Remember the Netscape browser, well the remains have been resurrected as Mozilla Firefox and it is beginning to make a dent in Microsoft’s dominance. The new browser written mostly by freelance programmers and run as an open source project is taking away about 1% a month from Microsoft. Microsoft’s rating went down from owning 95% to 92% of the browser market since Firefox was introduced. While these don’t seem like big numbers it does show that people unhappy with the spyware, security leaks, and other issues and are looking for alternatives.
So how do you make money on giving something away, Netscape’s original arguments was that Microsoft was giving Internet Explorer away and killed the browser market? Frankly I really don’t know on this one, while other browsers such as Opera do charge for their product I don’t know who is buying it. Computer users now expect computers to come with a browser, basic email client and a way to communicate with the Internet, in my opinion they should be included. What caught my attention was this subject made the local paper on the business section and had a weird Samson vs. Goliath theme. While I get excited about the projects I work on, I also realize that the enthusiasm I feel does not spread too far beyond a couple of friends.
The good news is that this should hopefully make Microsoft pay more attention to its browser. Microsoft has had a monopoly so long that no real innovations have been made since version 4. The competition should at least attract their attention, and if they haven’t gotten the message by now realize that things sneaking in through your browser is not a good thing.
A few items to note about Firefox is that it doesn’t run pages with Microsoft’s ActiveX controls, so you will still need to keep Explorer installed (or boycott those pages). The product seems stable and user friendly, has some really cool features that should be in Explorer, and it is a little more secure. Since it is not a big target yet you can expect security threats to still be an issue at some point, Microsoft has a lot of hackers gunning for it. You can run both Firefox and Explorer, just pick one to be your default browser and you should be all set to go against big corporations.