Mozilla Launches Firefox 1.0

By Matthew Hicks  |  Print this article Print


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Bringing the open-source Web browser out of test mode, Mozilla hopes to reach everyday users and extends its market reach.

Mozilla Firefox 1.0 has launched following a two-month preview that drew 8 million downloads of the alternative Web browser.

Early Tuesday morning, the Mozilla Foundation made Firefox 1.0 available for download. With the browser, the open-source development project hopes to attract more everyday Web users and snag 10 percent of the market in another year.

Mozilla in September released a preview of Firefox 1.0, which included most of the browser's final features. The latest release follows two release candidates in as many weeks and incorporates a range of bug fixes.

Firefox's features include tabbed browsing for viewing multiple Web pages in one window, Live Bookmarks for viewing RSS feeds and pop-up blocking. The browser runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

"It's a set of things you would want in a browser if you sat down and really thought about it," Mozilla President Mitchell Baker said.

The Version 1.0 release of Firefox comes after some delays. Developers had originally slated the full release for mid-September but opted instead to release a preview in order to fine-tune Version 1.0.

Firefox is part of the foundation's focus on discrete applications rather than its namesake application suite. Along with the browser, Mozilla later this month plans to launch a 1.0 version of its Thunderbird e-mail client, according to the project's road map. Last week, the Mountain View, Calif.-based foundation released Thunderbird 0.9.

Baker said she expects users and distributors of the Mozilla suite to continue to develop features for it but that the foundation does not plan to port all new Firefox or Thunderbird features to the suite.

"There may be some crossover, but our real focus is going to be [on] the new products," Baker said.

Next Page: Grassroots marketing effort.

Firefox has gained increasing attention since its 1.0 preview, and the foundation has expanded its marketing efforts. It launched a Web site, called Spread Firefox, dedicated to grassroots marketing. It also raised $250,000 from more than 10,000 donors for a yet-to-be-published advertisement in the New York Times.

Firefox accounted for 3 percent of the U.S. browser market share in the latest report from Web analytics provider WebSideStory Inc. Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer still dominated with 92.9 percent, but it had fallen 2.6 percentage points since June.

Read more here about Internet Explorer losing more market share to open-source rival Mozilla.

Mozilla's market-share goal for Firefox is for it to reach 10 percent by 2005, a level that would compel more Web sites to support Firefox and Web standards, Baker said.

"That's a large number of people and a large enough number of people that if you're running a Web site, you don't want to be turning away that number of people," Baker said.

Even with its gains, Mozilla still could face challenges in convincing enterprise developers to support the Firefox browser for their intranet and public Web sites. Harley Manning, a research vice president at Forrester Research Inc., said he rarely hears from his enterprise clients about whether they should support Firefox for their sites.

"Large companies want fewer browsers to worry about, not more," he said in an e-mail interview. "So how difficult will it be to convince developers to support Firefox? Since no one wants to do extra work there will have to be an extremely compelling reason (like you broke the site for 25% of the user base) or virtually no effort."

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Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for eWEEK.com, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for eWEEK.com. Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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