Introducing... MAXTHON

Introducing Maxthon. Not a transformer... but still pretty cool. (p.s. - it's a browser)

By JC

It’s a bird… it’s a plane… no… it’s … MAXTHON!!!

No, it’s not a transformer. And it’s not a hard drive company. But I think you’ll like it anyway.

A few months ago, I posted about IE wrapper browsers, software that uses the Internet Explorer engine internally, but offer expanded (or even severely reduced) functionality. My favorite at the time was MyIE2.

Well, now MyIE2 is all grown up, at version 1.0, and has been rechristened “Maxthon.” (I still think it sounds like a transformer or something — Maxtor SMASH Grimlock!)

I liked MyIE2, but there were a lot of little things that I found annoying… the 2 different configuration menus… the very, very stupid popup blocker, which blocked *everything* and wouldn’t stay turned off… the way popups opened full sized in tabs, which while sometimes useful occasionally caused real problems in usability… and that it frequently lost track of where it should be on my desktop, giving me the choice between “maximized” and “minimized” with anything else being somewhere far, far past the left edge of my screen and unwilling to move (if you’re running into this, BTW, change your desktop resolution, doesn’t matter to what, and then change it back, and it should be fixed for a while). Well, like I said, Maxthon is MyIE2, all grown up.

If you’ve been using the release candidate of Windows XP Service Pack 2, some of the changes will seem familiar — Maxthon handles popup blocking in much the same way IE does with SP2. Very cleanly, with a thin top bar that slides down and offers you the opportunity to block popups from a specific URL or the whole site, if a popup appears, or allow popups from the site or a specific popup, when a popup is blocked. Works very nicely.

They’ve also condensed the “setup menu” and “myie2 options” into a single “Maxthon Options” which is easier to use. The browser is, by default, still too damned cluttered, and comes with lots of mostly useless plugins (it does support the Google Toolbar, though), but you can disable the plugins (the lite version comes with a much smaller array of them) and remove the unnecessary buttons and menus.

That is, however, a problem.

In IE, it’s easy to change things in the toolbar.. just right click and you can disable sections at will, or customize the navigation buttons. In Maxthon, you do the same thing, but there are only a couple of places where right clicking actually works… a few pixels to the right of the navigational buttons, and anywhere on the red X buttons that allow you to close a tab or close all tabs.

It’s a pity that they chose to make the default search engine junk. It uses “steady search” which is apparently owned by the people who wrote the software. But it’s fairly easy to change it to google or your other search engine of choice through the Maxthon Options menu.

It also supports mouse gestures, which become very useful very fast… hold down right mouse button, drag a little left, and the browser goes back… right, and it goes forward. no moving the mouse pointer up to the buttons, or using the keyboard. Works very nicely.

Now, those of you using firefox or opera (or non-windows PCs) probably couldn’t care less… but for those of you who are using plain vanilla Internet Explorer, or you designers and developers who need to test in multiple browsers, you owe it to yourself to give Maxthon a try. It’ll make your life easier.

Oh, and I almost forgot… if you don’t like the way it looks, you can make it look better. :-)

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