Has anyone uttered an unkind word about the open source challenger to Microsoft's browser? With Firefox still gaining on Internet Explorer (according to a recent study). John Carroll is happy to oblige. Carroll says political considerations have allowed Firefox to escape deserved criticism. Firefox supporters make some rather costly demands of Web sites, notes Carroll, who thinks that ignoring IE's non-standard features will prove a large, and unnecessary, barrier to the success of the best alternative to Internet Explorer. For a browser that touts its support for HTML standards, he was surprised to find that Firefox -- scheduled for official release on November 9 -- has difficulty with standard HTML.