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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.
    • 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 Suppafly ( 179830 ) <slashdot@suppafl[ ]et ['y.n' in gap]> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:15PM (#8250052)
      I always use firebird to check my exchange webmail for work.. The basic features seems to work better in firebird than IE.. Now if I could just figure out what the firebird setting for "Check for a new version of the page everytime" like there is in IE, so I'd stop getting cached versions of static pages from our proxy at work.
    • 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 thesolo ( 131008 ) <> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:02PM (#8250700) Homepage
        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.

        It's already implemented. Mozilla has Rich-Text controls; They have dubbed it Midas [].

        It's been in Mozilla since around 1.2 or 1.3. Of course though, their implementation is standards-based, while IE's is not. Just like XML document loading, and various other features of the DOM, you have to code for standards, and then again for IE to work.

        If you have a text area whose ID attribute is called "edit", you can easily start to use Midas by doing something like:
        if (!document.all && document.getElementById) {
        document.getElementById("edit").contentDocument .designMode="on";

        You can also view a Midas Demo [].
    • by TulioSerpio ( 125657 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:22PM (#8250146) Homepage Journal
      Look here, but ojo! its experimental Mozilla activeControl []
    • From the Article (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SpyPlane ( 733043 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:22PM (#8250153)
      I must say that the Mozilla project has breathed new life into the web, and as a side-effect, into the Linux desktop.

      Indeed. I was laughing the other day about how I am excited to go browse a webpage again. I was tinkering with the features of firefox, and was just loving it. I had used Mozilla on my Linux box at home, but to be using firefox at work on my Win2k machine is absolutely refreshing. Keep up the good work guys.
    • by jsebrech ( 525647 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:51PM (#8250549)
      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;

      The IE-only way of doing this doesn't work. The standards-based way however does work. Most blogging tools support rich text in gecko browsers. That MS uses its own proprietary stuff instead of the standards is hardly surprising, and I suspect yahoo and geocities are just suffering from inertia (because admittedly, mozilla hasn't had this capability for more than a year).
    • by Skim123 ( 3322 ) <mitchell AT 4guysfromrolla DOT com> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:19PM (#8250945) Homepage
      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

      One solution is to download and install the User Agent Switcher Extension []. You can then have FireBird/Fox/Mozilla send the IE 6.0 User Agent string.

      Another extension that was a requisite for me to move from IE to FireBird/Fox was the GoogleBar [], which emulates the Google Toolbar for IE. (They also have ones to mimic MSN and Yahoo! toolbar, IIRC.)

      • by sremick ( 91371 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:42PM (#8251945)
        One solution is to download and install the User Agent Switcher Extension. You can then have FireBird/Fox/Mozilla send the IE 6.0 User Agent string.

        Except by doing this, you're casting your vote as "I am an IE user so no need to fix your website." instead of "I use a standards-based browser and my experience on your site sucked." Webmasters DO use logs to see what percentage of their visitors are using what browsers, and this information is used to decide whether revamping the site to standards is worth it. By faking your UA string, you're skewing the stats against yourself, and are actually hurting your cause instead of helping. It's better to leave the UA alone and work with the site in other ways... this way you're investing in a long-term fix, not a short-term one.

    • by npistentis ( 694431 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:27PM (#8251067)
      My girlfriend voluntarily installed Firefox before I did, and told me afterwards- imagine my swell of first shock, then pride :-]
  • 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.
    • 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.
      • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:32PM (#8251131)
        no, see, that's where the zealots are wrong.

        Standards are being ignored and shoved to the wayside. Sure, make a website that conforms and blah blah blah, but does it matter? No, not really... People use IE. People will probably continue to use IE. If a website is "correct" and IE is "broken" because of ignoring standards and the webpage displays incorrectly the IE people are going to complain. The IE people will win, hands down.

        It's unfortunate but it's true.
    • Easy to solve (Score:5, Interesting)

      by EvilStein ( 414640 ) <> 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.
    • Firefox on OS X (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Slowtreme ( 701746 ) <> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:31PM (#8250283) Homepage
      I've been ignoring Mozilla since the Mozilla project started. IE for Windows was great for me, and I didn't like Navigator. Having moved to OSX last year and having Safari to use, I never even bothered with IE. Then the other day I responded to the /. story for Firefox, and gave it a shot.

