Back last year, I switched my default browser from IE6 to Firefox, not for security reasons (as I had seen no conclusive evidence of Firefox being any more secure than a properly patched IE), but because Firefox gave me tabbed browsing and easy access to RSS feeds. It was supposedly faster too, but I have to say that I haven't particularly noticed this.
The switch to Firefox could not be made completely, however, as there are till too many sites that require IE to work and/or display properly. These are becoming fewer, but I still found it necessary to have IE available for when problems occured.
A few months ago, I then installed the beta 2 version of IE7 on a non-critical machine so I could have a play with it. First impressions were that it did pretty much the same as Firefox, but at that time, it crashed a bit too frequently to be used on my laptop or main desktop machine. It might have been my imagination, but it also seemed a bit sluggish performance wise.
The recent availability of IE7 beta 3, prompted me to take another look. I therefore downloaded it yesterday and gave it a try. For the last 24 hours I have been hammering it quite hard and I have to say that it has held up well - i.e. has behaved very predictably and hasn't crashed yet.
Functionality wise, I would say it is actually now better than Firefox. The tabbed browsing experience is just a tad more natural and intuitive and I much prefer the way IE7 now handles RSS feeds over the Firefox Live Bookmark approach. Again, it might be my imagination, but it it also seems a lot snappier performance wise compared to the previous version and I really can't tell the difference in this area now between Firefox and IE7
The bottom line is that I have been impressed enough with the IE7 beta 3 release to install it on both my laptop and main desktop. I haven't uninstalled Firefox and will probably leave it there as it is useful for checking formatting and stuff when I am getting more adventurous with content on our website, but IE7 is now my default browser.
I have to say that while I prefer the usability of IE7 over Firefox, the difference isn't huge (at least for what I do). The real benefit is not having to mess around switching between two browsers when you hit compatability problems - IE7 has pretty much worked perfectly on all sites so far, even the ones that exhibit strange formatting or behaviour with Firefox.
So, would I recommend other Firefox users to switch to IE7?
I would not presume to give advice of this nature as everyone's browsing habits and requirements are different. There are lots of people who have not experienced the same site compatability problems as I have and if you are one of these, then the benefit of switching will be minimal. If you have had compatability issues or have never quite got the hang of tabbed browsing and feed management in Firefox, however, it might be worth giving IE7 a look.
(Feature list for IE7 beta 3 may be found here)