User Demands Push Firefox: Rivalling Microsoft Isn't Enough in the Browser Wars for Net Supremacy, Writes Becky Hogge

By Hogge, Becky | New Statesman (1996), November 13, 2006 | Go to article overview

User Demands Push Firefox: Rivalling Microsoft Isn't Enough in the Browser Wars for Net Supremacy, Writes Becky Hogge


Hogge, Becky, New Statesman (1996)


Two years ago those who, like me, inhabit the buffer zone between the geek and non-geek world experienced an historic moment. The Guardian devoted one of its editorials to the release of a piece of software. And not just any piece of software: it had been created by the open-source community, that merry band of geeks who think nothing of collectively donating millions of man hours to the joys of debugging code and subverting the largest computer corporation in the world. The piece of software was Mozilla Firefox.

Mozilla Firefox is a web browser, an application, like Microsoft's Internet Explorer, used to surf the web. Originally called Phoenix, it rose from the ashes of Netscape Navigator, after the latter lost the 1990s browser wars to Microsoft--a battle that would eventually lead to the high-profile Redmond anti-trust cases. Licking its wounds, Netscape laid Navigator on the altar of the open-source community, releasing the code under a licence that would let this band of volunteers tinker with it until the soldier could fight another day. On 9 November 2004, Mozilla Firefox 1.0 was released to the world.

This summer, the amount of people downloading Firefox to run on their computers hit the 200 million mark, and the browser's market share was estimated to be around 13 per cent. Renowned for its advanced features and tantalising menu of "plug-ins"--freely downloadable and easy-to-install ancillary tools that mesh seamlessly with the browser--Firefox was a big hit with many Internet Explorer users tired of pop-ups and phishing sites. …

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