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Mozilla The Internet

4 Years Later, The Mozilla Tide Has Turned 923

dave writes "In 1999, I editorialized that the browser was the battleground that would win or lose us the whole thing. 4 years later, in light of the excellent Firefox 0.8 release it is time to update the article with a slightly more optimistic view."
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4 Years Later, The Mozilla Tide Has Turned

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  • by eyeareque ( 454991 ) * on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:10PM (#8249986)

    Yesterday I rebuilt my sisters windows 2000 machine. I installed gaim for her, and also ad aware then let her install whatever other apps she wanted.. The funny thing is, she called me later last night asking where she could download firebird because she hates internet explorer. I thought to myself, wow, how the tides have changed.

    Creative Criticism: The DHTML or whatever is used to give the advanced editing features of Exchange 2000 web mail, msn hotmail, yahoo mail, and the geocities web site editor don't work in Firebird; If they did my sister, my mom and many other web users would never use IE again.
  • by overbyj ( 696078 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:12PM (#8250010)
    I agree that Mozilla has come a long way but unfortunately, as long as there is a very large computer company in the Pacific northwest that shall remain nameless continues to more tightly integrate their nameless browser into the OS, Mozilla stands little chance overall. Sure, I love Mozilla on Linux and OS X but there are sooooooo many people that respond " Mo...what?" when I mention it to them.

    Kudos to the Mozilla team for Firefox. It is pretty sweet. Let's hope that the nameless company in the Pacific northwest loses it grip on the browser market. Not likely, but we can always hope.
  • I remember... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cozziewozzie ( 344246 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:13PM (#8250018)
    ...when Mozilla was the poster child for how NOT to run a project: hopelessly behind schedule, slow, bloated, leaking memory left and right. And there were people who kept saying that the Mozilla guys would get it working and that it would be a kickass browser.

    Guess what? They were right after all. Congratulations to the Mozilla team and thanks for the excellent browser(s)!
  • by Sheetrock ( 152993 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:13PM (#8250020) Homepage Journal
    Who knows what Firefox is? Chrome? Phoenix? Camino? Thunderbird?

    Internet Explorer is commonly known and integrated in the great majority of computers. It's a standard anybody in the web business programs to. Mozilla could be a contender, but it's split into a million projects and still chokes on a number of websites. Most people I know have never heard of it, and to my knowledge even AOL is still using Internet Explorer. There is no tide; IE's the ocean.

  • Creative Criticism: The DHTML or whatever is used to give the advanced editing features of Exchange 2000 web mail, msn hotmail, yahoo mail, and the geocities web site editor don't work in Firebird; If they did my sister, my mom and many other web users would never use IE again.

    Amusingly enough, they don't always work in IE either. My mother and sister where having problems with not being able to type in the Rich Text Control. I showed them how to turn it off every time, but it was still very annoying. I finally gave them Firebird 0.7. No rich text controls, no pop up ads, no viruses, just pure web browsing bliss. They haven't looked back. :-)
  • by erick99 ( 743982 ) * <> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:14PM (#8250028)
    Now that popups have become something of a nightmare for most users, I have found that most people I talk to are willing to try Mozilla just for the popup suppression. Once they are onboard with Mozilla they often comment that it is a faster browser and a better browser. It is almost comical to try to capture the expression when I tell them this "third party" browser is absolutely free and is continually updated - also for free.

    Happy Trails,


  • by normal_guy ( 676813 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:14PM (#8250031)
    Standards compliance and all that is great, but the thing that made me switch to Firefox is that Microsoft pulled out support of it's JVM. I'm sure it was a half-arsed implementation, and they probably left some things out - but it was FAST. Now that I'm waiting five seconds for applets to load anyway, I made the switch from Avant (IE-based tabbed browser) to Firefox.
  • by Jim_Maryland ( 718224 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:15PM (#8250045)
    I haven't tried out all the browsers available, but I must agree that Netscape 7.1 is a nice product. Definitely much better than Internet Explorer.

    I've installed this browser on several family members PC's that I support, and they all say never realized that other browsers were available. After they used it a couple of times, they found they actually like it better than IE too.
  • Ironic that... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by addie ( 470476 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:15PM (#8250049)
    For the grant application system I manage, I have to officially recommend using IE 5.0 or above to all users. And my response to Mac users who don't use IE? I have to tell them "we're working on it". But when I'm using/testing the system myself, I use nothing other than Mozilla Firebird.

    When will the bigwhigs realize that open-source does not necessarily mean risky, dangerous, or taboo in some way?
  • by incuso ( 747340 ) <incuso@g m a i l .com> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:15PM (#8250054)
    Here in my office a lot of persons switched toward the beast mainly for spam filtering.

    Browsing using it is only a consequence.

    IMHO it is a pity to break it in different pieces...

    -- []

  • by MonkeyCookie ( 657433 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:16PM (#8250065)

    On a related note, a freshly opened Galeon used 120M of RAM, while a freshly opened Firefox used 86M. I don't really know exactly what that means, but a lower RAM usage number is always a good thing to see.

    Why on earth does a web browser like Firefox take up 86 MB of memory? That seems like an awful lot of memory for just a web browser. Is it GTK2 that is taking up all that space?

