Browser

Will Firefox 3.0 rekindle the browser wars?

Firefox 3.0 has finally launched. Will it relaunch the browser wars of the 90's? Take our poll and see what other TechRepublic members think.

June 17th is Download Day for Firefox 3.0. That's the day that Mozilla.org is using for the launch of Firefox 3.0 with the intention of gaining the Guinness World Record for most downloaded software program in a day. This should be a pretty easy record to beat, because as far as I can tell, no one holds the record yet.

Firefox 3.0 has been heralded as a major rerelease of Firefox, adding some new capabilities while addressing some lingering problems. One of the biggest problems that Firefox 3.0 is supposed to address is the nasty memory leak that Firefox 2.0 suffers from. I've noticed it to be not unusual for Firefox processes to consume over 256Mb of memory while doing normal Web surfing. This occurred with both Linux and Windows versions, so it wasn't a problem isolated to one OS or another. I haven't done any direct comparison between Firefox 2.0 and 3.0 for memory usage yet, but right now I have two windows open with a total of  4 tabs, and Firefox 3.0 is chewing up 145Mb, which doesn't bode well.

Not to be left out, Microsoft is working on the next version of Internet Explorer -- IE8.  It's not supposed to launch until sometime in the second half of 2008, so Firefox 3.0 will have a little head start. IE8 promises better compliance with Web standards, faster loading times, and new features like WebSlices.

Of course, that's not to say that Microsoft and Mozilla are the only players in the game. Apple has Safari, not only for the Mac but also for Windows. And there's Opera, which is now up to version 9.5.

The business impact of browsers

Back in the 90s there was a huge pitched battle between Netscape and Microsoft for control of the browser. At the time, Microsoft was concerned that the Internet would render operating systems irrelevant. Netscape ruled the Internet through its Navigator browser, which ultimately became Firefox.

Businesses were trapped between the two programs. Web sites had to be designed to support one of the platforms or the other, which lead to confusion. Finally, when IE finally overcame Netscape's challenge, businesses standardized on IE and started using IE technologies like Active X on Web applications.

Security problems with IE, Active X, and other Microsoft technologies opened the window a crack for Firefox to regain acceptance a few years ago. Now Mozilla.org has launched Firefox 3.0, riding the success of Firefox 2.0. Even though Microsoft still has a 75% market share of the desktop, many businesses have defected.

What's your take?

Are the browser wars completely irrelevant? Or does Firefox 3.0, on top of the lackluster response to Vista, represent the possibility of a crack in the Microsoft fortress? Take the poll below and sound off in the Comment section.

15 comments
chee
chee

"but right now while writing this blog entry, I have two windows open with at total of 4 tabs, and Firefox 3.0 is chewing up 145Mb, which doesn???t bode well." This is BAD.

LBiege
LBiege

... if not completely removed. It grew up to 400M memory usage easily in FF2 w/ 50 tabs or so and stayed there even if I closed most of them. Now it's around 280 and it DOES consumes less after closing a few tabs. I won't call it a good job since the problem shouldn't exist in the first place, but at least I can say Mozilla is making progress.

akfaka
akfaka

Stop using Miscrosoft's garbage. Does anyone really believe IE 8 will be better? I have tested out IE 8 beta and find it buggy. But of course it's only a beta, so I will give it the benefit of the doubt for now. It might be more standard compliance, but just from experience using Miscrosoft's products, they are nothing but craps, (from MS works to IE to OS.) and what's worse is that they try to manipulate the market with their garbage and even more sadly is that so many people actually use their trash. I here by calling all web developers to filter out any versions of IE on their website and encourage visitors to download FF, Opera or Safari.

shellyahu
shellyahu

Can't really say - bug or feature? Zoom in/out on one tab affects -ugh- ALL tabs :-(

TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827

I.E.6 was the best MS was offering, having already disbanded the I.E. team. Along came FF, approaching 40% in Europe, 20% in North America, but also, along came I.E.7 and now I.E. 8. I think you mean to ask, will FF 3 take the browser wars to the next level (FF 3.0 eventually surpasses I.E. on the desktop). I would say it's 50-50. Many will just continue using the included I.E. 6, but performance of FF (currently 3x faster than I.E. 8 beta) may make it the standard for those who know. Honestly, I think the only thing that prevented I.E. from falling below 50% already are Active-X required sites for music, games, etc that kids need. TripleII

