RealTime IT News

Firefox Makes It Official

The Mozilla Foundation announced today the official release of Firefox 1.0, its much-hyped open source alternative to Microsoft's ubiquitous Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser.

The Mozilla Firefox 1.0 release does not contain any significant feature enhancements beyond the previous versions, which, according to the Mozilla Foundation, was downloaded more than 8 million times.

The 1.0 release is a milestone that means the browser is "feature complete." The core highlights of FireFox remain the same, including its integrated pop-up blocker, tabbed browsing features, RSS support (called Live Bookmarks), integrated search toolbar and an extensible module system for adding functionality to the browser.

The browser also promises more security than Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE), a claim that helped it gain support (CERT) following a string of vulnerabilities exposed in Redmond's browser. But Firefox has not been without its security concern.

In October, research firm security released an advisory about a tabbed browsing vulnerability and one security researcher actually went so far as to say (and prove) that IE's code was more stable than alternatives like Firefox.

However, the application as a whole has been made more stable with numerous bug fixes and incremental performance improvements.

The Mozilla open source browser, from which Firefox is spun, was open sourced by Netscape in 1998. The project spun off from AOL's Netscape division in July 2003 to form the Mozilla Foundation.

It has been a long and somewhat winding road for Mozilla's next-generation Web browser, which has had three names in its short life. It started as Phoenix, and then became FireBird. In February it became Firefox.

But for all of the hype and media attention bestowed upon Firefox in recent months as a potential challenger to the ubiquity of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, its overall market penetration remains relatively small.

The latest numbers from Web analytics firm Websidestory put Firefox penetration at 3 percent. Put together with its Mozilla Suite and Netscape cousins, Mozilla Web browsers accounted for 6 percent of browsers used according to Websidestory.

Mozilla Firefox 1.0 is available for Linux, Windows, and Macintosh as a free download and is licensed under the open source Mozilla Public License.