  • by robslimo ( 587196 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:17PM (#8250070) Homepage Journal
    I assume that she's an average user? Maybe she's a little more intellectually active and can better form her own judgements than the average (l)user. Anyway, it's still encouraging.

    I sincerely hope Firefox proves out. I've not tried it yet; still using Mozilla here. I have preferred Moz over IE for its extra features (anti-popup, image blocking, etc) but its bloat is pretty much on par with IE, IMO. I'd certainly like something that offers the best features of both in a tamer package.

    I guess I'd better stop wondering and give Firefox a try.

  • Wow... 4 years ago (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Xpilot ( 117961 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:17PM (#8250076) Homepage
    I actually printed out that article, with the Star Wars references and all, and kept it in a nice thick binder :) I was a slashdot newbie then, and every story fascinated me. Whenever I read it, I think, "if only this article were seen in context today, with the success of Mozilla"... and today I see this. Great job :)
  • by ldspartan ( 14035 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:17PM (#8250081) Homepage
    Has any work been done to allow the Moz renderer to be embedded into other applications the same way that IE can be? (under Win32, obviously). It seems that without that functionality, Moz will never be able to fully replace IE on the Windows desktop.

  • by jgalun ( 8930 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:17PM (#8250083) Homepage
    Creative Criticism: The DHTML or whatever is used to give the advanced editing features of Exchange 2000 web mail, msn hotmail, yahoo mail, and the geocities web site editor don't work in Firebird; If they did my sister, my mom and many other web users would never use IE again.

    That would be a nice feature to have...but I believe that this is a Microsoft proprietary extension to the JavaScript DOM, not a standard. Which is not to say that the Mozilla team is incapable of reproducing it, just that they may have some qualms about it.
  • by HairyCanary ( 688865 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:18PM (#8250092)
    If the nameless software company in the Pacific Northwest keeps deleting features from their browser, and making it less and less standards compliant, then Mozilla WILL take off.

    At my company, users are switching in droves today, as a direct result of the IE patch our helpdesk pushed out yesterday.
  • Browser wars (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tenfish ( 748408 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:18PM (#8250098)
    Thw browser wars were overrated I think. There's more to the desktop experience than the browser.

    Look at the kinds of games that are popular on the internet, for example. Flash, Shockwave, java, etc. These areas are still dominated by Microsoft, and I don't see much progress with Linux. A lot of people are still having trouble getting something like Flash working properly. I keep getting pages that say that I need to upgrade to Flash 6. I have Flash 6 installed on my Linux box, and it works well on most pages. But there are the corner cases that it fails on.

    We don't need just the browser to work. We need everything to work. Does the Firefox browser have Java in it out of the box? Java was terribly difficult to get working under Mozilla, and like Flash, didn't work all the time.

    Even something as simple as playing two sounds at once would hang the browser. We've got to fix these problems before Linux becomes big on the desktop, or the users will not have a good time.
  • by ToadMan8 ( 521480 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:19PM (#8250105)
    It's a good browser with stability, speed and some cool features. So is Opera. It's cross platform. So is Opera.

    Opera may be a bit behind on OS X but it was independantly tested as being the world's fastest rendering browser. It sticks to interdational standards like superglue and your fingers.

    Is the reason it gets nowhere near the press Mozilla does that Opera is not open source? What are your thoughts on this one?

    The company released it's IPO intensions a few days ago (Initial Public Offering; it's "going public" or starting to sell shares of stock to make shareholders the owners). I personally am very excited. I think it's a margainally better product than Moz and that makes it best in the world, IMHO.
  • Alternate universes? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by orthogonal ( 588627 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:21PM (#8250145) Journal
    dave writes "In 1999, I editorialized that the browser was the battleground that would win or lose us the whole thing. 4 years later, in light of the excellent Firefox 0.8 release it is time to update the article with a slightly more optimistic view."

    In dave's original 1999 article, he had written:
    "Attention: This is the battle that could cost us the war. If we come together and push all of our might toward a Free Web Browser for Linux, we have a good chance of winning this battle. If we fail, we will lose the war. This is the issue that Microsoft wants us to overlook."

    Meanwhile, over on MozillaZine's Firefox discussion board, Firefox developer "bengoodger" responds to criticism that Firefox is insensitive to the needs of its users []:

    I'm not quite sure how many times I need to explain this, maybe I should stick it in a FAQ or something, but Firefox is not a community driven project. While it gets a lot of benefit from testing, ideas, patches, etc, the prerogative for deciding what will and will not go into the product has always been held by the development group. This is not a new thing, this was in fact the reason this project was created.

    In a subsequent message he explains further (emphasis mine):
    Aside from the work that Pierre has done improving Bookmarks and digging around in the toolkit, patches from individual contributors and the infrasturcture (sic) work Brian has been doing on an ongoing basis,
    Firefox is basically just me at the moment.

    So are we all in this together, or is the community just sitting on its collective ass, waiting for bengoodger to vanquish Microsoft all by himself? (I realize it's not so black and white, especially given Mozilla's extensible structure, but still I found the contrast of opinions revelatory.)
  • by TulioSerpio ( 125657 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:22PM (#8250146) Homepage Journal
    Look here, but ojo! its experimental Mozilla activeControl []
  • by pirhana ( 577758 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:22PM (#8250160)
    Firefox is an amazing product and personally I love it a lot and use it exclusively. But I dont think it will capture significant market share anytime soon. I think these proprietory plugins are what preventing users from switching to firefox(or mozilla). Joe user cannot download and install those plugins to get his job done. He is too lazy/scared to do that. Untill and unless there is an acceptable remedy for this proprietory craps, things are not going to change IMHO. I would love to be proven wrong though. But still kudos to mozilla project for coming up with such a wonderfull product.

