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Firefox Turns Five Today

Gordon Kelly

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iPhone viruses? Rupert Murdock planning to sue Google News? It seems like a pretty bleak start to the week, so here's some happier news...

Firefox is five years old today. Yep, back on 9 November 2004 Firefox 1.0 was released into the wild and it brought with it innovations such as pop-up blocking, integrated search engines, add-ons and "Tabbed Browsing {which} allows many web pages to load within the same window, improving the speed and utility of web browsing". Bless.

To celebrate Firefox is hosting parties around the globe as part of a campaign called 'Light the World with Firefox' and will be shining the Firefox logo from the world. We got a Firefox cupcake this morning - and very nice it was too!

"Five years ago today, Mozilla launched Firefox 1.0 with belief that, as the most significant social and technological development of our time, the Internet is a public resource that must remain open and accessible to all," said company spokesperson Sarah Doherty in an official blog post. "From your desktop to your mobile device, Mozilla is committed to building an open and participatory Internet. We've come so far in the past five years and we're incredibly excited about the next five."

That's fair comment. Firefox 1.0 was downloaded more than one million times in its first four days of release and that figure has now topped one billion with over 25 per cent of web users (roughly 330m) now using it. That said, impressive as this is the hardest times certainly lie ahead.

When Firefox launched out of the ashes of Netscape, Internet Explorer was a sleeping giant and IE6 lasted an incredible 3 1/2 years! Today the browser space has transformed radically. Speed and interoperability have become key focuses with the likes of Google Chrome and Safari developing stunningly fast browsers built around the WebKit engine. Internet Explorer has also woken up with the release of IE8, but for our money its user experience still significantly trails its rivals and the controversial Windows 7 browser ballot could open things up over the coming months.

So what can we expect from Mozilla and Firefox in the near future? The mobile space is key one with Firefox Mobile (known as Fennec) due a wide scale roll out in 2010 and Firefox looking to overhaul its add-on system via the more nimble Jetpack system. The browser wars are only going to intensify.

Exciting times...

Links:

Firefox 5th Birthday Celebrations

Mozilla Blog Post

Pbryanw

November 10, 2009, 12:36 am

I remember first using Firefox when it was in its Firebird incarnation. Its unique selling point back then was its svelte nature. While Internet Explorer had become bloated, Firebird/fox came in a small installer, and was very speedy and quick - pared down just to the browser basics. Oh, and it had this new feature called tabs as well.





Over the years new features have been added, and some might say it's become bloated with the years, but I still remember its birth fondly and look at the long way it's come in such a short time. Heaven knows what Internet Explorer would be like without the competition provided by Firefox - would we have tabs, and would I.E. be as standards compliant as it is now?





Anyway, enough nostalgia, happy birthday Firefox :)

rav

November 10, 2009, 12:40 am

@Gordon


You kind of make it sound like FireFox introduced Tabbed browsing but Opera was the real innovator.

Gordon394

November 10, 2009, 1:14 am

@ravmania - fair point, though despite a hardcore following Opera has sadly never really taken off on the PC.

hankb6d

November 10, 2009, 2:38 am

@Gordon


I need to sit down you just described me as "hardcore" and I thought it was ease of use and a low memory hog that determined my decision.

Xiphias

November 10, 2009, 7:49 am

@Pbryanw: No, that was just to attract the mozilla users. Firefox's big feature was it's plug-ins, it was a huge memory hog compared to IE6, Opera, Maxthon, Avant etc.





@ravmania: Firefox never introduced anything. Like Apple, Mozilla's strategy was to take away the features you had to learn to use and package is all up in an interface without any options. Even today Firefox lacks many features that other browsers had five years ago.

Gordon394

November 10, 2009, 7:28 pm

@Xiphias - Add-ons do use up memory, but surely it is better to give the user choice? And despite the bloatware myth Firefox has actually gotten FASTER with each generation.





@hank - support for it is very small, but users are extremely dedicated. It was better than using 'fanboy' ;)

Xiphias

November 10, 2009, 8:26 pm

For performance I was talking about version 1 and before. I know the latest versions are better.





As for add-ons, they're great for certain things but I'd rather use a browser where the important interface features are built in so they integrate with the rest of the system.

Gordon394

November 10, 2009, 8:30 pm

@Xiphias - far enough, though for me its key to be able to customise things - notably tab opening order. I also still have yet to find anything that is as well done as Firefox smart keywords http://support.mozilla.com/...

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