      I thought "Wow this is just like Safari without the metal." I mean, common it's a web browser. What I dont like is that the scroll bars are screwed up on Firefox if you load anything other than the default theme (Under OSX anyway). So with nothing to add over Safari, I probably won't be switching. But if I was using Windows at home, I'd love to have the tabbed browsing that IE doesn't provide. Then again, in windows I have a task bar...
      • Re:Firefox on OS X (Score:5, Informative)

        by thesolo ( 131008 ) <> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:14PM (#8250869) Homepage
        What I dont like is that the scroll bars are screwed up on Firefox if you load anything other than the default theme (Under OSX anyway).

        Several of the bindings for Firefox changed between the 0.7 and 0.8 versions, so older themes that have not yet been updated for Firefox 0.8 will have problems; one of those problems manifests itself by making your scrollbars disappear. Once the themes are fixed, this problem won't exist (it's not specific to OSX).

        Also, as for Firefox vs. Safari, I have a Powerbook, but I prefer Firefox on it. While it handles tabs similar to Safari, I can't browse anymore without find-as-you-type, a feature that only Moz/Firefox has (to the best of my knowledge). My only complaint about it is that NSITheme isn't fully implemented on OSX, so you don't get native-looking widgets (unlike on WinXP).
    • 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.
  • 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 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 1000101 ( 584896 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:26PM (#8250213)
      I'm not trolling here, but if you are still getting pop-ups just because you use IE, well, you're an idiot. There are so many pop-up blocking apps out there that it should be a non-issue. The pop-up blocking feature that is built into the browser (soon to be added to IE) is nice, but this is hardly a feature to brag about for trying to convince someone to switch.
      • by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:02PM (#8250702)
        I disagree - it's hard enough to get people to switch FROM their default browser (by downloading a new one) simply because it's the one that came with the system. So they hesitate. However:

        IE can do tabbed browsing, with an extra download.

        It can do pop-up blocking, with an extra download.

        It can do probably do better cookie management and other features, all with extra downloads.

        Why not just download the one browser that has it all? It won't be any help if everyone switches to a new IE that has all these features built in, but it's one of the great examples of how it's MS playing catchup, and not everyone else.

        I introduce more and more people here at work to Mozilla all the time. It's great when I visit people and see them using Mozilla. I might see a pop-up on the screen, and say "you know you can disable that?" Or sometimes when we get into privacy concerns and someone mentions cookies - "Mozilla has a great cookie manager, instead of accepting or rejecting, you can select wether you want one or not". Some people say "but there's so many, what a pain!" to which I can respond "but it'll remember the sites that you say are ok!" "Really? Wow!"

        Even the image management is great - sometimes you can't get rid of ads entirely, but you can block a lot of images.

        I think there are a LOT of compelling features in Mozilla. Mozilla is, IMO, the technological leader, not the follower. IE may have more users, and it may be the leader in usage, but it's simply not as good as Mozilla, IMO.
  • 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.
  • MIRROR (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:14PM (#8250036)
    Posted by dave on Feb 11, 2004 2:55 PM
    By Dave Whitinger

    In 1999, I editorialized that the browser was the battleground that would win or lose us the whole thing. 4 years later, it is time to update the article with a slightly more optimistic view.

    On November 5th, 1999 I wrote an essay to the community titled The Battle That Could Lose Us The War. In that essay I described my mounting frustration over the losing battle we were fighting in the area of web browsers. My conclusion was that if Microsoft was able to dominate the web on the desktop, it would be a short matter of time before they could extend and dominate the web on the server. I knew that Mozilla was our last and only hope for winning this.

    In the years since then, despite enormous and sundry pressures against them, the Mozilla project has moved forward at a remarkable pace. They somehow rebounded from each major setback even stronger. Milestones were passed, 1.0 came and went, and the layout engine Gecko started to pick up speed and became used in a variety of applications, including Galeon and Netscape 6 and 7. When AOL finally turned the developers loose, they responded by apparantly doubling their efforts and moving even faster and smarter. Whether you like Mozilla or not, their persistence is an inspiration to the entire Free Software community.

    So much progress has been made, in fact, that today, more than four years since my gloomy outlook was keyed, with unspeakable pleasure I am now in a position to report that this tide has finally turned. The Gecko layout engine seems unbreakable and is reportedly more standards compliant than Internet Explorer. The Firefox browser is fast and stable, and supports the plugins out there that the users want and need, and, for the first time in several years, my wife is actually excited about her Linux desktop again. For the first time since Internet Explorer 3.0 was released, I am seeing people switching browsers in droves.

