Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The IE Killer: The global fan club of Mozilla’s Firefox

As a loyal Firefox user, I can tell you that it does not surpise me at all that Firefox version 3 is creating such a huge buzz.

A website called 'Spread Firefox' is running a drive to encourage web users to sign up and pledge to download the browser on its launch day. There are now almost one million people who have signed up. Between 100,000-500,000 pledges originating from the U.S; then the most pledges come from Brazil and Poland, which each have between 50,000-100,000 people ready to download Firefox 3.0. In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Egypt stand out.

Jordan, somewhat dissapointingly, has only around 300 pledges- I am one of them. Still, we are ahead of some Arab countries!

Anyway, the highly anticipated launch is set for sometime in mid-June, when the company expects about 1.6 million downloads in a single day.

Meanwhile, Mozilla announced a “public preview release” of Firefox 3.0 last week which is available for download. The idea is to get developer testing and community feedback on the new features and the claimed “dramatic improvements in performance, memory usage and speed”, prior to the big launch day.

Mozilla are saying tha Firefox 3 includes one-click bookmarking, a smart location bar, phishing and malware protection, a instant site ID info, built-in spell checking, session restore and full zoom and a choice from over 5,000 add-ons that help you customize your browsing experience.

Firefox currently has a market share of about 20% and over the years has continued to gain ground on Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which still enjoys an the lion’s share of the market.

Something worries me, though. I have had the recent misfortune of upgrading- if you can to call it that- to Windows Vista which has actually slowed down my productivity. Although this processor-hogging operating system is running on a state-of-the-art Intel Centrino Core Duo 8300 processor, it’s so slow!

Because I am a dedicated user of Firefox, and a fan of open source in general, I have noticed that Vista is not treating my favourite browser nicely, and that Explorer (IE) on Vista may actually be faster!

I don’t want to accuse Microsoft of anything, so I shall assume that the Mozilla team are still getting their act together on how to make Firefox run effectively on Vista, and maybe version 3 will take care of that.

Yet, there’s the slight doubt in my mind that Vista is intentionally not Firefox friendly. I hope not.

Otherwise, I’ll have another good reason to switch to Linux, and so will millions of users worldwide.

In the mean time, and till we figure out this Firefox-Vista situation, join the global revolution of free, user-friendly software and sign up for the Firefox 3 launch, and discover life beyond IE. n



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