  • Easy to solve (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EvilStein ( 414640 ) <(ten.pbp) (ta) (maps)> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:27PM (#8250219)
    I just tell them that it's a special version of Netscape 7, without the AOL logos.

    People immediately recognize "Netscape," even to this day.. which is a good thing.
  • by mydigitalself ( 472203 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:28PM (#8250240)
    Firstly, install Firefox and then go to, say, which has flash on the front page. In IE I would get a dialog saying "do you want to install this now". I click "Yes", I have flash. Instead I was taken off to download something, which I did and I installed it. I restarted Firebird - still not flash. What I ended up doing was copying the plug-ins from my old Firebird installation into Firefox's plug-ins directory and then it was fine.

    Secondly, it has crashed twice today on Windows XP. Firebird crashed about once a day - and it wasn't page rendering. I would do this:
    * Open the Browser
    (blank page loads)
    * I click on my "news and daily" folder link to goto Slashdot
    * Firebird/fox hangs

    Thirdly. The plug-in installer is totally cool - but its too hidden. As a seasoned computer user it still took me 5-10 minutes to figure out how to install the Google toolbar in Firefox - even though I'd done it before in Firebird.

    Fouth - and this one is the sh*t one. Although it may be more "standard compliant", it is not as forgiving as IE in terms of bad HTML. I still get many sites that don't work in Mozilla - and because I know how HTML works and know the whole history behind W3C compatability standards I'll launch IE and look at the site with that. my mother would probably think the website was screwed. The sad fact of the matter is that there are a myriad of WYSIWYG HTML authoring tools that produde non-compliant HTML and to use the argument that they should fix their problems and Mozilla is god because it adheres to standards is horribly narrow-minded.

    My comment perhpas paints a picture more bleak than the reality. Personally I love using Firebird/fox in general, especially for its rendering spped - but I'm quite sure my mother would find the "immersive internet experience" of IE more pleasurable.

    Also this whole Mozilla/Netscape/Firebird thing is really confusing me - and perhaps others. Why doesn't the Mozilla team commit a bit more resource towards polish and user experience and produce a single primary browser with some more bells and whistles and sell/give that away. I believe that Netscape is supposed to be this, I think, but after my experiences with older versions of Netscape I really wouldn't install that.
  • overrated (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BigBir3d ( 454486 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:29PM (#8250248) Journal
    Mods do your worst

    Mozilla is overrated in my opinion. On my linux machine, it works great. On my Mac it is okay. On my Dell at work, it sucks. And it is for the same reasons since my older win98 box (now have 3 month old XP Pro machine); slow to load on start of program, loads pages incorrectly - including /. of all places, under heavier system load it is the least responsive of any programs running, etc etc. I am only talking about the browser itself. Every new release I download and install Mozilla or Firefox/bird/whatever, try it for a few days, and end up going back to IE6 for my windows machine and Safari for my Mac. Safari is now (as of 1.2) to the point that I like it as much as I like Mozilla on linux! I would love to use the same browser with the same config for all 3 boxes... but the Mac and Windows versions are just not up to snuff IMNSHO.

    YMMV of course.
  • by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 ) <> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:31PM (#8250280)
    This hits the nail on the head. Our local transit authority here has some IE specific BS in their fornt page. It won't even work in Safari, but it does work in Mozilla Firefox. I have not tried it with Konquerer yet, but my bet is it would not work there either. What's funny is I used IE and found a link for the schedule and trip planner page, copied it into Safari and it work just fine. Firefox is great. Is Camino as good?
  • IE is painful (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Darth RadaR ( 221648 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:32PM (#8250290) Journal
    With the tab-based browsing in Mozilla (along with other features), IE is painful to use IMHO. Along with Linux CDs, I also burn some Win-Mozilla CDs to give to people so they can break the M$ habit.

    The only thing I wish they'd do is ditch the Firefox name and keep it Mozilla. Or shall we call it "The browser formerly known as Mozilla"?
  • by 74nova ( 737399 ) < minus physicist> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:33PM (#8250297) Homepage Journal
    The less tech-savvy of us will of course assume "this browser sucks, it can't render this page correctly", when it is the page itself that can't be rendered properly within standards guidelines.
    while i agree with this completely, the fact remains that people still see it as the browser not doing its job well. as countless people have said before me about OSS, linux, etc, people's perception is key. they have to see that it works all the time(again, their perception, of course) like IE or windows or there is no reason to change. IE comes in the desktop, why use anything else? it does an okay job...

    it's an unfortunate fact, but it remains true nonetheless. i think that OSS has to be considerably and consistently better and prettier than the Microsoft (or whatever else) product that is the popular choice right now. ive switched to opera because it does enough things better than IE that i see it as far superior. what my wife sees is that it doesnt always work well with multimedia w/o changing preferences. she doesn't like to have to fiddle with stuff liek that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:38PM (#8250370)
    It's a standard anybody in the web business programs to.