    Furthermore, we now have the same browser as the Windows users. By making sure that my web pages look good in Firefox, I can be sure that it will look similarly in Firefox for Windows. Speaking of Windows, many of the Windows folks that I know, including those computer newbies that still think the "internet" is in their "Internet Explorer icon", have already made the switch to Firefox. Joe-User is excited about Firefox, and this means fast adoption of this browser in all computing circles.

    Not only is Mozilla/Firefox a superior product, but it is built in the best traditions of quality software: simple, extensible and free (libre). The extensions support in Firefox is simply genius and will continue to create an entire industry of software products to enhance and customize the browser for individuals.

    At the risk of fostering an attitude of complacency, I must say that the Mozilla project has breathed new life into the web, and as a side-effect, into the Linux desktop. The war is still far from over, but the tide of this crucial battle has most definitely turned. Things have never looked brighter for Linux (as a server, and a desktop), nor for the computing community as a whole, as a direct result of the tireless and outstanding work of the Mozilla developers. Well met!
  • droves you say!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by actionvance ( 635238 ) * on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:14PM (#8250037)
    "For the first time since Internet Explorer 3.0 was released, I am seeing people switching browsers in droves"

    Droves you say?! is that future sight?! firefox comes up less than WEBTV in most of the webtrends reports I am seeing. I look at the statistics for a number of frequently used (100k visitors a day) sites and do not see firefox gaining users. (note - Ill happily eat my words if the statistics show a significant increase.) but still... droves?

    Joe User does not give a fuck about standards... in fact - he is HAPPY to view websites that have broken table tags and still display in IE. Joe user wants to continue not thinking and have stuff given to him. for that reason alone, Internet Explorer will continue to be the most used windows browser, and until the tides turn on the desktop operating system situation, IE will stay in its comfy place.
    • by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:36PM (#8250352) Homepage
      It only monitors what browser is being used for a subscribing site. As a metric, it's only useful to say that the percentages of browser use is accurate for the types of sites that subscribe to Webtrends as they don't have more than maybe 10% of the web servers out there covered.

      There's lies, damned lies, and statistics. Be careful what you accept as facts and what context the facts are from.
    • 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 etLux ( 751445 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:14PM (#8250038) Homepage
    Grudgingly, albeit, I must admit -- Netscape 7.1 is pretty snappy. Technically, it still doesn't offer a great deal of what IE does... but one wonders sometimes if Microsoft's browserworks elves have gotten a bit carried away, anyway -- as extraordinarily few websites ever actually *use* a great many of those bells and whistles. Anyone for an "IE Light"?
  • 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 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.
    • Re:Browser wars (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:56PM (#8250614)
      I appreciate the contents of your comments but I do get slightly annoyed by people who expect Open Source software to always be released as finished, feature-rich products that do everything every user could desire the moment they install them. This is not the way the Open Source community works.

      If you buy a piece of commercial software, you're making the assumption that you have a product that "does what it says on the box" that the vendor will support with fixes and future upgrades. As a user, you probably have very little input into the future development of that product because future enhancements will be dictated by what is commercially viable to implement.

      If you use a piece of free software, then you must take an entirely different attitude. Firstly, the product may not be a finished one (as is the case with Firefox) but has been released early for anyone who wants to to have a go at using. The expectation from the developers is that you report problems with that software back to them and suggest enhancements. It might be that any enhancements you suggest are not deemed as good ideas by the development team but if enough people request an enhancement, and it's a good one, then it usually gets implemented.

      No software can be "all things to all men" and many browsers users will actually think of Flash as being a pointless graphical exercise that simply consumes bandwidth - neither you or they are right or wrong, it's just a difference of perception of "usability".

      The real point I am trying to make here is that if you're expecting to suddenly wake up one day and find a desktop Linux system that you deem to be ready "for the desktop", then that is the wrong attitude to take, I'm afraid.

      The Open Source developer community does not have an agenda to displace Microsoft from the desktop, despite what many people seem to believe. The community's only agenda is to make good, free software and to listen to users of that software to make it better - remember that much of that free software is available to run on Windows as well as Linux or a BSD OS.

      If you (and others) want to have a Linux OS that you consider is ready to displace Windows from your own machines, then it is your remit to let the Open Source developers know that you need "this feature" because "this commercial package" already has it.

