Mozilla’s Firefox project has just released version 0.9.
While the story itself is interesting, theres an interesting thread evident in the comments posted by readers. A lot of them wrote about how they’ve moved to other browsers, mainly Mozilla or Thunderbird – which is great! It has been months since this exploit was discovered and Microsoft has not fixed it yet. Meanwhile, users are switching away from IE, learning that Mozilla is a perfect replacement for it, and will be telling their friends about it.
First concerns the current stagnation of Microsoft’s web browser. While other browsers such as Mozilla, Konqueror, and Safari sport surfer friendly features such as pop-up blocking and tabbed browsing, IE has been stuck at version 6.0 longer than I was in college it seems. Bill addresses his critics saying,
"How could we ignore the browser?," Gates responded. ‘The Explorer is fully integrated with the operating system, take it away and the OS grinds to a halt. When you call up Help, you’re using the browser. In Office 2003 instead of going to the local files, the browser will go online and fetch the latest documents." Without going into details, Gates says he sees opportunities for reading and annotation capabilities in Internet Explorer. However, the industry seems more concerned about software talking to other software, Gates said, than about software talking to the screen. "XML is going to be the key technology here too."
Notice how he didn’t answer the question? He talks about what things the future browser might do and the capabilities he does talk about have nothing whatsover to do with browsing the web. Reading Windows Help files? Reading and annotation capabilities? Come on. It’s clear that he doesn’t care about following standards and interoperating in a heterogenous environemnt like the web.
The second item is quite amusing in a deja-vu, haven’t-we-heard-that-before kind of way. When talking about 64-bit computing he says,
Gates also doesn’t seem to have a lot of faith in 64 bit technologies in the consumer space. "64 bit is coming to desktops, there is no doubt about that," he said. "But apart from Photoshop, I can’t think of desktop applications where you would need more than 4 gigabytes of physical memory, which is what you have to have in order to benefit from this technology. Right now, it is costly."
For the record, this sounds a lot like a quote that’s been attributed to him before about High Memory in DOS: "640K ought to be enough for anybody. " Although there is some doubt about the veracity of said quote, he won’t be able to deny saying he can’t fathom needing 4GB of physical memory. I’ll ask him about that when I’m playing a photo-realistic first-person-shooter.
I won’t try to duplicate the excellent summary Jason has put up of the new Mozilla releases. I’ll just encourage you to go try them out. And if you’re still using IE and Outlook, don’t make me come over there!
Count me in this group of developers who wish Microsoft would fix their broken Internet Explorer. I also wish all you people out there still running IE 5.5 would upgrade too!
But Zeldman warned against wishful thinking, noting that with hundreds of millions of people using Internet Explorer around the world, it would take more than CSS-savvy developers like him and Microsoft’s toolmaker competitors to persuade Microsoft to tend to a battleground it no longer considers contested.
I’m not saying (IE) is not a very good browser–it is,” Zeldman said. “But its CSS support is weaker and buggier than its competitors. We hoped for many years that by submitting bug reports, they would improve it. But they didn’t.”
So until they fix it, do yourself a favor and get yourself Mozila Firebird.
Update: Looks like there are many security holes in Internet Explorer too!
Some people hate when a blog is just a collection of links to other places but here goes…
You can now support Mozilla projects by buying stuff from the Mozilla activism shop
These are all great reasons, and should be enough to convince you to try Mozilla. However, the most important reason in my mind, is that Mozilla is a live product. What I mean by that is that it’s being worked on as we speak and will continue to improve as time goes on. For those of you who don’t know, as of a few months ago, Microsoft pulled the plug on Internet Explorer, so there won’t be any updates to that browser for the time being, and Netscape is dead.
When it is next updated chances are that it will be even more tied into the operating system — some future version of Windows. You might be wondering what is wrong with that. Well, take a look at your operating system, and the operating system you have at work. If you are like me, on a Windows system at work, you are way out of date. I’m on Windows 2000. You? To get an updated version of Internet Explorer you might very well have to pay for it. In 2005. See what I mean?
As I understand it, Web Panels will be Firebird’s version of the Mozilla/Netscape Sidebar. If, like me, you mostly associate that with the AOLish push content and stock quotes that shipped as the default Sidebars in Netscape, it’s time to think again.
The next time you’ll get a new browser from Microsoft is when you shell out money for Longhorn. Realistically, sounds like we won’t see significant uptake of Longhorn for another five years. Windows users, stuck with a browser that isn’t advancing, will look to alternatives, like Mozilla, Mozilla’s Firebird Project, or Opera. These browsers already provide better standards compatibility which makes web developers happy, and pop-up blocking, better security, and tabbed browsing which should make surfers happy.
Tim bray analyzes the situation much more in-depth in his The Door is Ajar piece.
I’ve been trying out Mozilla’s Thunderbird standalone email program at work. For two reasons: it feels faster and more responsive, to try to ween myself off of the Mozilla bundle which consumes a lot of memory. I should check out Firebird next.
Anyway, one feature of Thunderbird is spell-checking, which catches a lot of typos for me. Today I saw this amusing mistake:
After downloading virtually every Mozilla release over the last three years, this is the first browser I’m actually going to make my default web browser. All the little problems are fixed. It loads fast. It’s not ugly and clunky. My beloved Alt+D/Ctrl+Enter work perfectly. NT challenge/response authentication is supported. And there are new features, too: tabbed browsing, which is better than it sounds. Incremental search, which is brilliant and I already can’t live without. Text size adjustments that always work. A download manager. Excellent cookie management. Oh, and no more whack-a-mole, the reason I’ve been trying to switch for so long in the first place.