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

Hmmm... you're right, that may have been a more specific question. Certainly Firefox 2.0 put Mozilla back in the game. At the same time however during the late 90's the fight was much more intense. The percentages were completely reversed with Netscape having market share in the 70's and 80's with IE nowhere to be found. Then Microsoft ate Netscape's lunch while it crashed and burned. Most of the use of Firefox now comes from home users. Businesses still often cling to IE and have built internal sites around it. The war really begins when business starts defecting back to Mozilla.

bcarpent1228
bcarpent1228

I use Firefox for everything but MS downloads and checking IE compatibility. Even with the IE option Firefox doesn't handle certain MS websites. I agree with the comment on MS non-standards - but they have promised (again) that the (next) version will follow (all) standards (absolutely). Annoying to keep coding exceptions on websites.

xousnet
xousnet

"Businesses were kind of trapped between the two programs. Web sites had to be designed to support one of the platforms or the other, which lead to confusion." This is part of the entire problem. The whole point of standards are that they are standard for everyone not just everyone except Microsoft. Pages should not have to be designed to work in multiple browsers as if the pages are standards compliant the browser should render it correctly.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

Mozilla.org has finally launched Firefox 3.0. With improved speed, new features, and squashed bugs, along with the delays of IE8 and resistance to Vista, there's a small chance that Firefox 3.0 could rekindle the browser wars of the 90's as I mentioned in Decision Central: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/decisioncentral/?p=116 Will your organization use Firefox 3.0? Or is it completely off of the radar?

askell
askell

I`ve been using Beta-5 ever since it was released. It is what was promised. However there are grievances; such as fixed "preferences" like etc. I will not install the FF5 on anything but my software-test unit. I expect the production FF5 is a (M$ like) bloated version of the wellbehaved beta ditto. //Wary

pwarrenz3
pwarrenz3

This is what I have seen as a consultant on client sites. In most IT groups you see the 'techies' using both some with a clear preference for FF. In the business units though most still rely on or use IE, they are less likely to change where using a Windows O/S, yet some of these same business folk are using Macs at home and using their browser (Opera?), go figure. I still use both, but have to. I wish companies like Netflix and others would switch to FF to watch movies online. I keep getting the same dead end responses over and over when I request it. I'm not giving up! After teaching my now 75 year old dad how to use a PC ove rthe last decade, I still cannot get him off of IE. I may try again later this year with FF 3, once it has gone through a 'find da bugs cycle'. Cheers

j1shalack
j1shalack

Firefox 3 Vulnerability Found Nancy Gohring, IDG News Service Five hours after Mozilla officially released Firefox 3.0, researchers found a vulnerability in the new browser. Tipping Point has verified the bug and reported it to Mozilla, Tipping Point said on Wednesday. Since Mozilla is still working on a fix, the researchers won't share details about the problem. Tipping Point ranked the severity of the vulnerability as high, but said that users would have to click on a link in an e-mail or visit a malicious Web page before being affected. The issue affects users of Firefox 3.0 as well as Firefox 2.0. Once the problem is fixed, Tipping Point will publish an advisory on its Web site, it said. Tipping Point found out about the vulnerability through its Zero Day Initiative, which lets researchers earn cash by submitting new vulnerabilities to the company. Once Tipping Point validates the issue, it pays the researcher for the information and notifies the relevant software vendor of the technical details. Mozilla did not respond to a request for comment. Mozilla launched its newest browser on Tuesday along with a marketing stunt that went a bit wrong. The company announced that it wanted to set a Guinness World Record for the largest number of software downloads in a 24-hour period. However, the volume of downloads crippled Mozilla's site, and so customers in the U.S. couldn't begin downloading the software until two hours later than expected. Still, Mozilla said it logged more than 8 million downloads within 24 hours. There is currently no record for number of software downloads in a day, but Mozilla must now wait for review of the stunt by Guinness officials. Link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20080619/tc_pcworld/147277;_ylt=AsV7Nv_i3nWpvlVQUeFTntsRSLMF

Editor's Picks