      The only important thing is that you have a choice, albeit that to use an Open Source alternative may require extra effort on your part or being more involved in the development of that alternative by giving feedback as to what you want out of it.

      The so-called "revolution" in software is not just about free software but a change in the mindset of the people that use software. Although there has always been an "underground" Public Domain/Shareware/Free Software/Open Source movement, most people have gotten into the mindset of going into their local computer store and browsing the shelves of pre-packaged software products until they find something that fits their needs at a price they're prepared to pay, exactly as they would select food products at the local supermarket - perfectly fine if that's the way you want it.

      However, you do now have a voice in getting the software you want if you care enough about it and speak up enough - that's the mindset change.

  • 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.
    • by BenjyD ( 316700 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:27PM (#8250217)

      Is the reason it gets nowhere near the press Mozilla does that Opera is not open source?

      Erm, yes. Opera isn't free beer or speech. Open source projects can't be bought by MS, can't be destroyed in the way MS did to Netscape.

      Hence the article - the web browser is absolutely key to the desktop market, and this time we're wise to what a bad idea relying on a company (however well intentioned) to supply that key component is.

    • by bogie ( 31020 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:43PM (#8250459) Journal
      Short answer, Opera is closed source and payware. Nobody wants to see some small company in Norway get control over the browser market. We've been down that path and the result is a browser that is bug ridden and hasn't been updated in years. In case you don't know what I'm talking about its Internet Explorer. Who wants to see yet another commercial entity force its ever whim upon us just because they have a majority. With Mozilla if we don't like where the project is heading we just fork it. With Opera there is no out.

      To borrow a phrase "The Future is Open". Nobody wants to root for something like Opera when a better Open Source alternative is out there. Opera is exactly what the IT world is heading away from where possible. Also you won't see a closed source browser like Opera riding on the coat tails of the Linux Desktop revolution, however slow that may be.

      Lastly and to go back to my first statement Opera costs money. Its been ingrained in consumers heads since the 90's that browsers are Free. If Mozilla costs money you could bet that it never would have stood a chance and IT Press would not be rooting for it.

      Frankly Opera just don't have much of a future for general Internet browsing.
  • by seldolivaw ( 179178 ) <> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:20PM (#8250129) Homepage
    Tabbed browsing is addictive, standards support is wonderful, but the feature that makes people go "oh, this is SO much better than Internet Explorer!" is the automatic popup blocking. I don't have to sell any of the other features to the people I recommend FireFox to; they discover them on their own.

    My only current quibble is the new way FireFox handles download in 0.8... I liked that "launch" button dammit!
  • 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 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.

  • IIRC they have suspended further development of MSIE and will only release security patches.

    This is a far cry from the days when hundreds of developers worked on making MSIE one of the fastest and smartest browsers out there.

    You really have to wonder whether it was worthwhile for Microsoft. What would have changed if Netscape had continued to sell their browser? Fewer people using Windows? Hardly. A less powerful browser platform? Not really: the browser never could be the operating system.

    Personally I thought the whole browser war was part of the same hype that caused Oracle to invest so much in web terminals, or whatever they called them.

    The browser is just one more applet, fundamentally. Comes in all shapes and sizes, and so long as it respects the rules, no-one cares what logo it shows in the top corner. I come here for Slashdot, not for the browser.

    So, since development on Mozilla and its cousins continues unabated, it's only a matter of time before Microsoft start to play catch-up. Will they, I wonder? What can they gain?
  • by Killswitch1968 ( 735908 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:23PM (#8250168)
    Way back when, Microsoft poured tons of money into IE to kill of Netscape, Netscape was simply too entrenched. "Bundling" helped but people would have downloaded Netscape if it was indeed a significantly better product.

    Fast forward to today. The only looming threats are Opera and Firefox. The problem with all Open Source is that they have absolutely no marketing. It solely relies on word of mouth. 1 person tells another, who tells his friends, etc. and the usage theoretically increases exponentially (subject to gross errors of course). But even exponential growth is tiny if the current user base is small.
    Until the Firefox usage rates increases to a threatening rate MS will sit on its shoddy browser and milk it for all its worth.

    I'm sure MS knows FireFox is better, but why spend money to update their browser when the competition can't effectively communicate to a target market? A great product is no good if no one knows about it. Eventually the 'diffusion' of FireFox will increase enough to cause MS to grudgingly update. Then you will see a TRUE browser war.
  • I'm still lost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr. Darl McBride ( 704524 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:23PM (#8250170)
    Serious question: Why is Firefox supposed to be "better" than Mozilla?

