there are plenty of very smart people (who get 800’s on SAT’s and perfect GPA’s and whatnot), but not all of them are a good match for MIT. And there are plenty of people who get less-than-perfect scores, but still have passion and dedication and a desire to change the world, and are a much better match for MIT. Some of these people might have the wrong perception about the application process, but that doesn’t mean their heart is in the wrong place; they could be wanting MIT because they know it’s the best way for them to change the world, but also think that the only way they can get there is with the best scores.

  14. Solomon says:

    Sharing of ideas this way makes me long for MIT more more and more. Alas I have to wait for the admissions committee to declare me worthy before I enter. Hmmmmmmmm.

  15. Sarab says:

    I believe in the Mac and in Netscape!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Joe says:

    Firefox, chyeah.

    It’s free and open source. So that means extensions, which if you don’t use, you should start now. My favorite extension is the All-in-one-Gestures.

  17. Person says:

    Mick: TOEFL is for kids that are NOT from the US. In other words, kids whose first language is NOT English.

    Clearly, this does not apply to you.

    Secondly, yes you must take a Science SAT II for admittance to MIT.

    Suck it up.

    Vivek : MIT doesn’t need students who think test scores actually matter. MIT needs students that contribute to the advancement of knowledge and society. Your concern over test scores implies a general vacancy so perhaps you’re better off at Harvard where people go, not for the sake of education, but for a diploma. Let’s just say, MIT has more depth than that.

  18. Solomon says:


    I guess you are being too hard on Vivek. He is just worried and not so acquainted with the admissions process considering the fact that he is an international student. You are familiar with the whole process you have read all you could possibly read about passion bla bla. Apparently he does not know this and this should in no way reflect a vacancy as you call it.You should be more understanding.

  19. Anonymous says:

    When firefox gained momentum before IE7 came out, I used it, and the tabbed browsing was awesome. I still use it, however, I have had page load difficulties with it lately on many websites. So it isnt really all it is cracked out to be. sorry guys!

    PS – is anyone still using netscape?

  20. Adarsh says:

    I agree with Solomon. Being from India myself, I can say that there’s not much widespread awareness about US college applications here. In a land where your Board results determine the course of your life, and a single question wrong in the infamous JEE can make or break your selection, it is quite natural to be concerned about scores.

    Besides, my friend had an MIT interview, and the interviewer said that since only 4 people or so are chosen from India every year (and he said that was the largest number from any country; and this leads me to believe that more people get in as transfers than in their first attempt…), MIT can only afford to take people who’ve got a near perfect SAT score, or have done something outstanding at the national level.

  21. Daniel says:

    How true! Firefox is definitely the most nifty browser I’ve come across.

    To Vivek: MIT is no numbers game. It’s a living body of people who collaborate and influence each other. If you have something to contribute to that besides grades and test scores, then you have a chance. And while the admit rates are usually around 12%, there’s no real way to tell what your chances are – when it comes down to it, it’s just yes or no. Call it 50%, if that floats your boat. =)

  22. Anonymous says:

    Hi reddy-
    I did not get deffered but am a regular action applicant, since MIT does not have early action for internationals:) Good luck to you to…..

    and sh1fty-
    If you noticed, I did not say anything regarding the number of internationals admitted smile but rather I only pointed out that while for US students the process IS really holistic, but for internationals it is not so. I am smart wink enough to understand that institutions in any country always admit the majority of students from their own country. But I do think MIT could surely boost that 100 to 200 though.

  23. reddy says:

    hi anonymous,
    thanks so much for clearing my myth but I guess your truly right that the system is quite unfair for internatonals. But nevertheless thanks so much for your reply and good luck with your mit application(if i a not wrong u got deferred right?)

  24. Anonymous says:

    Opera has it’s own formatting when you write something like e-mail etc, and doesn’t support the mail clients formatting options.

    And most seriously : opera isn’t supported by yahoo mail beta.

  25. John says:

    Looks like I’m the first person here using Konqueror (well, to be fair, Safari is based on the KHTML rendering engine, so not quite). It very nearly passes some really tough standards compliance test called ACID something-or-other that IE and Mozilla don’t handle very well, so it’s pretty good I guess. It’s definitely very fast. Konqueror comes with KDE, which I’m happily using on Kubuntu, a flavor of GNU/Linux smile

    By the way, I have really appreciated that everything I’ve encountered on MIT’s website has worked well with Konqueror!

