Firefox Breaks 1 Billion Mark To Challenge IE


Mozilla Firefox, the open-source challenger to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, passed the 1-billion download mark on 31 July, with a Website and Twitter feed marking the occasion

Mozilla’s Firefox browser hit 1 billion downloads on 31 July, with the open-source foundation using the occasion to trumpet itself as a viable alternative to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

On 3 Aug, Mozilla plans to launch a Website to mark the achievement; details of the site content are under wraps, but the foundation plans on highlighting “how global and diverse our community has become,” according to a posting on a corporate site. Mozilla also set up an account on Twitter counting towards that 1-billion mark.

At the moment Firefox hit that milestone, the browser was being downloaded some 24 times per second. Since its original release in 2002, Firefox has slowly managed to gain market share in the consumer market. A report by research firm StatCounter in early July found that the various versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer held 54.4 percent market share, down from 65.8 percent in March 2009, while the next-to-newest version of Firefox, 3.0, held a 27.6 percent market share.

Those numbers doubtlessly have shifted since Mozilla’s release of Firefox 3.5, which included new features such as support for HTML 5, JSON and Web worker threads, on June 30. It followed the release by announcing an upcoming patch, Firefox 3.5.1, that would include fixes to the JavaScript engine, TraceMonkey, and adjust how the browser wins in Windows XP. Since its release, more than 8 million copies of Firefox 3.5 have been downloaded.

But Firefox’s adoption by the consumer market seems much more assured than for the enterprise, where IT administrators have voiced concerns about whether their specialized business applications will run on browsers aside from the “approved one” that many corporations select.

IT administrators may also have issues with general compliance and browser security, particularly if the enterprise in question engages in secure online transactions. The use of a non-approved browser that becomes compromised could also potentially open an enterprise to lawsuits.

However, although Internet Explorer continues to dominate the enterprise market, with a 78.0 percent market-share by December 2008, Firefox managed to increase its own share to 18.2 percent during that same period, according to StatCounter.

Firefox remains well ahead of Google Chrome, which StatCounter estimated as having a 2.0 percent market share, and Apple Safari, which owned a 1.4 percent market share. The research firm’s accompanying report to those numbers suggested that enterprise integration of new browsers could lead to increased productivity, as workers utilised those applications’ latest enhancements to better leverage Web-based applications.