    Firefox takes away the master password from the personal security manager, so it's just as much of a personal liability as IE if your machine's compromised. This makes it a spectacularly bad idea for the office if you deal with sensitive websites, and for casual home user who may not know security well.

    Firefox takes dozens of basic features like animated GIF removal away from the configuration panel -- instead you have to know what undocumented value to insert in a hidden configuration screen. Even Internet Explorer offers this option in a mouse-accessible location!

    Why are the Firefox folks hiding features? Why not add an "advanced options" chevron for the things you think only 2% of users use? Removing 50 options from the mainstream configurator altogether means that you've disappointed a different 2% of your users with each new annoyance.

    • Re:I'm still lost (Score:5, Informative)

      by dhamsaic ( 410174 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:07PM (#8250772)
      Serious question: Why is Firefox supposed to be "better" than Mozilla?

      It's smaller, faster. The UI is more easily configurable. It doesn't include an email app, WYSIWYG HTML editor or IRC client that I'm never going to use. For fellow Gentoo users, it compiles faster. Default theme sucks less than Mozilla's.

      Firefox takes dozens of basic features like animated GIF removal away from the configuration panel -- instead you have to know what undocumented value to insert in a hidden configuration screen. Even Internet Explorer offers this option in a mouse-accessible location!

      This is being worked on. Firefox is not complete. It is not even "One dot Oh". Firefox is incomplete software. The GUI for preferences is slowly but surely getting better. Mozilla has more people working on it than Firefox does. Eventually Firefox will supplant Mozilla as the official browser. Eventually. Not yet.

      If you don't like it, don't use it.
  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:25PM (#8250192) Homepage
    ...and MSIE is still dominating the market. Firefox (sigh) is an excellent product, but very few are using it all the same. If anything, it's the success of Linux that is their core - if there hadn't been a real need to get a good browser on the Linux platform, I don't think they'd be anywhere near where they are today.

    But, as long as the standards are winning, I really don't care what browser is winning. Personally I prefer Opera, but it's yet another of those browsers that are "not MSIE". And as long as there's many enough of us, hopefully Microsoft can't embrace and extend.

    Though I fear what will happen once the DRM shit comes. "This page requires Internet Explorer 7.0 with Enhanced Content Security Pack(TM) running on a Trusted Computing System(TM). Please upgrade to take full advantage of our site."

    I only hope Linux will push through and become at the very least a minority they can't ignore before that window of opportunity closes. Once shut out of the market, there's no easy way coming back in.

  • 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 mm0mm ( 687212 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:35PM (#8250338)
    Even if a good number of Windows users come to realize uselessness of IE after all years and begin switching, the story is not over yet. There still are very many sites that are readable only with IE, and for these sites Windows/IE is the standard, regardless of w3c. Not to mention WMP9 and DRM, Microsoft has planted enough propriatery lock-ins to the Internet in the last several years so that it is impossible to get rid of IE (and Win) over night. I hope none of commercial mp3 download sites using IE/WMP [] will become a success, as they are endorsing this business strategy.

    Maybe I'm too pessimistic. At least I can wish that the world is better place than what I think it is.
  • by tiger99 ( 725715 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:37PM (#8250366)
    "The Gecko layout engine seems unbreakable and is reportedly more standards compliant than Internet Explorer." The understatement is the latter part of the sentence, for those who may be new to this issue.

    The Convicted Monopolist, having supposedly wiped out opposing browsers, have been utterly negligent with Incompetent Exploder for years now. It has fallen way behind in useful features, and it never made any attempt at standards compliance. As for the security holes..... I know they claimed the other day that it was now the most secure because they had fixed so many problems, but anyone who has ever done any software QA will know the utter incompetence of statements like that, in fact the number of bugs discovered is more likely to correlate with th elack of quality of the underlying code, much of which still remains, so it is almost certainly still very bad indeed. IE was another case of "decommoditising the protocols", as described in the infamous Halloween Memos, delibarately breaking standards compliance and reducing everything to the lowest common denominator of quality and interoperability.

    The big problem is that ignorant or indolent web designers have churned out buggy code that works (sort of) in Inept Eradicator, but will fail in any standards-compliant browser, the closest to that ideal of standards compliance being Mozilla, Opera and Konqueror (not in any order, and apologies to any I missed). Some designers have apparently used that other utterly useless M$ product, Frontpage, which AFAIK has never had a good review in any magazine. Standards compliance is absolutely essential, that is why the Web grew so quickly, but now growth is jeapordised by the ill-defined non-standard set by the Monopolist and the fact that incompetents have chosen to work to it.