    Nasty generalization here. I am in business, and one of my main services is web pages. I have to make sure the page satisfies a business' overall goals. By coding a web site to a specific browser, or a proprietary standard, ignoring the w3 standards, I am doing the business a disservice and limiting their opportunities.

    This is a clear example of a business tool defining the business, instead of the business defining the tools it needs. IE may be common, but it is not standard. For instance, IMO, there is absolutely NO REASON WHATSOEVER for any web site to utilize ActiveX controls, unless your trying to supercede the users security and spawn a spam server.

    Stay with proper standards, test on multiple browsers, and check the code in an html parser to ensure it works properly.

  • by sulli ( 195030 ) * on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:38PM (#8250373) Journal
    While Mozilla doesn't. End of story.
  • Re:Disagree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by symbolic ( 11752 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:39PM (#8250380)

    The more Microsoft continues to integrate, the more it sets its customers up for even greater degrees of security risk. As vuruses and and other maladies continue to plague the Windows OS, people will begin to see the light - bigger and more bloated is not always better, no matter how tightly "integrated" it is.
  • by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:42PM (#8250448) Homepage Journal
    Opera doesn't get the press that FireFox does for a number of reasons. While Opera is a "next gen" browser it isn't as polished and perfect as Firefox is. Ask the guy who invented tabbed browsing (forget his name). I read an article where he pretty much said "yeah, I made tabbed browsing in Opera and Safari and Phoenix (this was way back). But the way I did it in phoenix was the right way". The themes and extensions are key. Also The idea is to get rid of ads. Forget about open source or not. The fact that it costs money to get opera without an ad is ridiculous.

    I'm at a tech school and people are starting to switch to Firefox surely but gradually. We may reach 10 - 15% of the campus soon. Plus I think I'm going to put up some flyers and leave some cds lying around to help it out a bit.

    Oh yeah, I have a friend who was the most stubborn Opera user ever. Wouldn't even consider switching. Got him to sit at Firebird for 5 minutes. Couldn't admit that Opera was better with a straight face. He totally caved. In fact, anyone who I've gotten to seriously try out Firewhatever has never looked back. Nobody who browses the web can resist because it is just so objectively superior in all ways. The only thing left to do is increase awareness.
  • by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:46PM (#8250494)
    I had a similar thing happen at work... they revamped the internal website (it's quite large, for a large company). They kept spamming us advertising the rollout of their great new website.

    When it finally came out, they had hooks on the main page that kicked you out if you weren't running IE. I went medieval on their asses! I really let them have it, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. One of the things I pointed out was how stupid it was since I could stop the page from loading all the way (just hit esc before it could execute the java code) and still click on links and they'd work just fine. So then I bookmarked the links, and everything worked just fine.

    They took out the offending code within one day, so I can actually visit the main page again.
  • clueless troll? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Slowtreme ( 701746 ) <> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:55PM (#8250597) Homepage
    IE is standards complient, it renders W3C validated pages just fine. Are you disagreeing with that?

    It's also able to render complete HTML TRASH is a fasion that most people accept as valid and viewable. It's the Websites the work fine on IE and not on anything else that isn't using the "standards of the W3C"
  • Re:Lets help (Score:2, Interesting)

    by anno1a ( 575426 ) <.kd.nekr0b. .ta. .xaryc.> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:56PM (#8250615) Homepage
    I code to XHTML 1.1 and CSS 2.0... It validates. It looks perfect in mozilla and opera, but somehow mozilla manages to completely ravage the page so everything looks wrong. I have a "Best viewed with *\msie"... It's not that I hate IE, it's just that I'd rather code to the standards than to IE..
  • by slide-rule ( 153968 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:57PM (#8250618)
    Also this whole Mozilla/Netscape/Firebird thing is really confusing me - and perhaps others. Why doesn't the Mozilla team commit a bit more resource towards polish and user experience and produce a single primary browser with some more bells and whistles and sell/give that away. I believe that Netscape is supposed to be this, I think, but after my experiences with older versions of Netscape I really wouldn't install that.

    These are all personal opinions, but Netscape is all-but-dead as an end-product; only the brand-name lives on now. Mozilla replaced NS Communicator for an integrated browser/e-mail/news client. But people aren't happy enough and want a browser-only configuration. That's well and good, and thus started the phoenix/firebird/firefox line, but these should be considered mainly in-development code names not necessarily intended for public consumption (i.e., "for mom"). Personally, I'm hoping that when they get enough back-end kinks worked out in the engine and protocol support items, these codename browsers will roll back over to something like "Mozilla Browser" where useability items will be addressed; this is really what you and I are watching the mozilla team work towards, IMO. We (well, they) aren't there yet, and while it gets exciting to see what new widgets get added to a codename build, I think we can ultimately (and accidentally) do a disservice to push firefox (etc.) as a "for mom" solution for just the gripes you listed. Those of us here on /. with the ability to muddle through some install and/or upgrade pain to try the newest build out is, of course, another matter.
  • by Patik ( 584959 ) * <> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:00PM (#8250668) Homepage Journal
    The less tech-savvy of us will of course assume "this browser sucks, it can't render this page correctly", when it is the page itself that can't be rendered properly within standards guidelines.
    But even the people that understand whose fault it is don't care, they just want it to work. You can shake your fist at The Man all you want, but that doesn't help anything. If browser X displays the page and browser Y doesn't, people will use browser X. They care about reading the page, not doing things the right way.
  • by HarveyBirdman ( 627248 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:00PM (#8250683) Journal
    I got tired of seing Flash based ads, so I followed the instructions on Macromedia's website on how to remove the player.

