Recently I sat down at one of my old desktop machines, on which I’d been running Internet Explorer with Windows 2000 (for no good reason other than inertia and infrequent use). The browser was set up to use AdSubtract, a cookie manager and ad and pop-up blocker I had used for many years on Windows. AdSubtract was a great little product, and it always took a while to readjust to the web without it when I was using Safari or another browser.
On this day, I fired up Internet Explorer and immediately saw a pop-up ad. “Huh? What happened to AdSubtract?” I thought. Then I looked at the ad, and realized that it was from AdSubtract — the product had used its upgrade notification function to place an ad on my machine. “Wait — didn’t I buy this thing to block ads?” I thought.
I fired off an email to the AdSubtract support team, asking why they had gone against the purpose of the product so egregiously. To their credit, they responded very quickly; unfortunately, the message wasn’t good:
That is correct from time to come [sic] we will send you a message to let you know about great upgrade discounts.
Okay then, I thought. Time to stop using AdSubtract.
So I downloaded Firefox and installed it. Should have done that a long time ago. Then I installed the Adblock extension. Great. Did I mention that Firefox and Adblock are both free, while AdSubtract costs $30 — and that AdSubtract doesn’t support Firefox and only runs on Windows?
Firefox and Adblock aren’t complete replacements for AdSubtract — particularly, the cookie management features in AdSubtract are much better than those provided by Firefox. That said, the pop-up blocker in Firefox is easier to use than the one provided by AdSubtract, and Adblock has some nice features AdSubtract doesn’t yet match. And that free thing sure is nice.
Firefox is an open platform with a large and growing body of extensions that make it useful and customizable far beyond what Internet Exporer has ever provided. AdSubtract was once a useful way to improve IE, but in a world where Firefox exists, it doesn’t have much of a future. And no pop-up ad is going to change that.
What’s your favorite Firefox extension?