    The way forward is of course to make sites which are fully standards-compliant (relatively easy, there are lots of better tools than Frontpage, some of them free, and a free validation service at The trash that went before such as IE is best forgotten, otherwise we will forever be infested with bugs, security holes and Billisms. (A Billism is a feature which is illogical, unwanted and ineptly implemented, which forces itself upon you because Sir Bill presumes to know better than you what you want to do. Word is particularly full of Billisms.)

    Mozilla and its relatives, not forgetting Netscape is an excellent base from which to move forward once more, without deviating into the closed, unstable and constantly changing world of Illegal Monopolies and their badly deficient producta. (Point to ponder - a monopoly is only necessary when a company can not succeed on the strenghts of its products, therefore th eneed to create one is in fact an admission of abject failure.) I use Mozilla at home, as do all my friends, and we are all quite keen to recommend it to others. It has also been getting favourable reports in the press. Long may it continue.

  • by krmt ( 91422 ) <therefrmhere AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:43PM (#8250457) Homepage
    Wow, that article brings back memories. Anyhow, the fact that the population doesn't use or know about mozilla or firefox right now isn't a big deal. They'll continue to use IE because that's what they know. They even do this on the Mac (which is really sick, given IE's crappy state on the Mac).

    When Linux starts to move in to more and more corporate desktops, people won't be able to rely on their IE habit anymore, and will be forced to use a Linux browser. This is when you'll start to see it in greater force.

    And even further down the line, when Linux starts to invade the home desktop space also, we'll be glad the Mozilla project (and the KDE/KHTML project) has been around for so long. These things will come, it's only a matter of time.
  • Shipping News (Score:4, Insightful)

    by epine ( 68316 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:43PM (#8250466)

    I'm rather unimpressed by this about face. I thought the original artical back in 1999 was way off base.

    The author seems to have taken the Shipping News to heart.

    "imminent storm threatens village"
    But what if there's no storm?
    "village saved from deadly storm"

    Only it's worse, because the deadly storm was entirely manufactured by a combination of personal insecurity, unrealistic expections, and a "complain until some one else fixes it" mentality.

    It was obvious to me that the Mozilla developers were going to have to pay the price for a few years to get their house in order before their hard work became obvious from the external perspective.

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

    It always saps my strength when management runs around saying "nothing is happening fast enough" when I've just spent a month of long hours excavating down to the bedrock.

    Just what is this guy taking credit for?

    "falling sky threatens village"
    But what if sky doesn't fall?
    "village saved from deadly sky"

    It doesn't get much worse than that.
  • No one mentionned this ?

    Ad-blocking with Mozilla is GREAT. See

    It even works with Slashdot ads....
  • by tippergore ( 32520 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:22PM (#8250988) Homepage
    I'm using Firefox right now as a matter of fact, but I don't know where they're going with their icon designs...

    the new logo appears to be a gigantic fox humping the earth []

    I wonder if that's the old IE 2 earth icon he's humping?

  • 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 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.

  • "Firefox" catches (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:50PM (#8251341) Homepage
    I think it's interesting to see all the people saying how they use Firefox, love Firefox, tell their friends about Firefox, etc. When a mere 50 hours ago they had yet to even hear or see the name.

    For all the handwringing and then the grousing about the name change, if /. is any indication, it seems to be going over pretty well.

  • by InvisiBill ( 706958 ) <.slashdot. .at.> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @07:28PM (#8254348) Homepage

    css/edge []

    This site showcases some amazing stuff, all done with standard HTML and CSS. No Javascript, no (specific browser)-only code. That doesn't mean it works in all browsers, as the different versions of IE have varying bugs and/or missing implementations. This site is flat-out proof that the internet doesn't need the majority of proprietary code that sites use. The fact of the matter is that in most cases, the author used the easy way (auto-generated proprietary code) as opposed to the right way.

    Demo [] and Demo-IE [] are a good example. IE does get it mostly right, but not quite. On the complexspiral pages, you can see again that IE doesn't do the background image the way it's supposed to.

    This is a great site. It's 100% standards-compliant (i.e. it follows the rules set up to ensure proper operation of the web), does some neat visual stuff, and points out IE's flaws all at once.

Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982