    No more Flash ads.

    What I did get was a popup dialog everytime there was Flash content bothering me because there isn't a web designer on the Earth who knows how to check for Flash capability before trying to serve it. And IE has no way to turn off the bloody dialogs that I can find.

    Gods, just put the red X up and move on, IE! I don't care!!!

  • by azzy ( 86427 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:10PM (#8250816) Journal
    Mozilla is not split into a million projects. Thunderbird isn't even a web browser, it is an e-mail client. As far as market share .. in terms of a browser being important enough to support.. you can easily add all gecko based browsers together, as they will all render pages the same way. A page that displays well in Mozilla will work in Firefox, Kmeleon, Galeon, Epiphany, in any other browser using the gecko rendering engine.
  • Don't you think that CodeJock/WebWizForums coded the <object> tags to work with the different browsers? That doesn't help much with the MS "friendly" sites like HotMail and Yahoo! Mail.
  • by jsebrech ( 525647 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:18PM (#8250930)
    What has firefox got that's not coming in the next service pack for IE?

    Better standards support. IE would have to break backwards compatibility to fix this. They won't.

    Better security track record. No known unfixed security flaws. This is a good reason to go from outlook (express) to thunderbird too, by the way. Don't be a worm victim. Switch.

    Smaller download. Firefox 0.8 is less than 7 megs and getting smaller. I very much doubt IE's next service pack will fit in that category. If your choice is between firefox or IE's next service pack, and you're on modem, it makes sense to go for firefox. I have a modem-using friend who uses firebird 0.6 as a browser because she doesn't want to suffer the huge download to bring her basic installation up to the current service pack.

    Better extensibility. IE doesn't have a framework for easily and quickly developing extensions with just a zip tool and notepad. It won't have it till longhorn.

    Better web development functionality. The javascript console, the dom inspector, the various bookmarklets, the less permissive engine (which points out errors in your code much more easily than IE), and the in general better standards support work to make gecko-based browsers much better choices for web developers. Though I admit that is a niche market.

    Currently in most cases firefox is also faster (except on first load of the app, because it's not preloaded). But I suppose an IE service pack might fix this. I doubt it though.
  • Re:droves you say!? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by back_pages ( 600753 ) <back_pages AT cox DOT net> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:19PM (#8250953) Journal
    You may have a point, but practically anybody that I ever talk to about web browsers switches to Mozilla/Firebird/Firefox. People complain about the internet all the time - I just say, "Well, I don't have that problem."

    Mozilla will win ground on 3 representative features: No popups, different security issues, and tabbed browsing.

    The popups affects everyone using IE. Impress upon people that popups are the result of Microsoft screwing people over and not caring - it's not even a half truth. It's an obnoxious misfeature that irritates end users but gives Microsoft friends in business. It should have never been implemented. While Microsoft serves their own interests and contemplates their cash flow, Mozilla went ahead and solved the problem.

    Internet Explorer has about ninety billion security flaws. Even if you have all the patches, you'll still want to disable ActiveX. You still don't have a convenient way of blocking images from particular servers (spam related, annoying, inappropriate). I'm not going to pretend that Mozilla is flawless on the security front, but it does represent a distinct minority of security problems. Bad people attack IE, Microsoft is slow to fix IE, Microsoft designed IE with a million other security issues. While Microsoft drags their feet and does everything possible to make money, Mozilla went ahead and solved the problem.

    Mozilla presents tabbed browsing, among other features, that are simply better than what IE offers. Type ahead links, one key to search for text, Google built into the button bar, a spiffy download manager in Firebird 0.8, and 2 clicks to block images are fantastic additions to your web browser.

    So really, you'd be a complete fool to use IE. Maybe Mozilla isn't your cup of tea, but you'd be a fool to use IE. Maybe you are required to use IE for a few specific sites, but you'd be a fool to therefore use IE for all your web browsing. Maybe you can't install Mozilla on your lab/work computer, but you can install Firebird on a USB Flash Drive ($20 or less) and take a better browser with you everywhere.

    So maybe they aren't switching in droves, but a person would have to be a complete fool to use IE exclusively. When the word really gets out about that, the results will be hardly surprising. Like they say, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way". Internet Explorer is no longer a leader.

  • by jsebrech ( 525647 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:20PM (#8250970)
    I forgot to mention the reason why better standards support matters. It matters because a lot of cool webdesign techniques exist that create pages that show the content correctly in basic browser (like IE), but do all kinds of cool stuff in advanced browsers (like firefox). There exist no equivalent techniques for IE's proprietary stuff. So if you develop for standards you can do all the cool stuff while offering basic functionality for the other camp, but if you develop for IE, you're locking out the entire market.

    As a result, standards-based sites often look prettier in firefox.
  • by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:23PM (#8251001) Homepage
    "The growing number of security holes in IE does nothing but help as well. :-)"

    I am a my yahoo user, whenever I check the IE bugs for fun, those embedded market values appear.

    In such a freaky situation of MyDoom even, damn MSFT rises!..

    Any finance geek here to explain this freakness?

