Two events this week will get more attention than they deserve.

First, Microsoft will unveil the final version of its search service, MSN Search, aimed squarely at Google. Here’s an article about the launch. Unless there are some features hidden in it that I’m overlooking, it’s a wholly unimpressive competitor. Google’s results are easier to interpret and lead me more quickly to the right place. Microsoft is good at promotion but I can’t easily imagine people giving up Google in large numbers.

Second, Firefox is being released in a “final” version as an alternative to Internet Explorer. Evangelists are writing online reviews and articles in the tech magazines and the popular press singing its praises. IIn the next few days, you will read that Firefox is faster than lightning, more secure than Fort Knox, that it will clear up your complexion, and that it will do your laundry. You may occasionally see a reference to the thousands of web sites that won’t display correctly in Firefox because they were designed for Internet Explorer, but that will be in small print and the implication will be that the web sites are at fault and you didn’t really want to go to them anyway.

In the real world, you’re running Windows XP with Service Pack 2, right? It’s a very secure environment. There have been no exploits affecting Internet Explorer on WinXP SP2. If you have free time to be a bug tester on Firefox, try it with my blessings. I’m going to focus on getting work done.

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