According to PC World, Mozilla Firefox is the best product of 2005. In the list of 100, the light, open-source web browser bested other gadgets, software and services, including Google’s Gmail, Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger and Skype.
There seems to be no truly reliable market share statistic for web browsers, but the stats from visits to popular websites are a good proxy. The stats actually vary across different site topics. For instance, this article from clickz.com says Firefox’s market share is approximately at 10% as of April, 2005. And W3Cschools.com gets up to 21% Firefox share, given its tech-oriented content.
But no matter what the stats are, I personally think Firefox is indeed fast becoming the browser of choice for the enlightened. Among readers of Pinoy.tech.blog and other tech-oriented blogs such as my the J Spot, Firefox is usually in the lead (guess how the readers get to be “enlightened”). Internet Explorer, after all, is too powerful a web browser to be safe. IE’s very tight integration with Windows is ultimately the cause of its being a security risk.
I was hooked with Firefox from day one. I’d been following Mozilla’s releases since they came up with their first beta releases. I actually switched from the full Mozilla suite to Firefox when I heard about how fast, light and secure it was.
Mozilla has more or less perfected version 1.0x; they’re now at stable release 1.07. Now version 1.5 is under development–in fact, Mozilla has recently released 1.5 beta 2 for public use and testing.
- Improvements to automated update system.
- Improvements to Web site rendering and performance.
- Several security fixes.
- Bug fixes since 1.5 Beta 1.
I got to download 1.5 beta 2 yesterday and I’ve been feeling not much a difference in terms of the interface. It’s the same good ol’ Firefox UI. I still get to use tabs (lots of them, if you know me), powerful in-page search functionality and keyboard and mouse shortcuts (you know what middle-click does?). I noticed some changes in the menuing system’s appearance and in the placement of some options (especially the configuration menu). And the RSS indicator is now located at the address-bar, very much like with MacOS’ Safari–but you don’t get Safari-like functionality, where a click of the RSS button will shift your view to RSS-mode. In Firefox’s case, a click will let you add the site as a live bookmark.
Some extensions don’t work yet because of compatibility issues, in my case notably Livelines, which gives me one-click Bloglines subscription via the RSS button (instead of subscribing as a live bookmark). I guess the same goes with a handful of other extensions.
One change I noticed immediately is that Firefox now warns you whenever scripts in a website will take too long to load or process, and will ask whether to continue loading the page. I find this both a boon and a bane–cool if you’d rather cancel loading of a slow site, but a hassle because the dialog box can be the cause of the delay itself.
With Firefox’s wide developer base (it is, after all, open-source), it will not take long for Mozilla to come up with the next beta, and probably even a stable build of version 1.5. This is what’s cool with open-source development: quick turnaround.
In contrast, Microsoft has been developing the IE 6 successor for quite some time now and has only recently released the beta version for developer testing. And what does IE7 have?
- Dynamic security protection through a simplified architecture
- Improved design to make everyday tasks easier and faster, with better navigation through tabbed browsing; inline search right from the toolbar; shrink-to-fit Web page printing; and a streamlined, redesigned user interface
- New tools to take you directly to the information you want through support for Web feeds (RSS) that includes automatic discovery of web feeds (RSS) on Web pages, basic Web Feed (RSS) reading capabilities, and basic support for saving Web feeds (RSS) as a new kind of favorite.
- Platform enhancements for developers to improve compatibility and manageability, including improved support for Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) as well as transparent PNG support.
Sounds familiar? Isn’t this what Firefox users have been enjoying for quite some time now?