    Its like "Ford brakes proved not to work in snow" and Ford shares rise...

  • by ninewands ( 105734 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:25PM (#8251029)
    Quoth the poster:
    You really have to wonder whether it was worthwhile for Microsoft

    It most definitely WAS worthwhile for MS for reasons I will explain below.
    What would have changed if Netscape had continued to sell their browser? Fewer people using Windows? Hardly.

    I hasten to disagree and hope to enlighten you my friend. In 1995 when Netscape released 3.0 Gold, it included both javascript and full support for Java. This made the browser into a full-blown (although I must admit it was also crude and slow given the hardware available in that day) OS-agnostic application platform. This was Andreesen's stated intention at the time for taking a move that predated the current marketing uproar over "Web Services" by some eight+ years. Needless to say, this was an idea about which Microsoft was somewhat less than ambivalent.
    ... the browser never could be the operating system.

    True, but the browser could have ... or, more accurately, might have ... succeeded in making the OS irrelevant ... a commodity software layer which served only to support the browser. Again, Microsoft was less than enthusiastic about this idea so they moved to "cut off their (Netscape's) air supply" (internal Microsoft memo entered into evidence in the antitrust trial).

    If you truly buy into the logic you espouse about the browser being, " ... just one more applet, fundamentally. ... ," I would recommend that you not seek employment in the Web Services field.

    Best wishes,

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:27PM (#8251060)
    First off, I love Mozilla/Firefox/Firebird, whatever it's being called right now. I'm using it right now. The browser features are great.

    The rendering engine, however, is still pretty flaky when it comes to rich, interactive content. CSS 2 is implemented damn near fully, so I can float DIVs. DOM support is great. BUT: If I try to use the DOM to change the classname of an element inside a floated DIV, the browser starts doing the goddamm macarena (the floated divs collapse and then expand again, everything basically goes wonky). This happens a lot when trying to do DOM scripting to change presentation. I submitted this to bugzilla with the release of netscape 6.1, and it still hasn't been addressed.

    Also, the web standards committee has it's head up it's ass. Yes, floating block-level elements has it's uses, but the *far more common* use case is to want to have a block level element that lives alongside run-in content, like an IMG. display:inline-block, is as far as i know, not even a standard. This is just plain stupid. Have the people on the w3c ever actually coded a complex web app?

    Also, would it really kill anyone to implement the ondrop/ondrag ie scripting controls as standards? It's simple and elegant, and I don't have to write reams of onmousedown code just to drop a div over another div and trigger a function. This is probably IE's killer feature right now, businesses all want web-apps to behave like the traditional GUIs, and IE delivers on that, broken standards or not.

  • by buckhead_buddy ( 186384 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:32PM (#8251135)
    The browser battles may have fought to a stand still but there are some other issues that still bug me. The biggest is the Intellectual Property battle.

    Web pages are copyrightable code and content. There have been features around for years to take this bundle and automatically put it into something else (a PDF file, a archive folder, etc.). What hasn't been addressed are the legal implications of doing that.

    If I go to a sight that says it's pages are protected (for example) what happens if I send the page in an HTML email to my boss. It may even make a differnence if the pages claimed to be copyrighted, gpl'ed, or click-through-licensed.

    Where Microsoft can win this game is by making everything on Windows locked down tight in Longhorn. They then make sure that every author can set their price per page on the Microsoft web: "Downloading a page out of Internet Explorer isn't allowed unless you pay $0.001 cents per byte." (or some such nonsense).

    Why would anyone use a non-free browser in this manner? They wouldn't unless they were forced to. Microsoft can do this by convincing every blogger and Parent Teacher Association that they're losing money by not exclusively using Microsoft technologies. For the insurgents who write out of some (un-American!) sense other than profit, they can probably stir up enough noise and uncertainty in the court rooms (whether they do the suing or a puppet) that makes people just feel like the "web" was the equivalent of some sort of sixties commune. Groovy and completely unsustainable.

    The fact that free software has a pair of good tools (apache and firefox) is still barely into this game.

    What else can be done? Legally I don't know. I'm not a lawyer.

    But for the coders and writers and web users of today, get them using standards and free software and realize they're using it is a very good thing.

    Second, maybe get something like source forge set up for people to GPL web sites. I'm not talking people's blogs here, but major site redesigns that have become standard compliant and how they did it. Heck, get volunteers to do site redesigns if the code becomes GPL and open to all. People need to realize that not only is it important to redesign their sites to be standards compliant, but it's also cheap to do so. The site probably won't convince the CitiBanks of the world to do anything special, but it will hopefully show and convince the community colleges and small businesses and non-profit organizations that this is really a do-able thing.

    Greed is still a strong factor. If Microsoft ever does release a secure OS, then there will be a lot of people who succumb to greed. But if their whole stream of server, database, & browser is already Microsoft proprietary they'll certainly not see any advantage to going open and standards compliant at that point.

    But that shouldn't take away from the great progress that Mozilla has made. It's been a fantastic thing to watch.
  • by dfeist ( 615612 ) <> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:33PM (#8251147) Homepage
    Maybe. But being technically correct is still important.

    And by the way, I do care what is in virtually every product I buy. It's not enough that it "just works" - I know everything can fail, everything has its dangers. So I want to know where they are. I need to know what's in the product, and I hate it if everything is hidden to me and there are so many warning labels that I couldn't use the product if I really took care of all of them.