  26. Timur says:

    I swore by Opera for the longest time… then I used Mozilla (oldshcool Mozilla) for even longer. In the past month or so I’ve taken to Firefox (I can’t find my old everything-in-one mozilla anywhere), and I find it decent.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Oh……and sh1fty again………
    I am not a US citizen :D

  28. I fall more and more in love with Linux + XGL + Beryl every day.

  29. Sh1fty says:

    well, i’m sorry if i insulted you :D if they decide to take such a radical measure i hope they do it very soon, because i’m applying next year :D

    back on topic, i use opera on linux, it’s a bit unstable, but i don’t mind smile

  30. Elizabeth says:

    I blame Laura for purposefully bringing up the browser war again. But I must take part, for Firefox rocks and, as far as I can see, that is the general consensus, with only a few disagreements. Oh, and Reddy, Anonymous was quite right. I know plenty of people (including my sister who, impossibly (in my opinion), did not choose to go) who got into MIT without any such math etc stuff. MIT is an institute of technology, but it has many different programs and I have to say, as is true in my case, Olympiads have never once been mentioned at my school (except in middle school)

  31. alpaca says:

    The latest netscape to be released was very similar to mozilla browser (not mozilla firefox), its an app that tries to be everithing, it has too many features and is too heavy, but, netscape actually uses the same rendering engine as firefox: geko, in fact, firefox development started once netscape became opensourced.

    When I found a very very old (1995) pc magazine I read something about compuserve, omg… is amazing how the browsers have evolved! that crapplication was unable to handle google!, yep! google!!!!!

  32. Lorena says:

    I love Firefox with a passion..i fondly refer to it as my little friend.

  33. Abass C. says:

    hmm okay here is a browser thats not very popular i guess, its called Avant Browser. Its hard to describe but for me its IE without all the bugs and holes. Deleted everything that has IE on my computer, people seem to make more worms for microsoft products or microsoft just sucks at covering its bases. Hope Vista doesnt have any bugs.

  34. AlexC says:

    Hey for all you Firefox ppl out there I suggest you go check out for a good laugh. smile

  35. me says:

    can u really think that VISTA wont have any bugs. i think it will have more bugs than the rest combined considering that it is the heaviest windows as yet and is based on new technology. i heard that it requires at least 1GB of ram and recommends 2GB. though i heard that the new drivers will give all other OS a run for their money

  36. Matt says:

    Ah, Firefox? It’s all about Mozilla, baby. Firefox is a’ight, but you’ve got to stick with the classics. Well, “SeaMonkey,” as it is now called, which is sort of lame, but at least it’s not as lame as <a>Iceweasel</a>.

  37. I would like to ask about admission in mit after appearing in 12th Exam in 2007.And also about the entrance test dates,syllabus ,min. scoring marks in toffel test and for the available seats .please give your response.

  38. i would like to ask you about the scope of computer science with c++.

  39. Jonathan says:

    I have been using SeaMonkey for about a week now. Here are the things it has over Firefox: options, lots of options, and a direct email interface. The options are really nice, I like having control, and Firefox is cleaned up for the general masses. What they need to do, is make an option for advanced options which allows you total control over how the application runs. I also want Thunderbird have an “Import from Outlook” button (that works), and for a “Sync your Portable Thunderbird” button. SeaMonkey is nice, but the amount of options are drastically fewer than FFox. I have heard it is about updating their Addon installer/unpacker. So, I have laid out at least three projects for you brilliant young people. Go to it =)

  40. Matt Horton says:

    Ha, well, you skipped my favorite OS in all this. You spoke of Windows and Mac, but what about Linux?! Holy, you’re missing out. It makes me happy, and IE doesn’t exist there! Hooray!

  41. Kiran says:

    probably the only reason there’s a quota for international applicants is because admission is completely need-blind. mit is a VERY VERY expensive college compared to stuff like IIT and stuff (it’s $40,000, about 16 lakh INR per year), and not many international applicants can handle that price. Since MIT can only give so much financial aid, it can admit only so many people. It’s kind of a trade-off: need blind vs. quota for internationals