This article has everything. An ex-IE team member explains why he no longer uses IE, switches to Firefox – and then gives us some UI advice so we don’t get too complacent. :-) Most of his comments are great; one thought:
IE intentionally brings the browser history into the new window: the bet being that users who want to continue from where they left off can, and those that want to go their home page can do that with one click.
…but if you have a Java applet in that page which is communicating with a server, it can really stuff things up because you then get two of them. Having worked on such a product, this behaviour is actually one of my pet hates about IE. I love Firefox’s New Tab behaviour – Ctrl-T and I have a nice blank canvas, with the location bar focussed, ready to go whereever I please. It’s as satisfying as turning to a new, crisp, white page in a notebook. Mmm. :-)
The “continue from where you left off in a new window” model for Firefox is “open in background tab”; you don’t open new windows with copies of the current page and then navigate in multiple directions, you navigate directly in those directions from the original copy. Much nicer, IMO.