    You may think everyone should be able to use products without understanding them. I want that everyone understands as much as possible of the technology behind them.

    People should better understand _why_ not to put their cat into a microwave oven...
  • by Ngineer ( 750765 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:34PM (#8251161) Homepage
    It's been a long time coming, but part of the reason Firefox is so exciting is that web designers are finally starting to come around to the value of web standards (namely XHTML, CSS, and ECMAScript). was one of the first of the really huge sites to commit to these standards, and the trend is accelerating. See Jeffrey Zeldman's excellent book Designing with Web Standards [] to get a handle on these developments. And if you haven't already seen it, here's a cool article [] about how to get /. into full standards compliance.

    There are still plenty of sites that are built to work only with IE for Windows, but now that the alternatives are so good and the advantages increasingly obvious, this is changing.

  • by nuckfuts ( 690967 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:55PM (#8251407)

    I could no longer live with the serious and unpatched security flaws in IE. I thought the URL spoofing [] flaw was terrible. Then it was followed up with a file extension spoofing [] flaw. This basically meant that I couldn't trust IE to correctly show me what site I was visiting or what kind of file I was opening!

    Yes, a patch [] was finally issued for the URL flaw, but the fix was criticized [] by people like Russ Cooper [] for not going far enough.

    I am finding Firefox on Windows XP to be excellent so far. It was a minor pain to reinstall support for Macromedia Flash, Shockwave, etc. but my QuickTime and Acrobat plugins just continued to work. What pleases me most is that web pages are loading noticeably faster in Firefox. I have heard this claim made my many new browsers over the years but this is the first time I have ever actually perceived a difference.

    I also like that downloads seem to start immediately in the background as soon as a link is clicked on. With IE, when I click on a download nothing starts transferring until I browse to a location to save the file, choose a filename (perhaps) and then click OK. In Firefox, I am sometimes surprised to find that my download is completed by the time I have finished choosing a location for the file!

    It is not advisable to completely abandon IE on Windows, however. Firefox won't work for grabbing updates from

  • by SpamJunkie ( 557825 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:56PM (#8251420)
    It should be no surprise that a project with a lone visionary leader can make a better product than one with a committee. XFree86 is lagging behind, plagued with problems. It's also run by a committee. Firefox is screaming along, adding features rapidly and increasing quality - with just one leader.

    Steve Wozniak made the Apple I basically by himself. DOS was written by Tim Patterson in two months.

    Design by committee rarely works, and never well. It might be argued this is one of the greatest risks to the open source development model.
  • by websensei ( 84861 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:57PM (#8251425) Journal
    ok I agree I need to amend my statement. I did mean to write "[IES is remarkably standards-compliant in comparison to earlier versions of IE".

    it is now possible to write compliant web documents that validate and appear virtually the same in ie6, mozilla and opera. that didn't use to be the case, and the post I replied to implied this was still so.

    IE no longer tries to introduce new proprietary tags, they support *most* doctypes, and at least some of the specific issues you describe are problems in other browsers too. (e.g. http1.1 preservation of request method in a 302 response is a problem in mozilla too, as is robust css2 support)

    now this was never intended as flamebait.
    there's no excuse for png, and IE6 sucks on a number of levels, but compared to earlier versions of IE it is a large step in the right direction.

    So I still contend it is completely false to say that IE6 makes no *attempt* to comply with web standards.

    that said, I still don't recommend its use, as mozilla is safer, faster, much MORE standards-compliant, and better in every regard.

  • Re:I'm still lost (Score:3, Interesting)

    by christopherfinke ( 608750 ) <> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:57PM (#8251426) Homepage Journal
    If you don't like it, don't use it.
    No, if you don't like it, tell them why. [] When else are you going to get the chance to give input on how you want a major Web browser to work and actually be listened to? I doubt that you have or ever will have that chance with Internet Explorer or Netscape.
  • by miffo.swe ( 547642 ) <daniel.hedblom@g ... minus city> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:15PM (#8251641) Homepage Journal
    At first i wasnt that impressed by mozilla but lately it is getting near perfection. Granted the mozilla suite is a bit bloaty but FireFox makes most other browsers look really stupid. If i use other browsers who lack tabbed browsing i feel disabled. I have become used to it and its features.

    I can honestly think of one single thing i lack or despice in Mozilla. Maybe on windows where it runs slow but on linux its a blast even on my 200mhz old IBM. On windows i think part of the problem is that you already have a browser idling in the background refusing to be uninstalled.

    Mozilla is now Good Enough (tm) for me.
  • by Pionar ( 620916 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:31PM (#8251809)
    Why does that matter? Everyone knows why not to put a cat in the oven. They may not know the physics behind the magnetron's (or whatever the hell that thing's called) reaction with water molecules, but they know that kitty + microwave = boom.

    I have no clue how infrared communication works, nor do I care, but I know that when I push the buttons on my remote, the tv should come on.

    Do you know exactly how the ignition system on your car works? Do you care? Key turns, car goes vroom.

    Likewise, if a user double-clicks on the IE icon, they may not know that it's IE that opens up, but they know that "the interweb" should come up and their home page should load. If it doesn't, then we have a problem Houston.
  • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:31PM (#8251814) Homepage Journal
    As an example of this I can point out my new site [] that creates a rather neat alpha-effect using a fixed background image. This works with Mozilla but not with IE. There's also a standards complaint Tetris-like game [] I've coded on the site, it works with Mozilla but not with IE.

