FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Firefox Fever

Today, Mozilla released its final 1.0 version of its Firefox web browser -- an event that's posing the first serious challenge to the dominant Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE) browser since MSIE crushed Netscape in the late 1990s. This year, MSIE's share of the browser market has fallen from 95.5% to just under 93%, in large part because users have turned to Firefox, Opera and other alternative browsers.

Eight million people downloaded the preview version of Firefox 1.0 the past several months, and reports are that the Firefox server has been clogged all day with people attempting to download the final version since it was released at 1 A.M. this morning. Stephen Pierzchala, senior analyst at Net performance management firm Gomez, calls the problem a "success crisis."

So what's all the excitement about? Demand for non-MSIE browsers has been high since security vulnerabilities began appearing in MSIE earlier this year. Users have also responded positively to Firefox's features, such as built-in popup blocking, tabbed viewing, and performance that matches or surpasses that of MSIE.