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I've yet to find a downside to this either.
I'm no expert but I've been having endless fun recently messing with Asterisk and it refused to talk to my SIP provider unless I gave it their proxy server's address.
I personally wouldn't let Bing or any other toolbar anywhere near my browser.
Windows firewall would have just let that through but I was using the Sphinx Software firewall app that configures Windows Firewall so that you can use it to stop unauthorised outbound traffic.
As for the anti-phishing filter, Firefox downloads an offline blacklist from Google whereas Internet Explorer checks sites online. Whilst doing this, IE sends 'Standard computer information' (read unique ID) as well as the address of the site to Microsoft. So pretty much the opposite of what you said unfortunatley.
SmartScreen Filter is designed to help warn you about unsafe websites that are impersonating trusted websites (phishing) or contain threats to your computer. If you opt in to SmartScreen Filter, it first checks the address of the website you are visiting against a list of high traffic website addresses stored on your computer that are believed by Microsoft to be legitimate. Addresses that are not on the local list and the addresses of files you are downloading will be sent to Microsoft and checked against a frequently updated list of websites and downloads that have been reported to Microsoft as unsafe or suspicious. You may also choose to use SmartScreen Filter manually to verify individual sites with Microsoft. When you use SmartScreen Filter to check websites automatically or manually, the address of the website you are visiting will be sent to Microsoft, together with standard computer information and the SmartScreen Filter version number. To help protect your privacy, the information sent to Microsoft is encrypted.
Firefox periodically downloads a file of known phishing sites and searches it locally.