    And, because they're standards compliant, the alpha effect and the Tetris game both work in Opera too. But not in IE.

  • by 00420 ( 706558 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:42PM (#8251937)
    I think this round of browser wars depends on what MS adds to IE in longhorn, and how long it takes for them to release it.

    The rate that people are currently switching to Mozilla may remain slow if MS adds pop-up blocking, tabbed browsing, a built-in search bar, and some more [percieved] security because the average person wouldn't see an advantage to switching then.

    However with how quickly the Mozilla team seems to advance their technology they have a good chance of always having a more appealing (to non-geeks) browser than MS.

    Regardless of all of this it's still great to see people's reaction to Firebird/fox after using it for a few minutes. Most don't ever want to go back to IE.
  • by edgarde ( 22267 ) <> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:09PM (#8252260) Homepage Journal
    I don't use Mac, tho I've seen pictures of them.

    However, I feel like Safari is what's been keeping websites standards-compliant for the past year or so -- the KHTML engine is stricter than Gecko in that it doesn't support the badly formed pages IE likes.

    When IE was considered adequate for Mac & PC, insisting on a standards-compliant website was a hard sell one's PHB. Not supporting the lowly Linux geek is one thing, but Mac users are perceived as important consumers.

    And with a de facto IE web standard, M$ would continue to extend & proprietize (word?), and Moz/Thunder/Fire/Netscape/fox/bird would forever be playing ketchup.

    Incidentally, last week I called support for my credit card's online payment site, which wasn't supporting Firebird. The tech I ended up talking to said Safari & Mozilla were giving them problems. The Safari factor was pretty reassuring to me as I felt they would fix the site for Mac users.

  • Re:I disagree (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ChristTrekker ( 91442 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @05:52PM (#8253483)

    Depends on how good the UA filter on the site is. Opera does something just like that. If the IE test is shoddy, then Opera (spoofing) will look like IE, but it still says "Opera" somewhere in the string.

    Another variation that doesn't have either of these problems is to request a non-existent page ( KS_FINE/PLEASE_LET_ME_IN) so it reports in the 404 log. A decent webmaster ought to be reviewing those, checking for broken links and such.

    A(nother) curse on Microsoft for starting the trend of UA spoofing in the first place!

  • by erik_fredricks ( 446470 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @09:07PM (#8255111)
    The only problem I see is the inability to select alternate stylesheets from the "View" menu. Every other Mozilla-based browser (as well as Konq and Netscape) has this, but not Firefox.

    I'm curious: is this a deliberate omission, or just an oversight?

  • Re:Shipping News (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jesser ( 77961 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @02:14AM (#8255864) Homepage Journal
    Developers are supposed to know better than to run around complaining "the sky is falling" while the people involved are wrestling with really difficult structural problems.

    His 1999 article doesn't come across to me as "the sky is falling". It came across to me as a well-motivated call to action.

    What's amazing is that the people involved stayed involved, while having to read this kind of crap in the first place.

    His 1999 article got me involved in the Mozilla project. Since then, I've reported over 1000 bugs, including over 50 security holes, and I now run The Burning Edge. If the article got me involved, I don't see why it would have discouraged existing Mozilla volunteers.
  • by horza ( 87255 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @05:15AM (#8256419) Homepage
    Possibly too late in the thread to be read, but things I would like to see to make it an IE killer:
    * SVG support
    * Privoxy [] available as a plug-in

    For Thunderbird:
    * spam-assasin [] and dspam [] available as plug-in options

  • by lars_stefan_axelsson ( 236283 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @06:50AM (#8256662) Homepage
    Do you really mean the ignition system, as in, how the engine computer signals the ignition module, and how the ignition module triggers the ignition coils, etc...? (Or, in the case of a car with a distributor, how that whole mechanical scheme works...?) Or did you mean the ignition switch--that thingy you put your car key into, and turn to start the car?

    Speaking of the Nordic countries, he meant the ignition system. Granted it's a 'dumbed down' version that's taught in driving school (and required knowledge to pass the driving test) but you're supposed to know about the car's major technical systems, especially safety related ones. The driving examiner may ask you to do a basic safety check of the car (about the level of a US road worthiness inspection, without the exhaust check, obviously), and may test you on hypothetical scenarios on the lines of "The car starts to act like this, what do you do?"

    And if you take the test in a car with automatic transmission that becomes a requirement for your drivers license (as in your license will have the words "automatic transmission required" printed on it). As a result everyone knows how to drive 'stick'. The option of taking the test in an automatic is really there for those with handicaps, as you'd in practice be deemed not fit to drive if you were physically capable of driving a manual tranmission, but couldn't manage to learn how.

    Driving in the US is a basic right (more or less), here it's a privilege.

  • by InvisiBill ( 706958 ) <slashdot&invisibill,net> on Thursday February 12, 2004 @06:11PM (#8262887) Homepage []

    Alternate Stylesheet Switcher - restores the "Use Style" menu from Mozilla in Firefox

    I'm not sure why it's not included. The RFCs don't state whether stylesheet switching should be handled by the browser or by the code, so perhaps it's still viewed as optional?

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