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Microsoft Not Worried about FireFox 674

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the taking-the-back-seat dept.
didde writes "It seems like our friends in Redmond are quite happy about IE. According to this article, they won't be updating it until Longhorn. My favorite quote would be [We have a very, very innovative set of capabilities that we're putting in the next version. And in the meantime it's an extensible platform, and there will be a set of extensions that Microsoft does as well as others.] Oh boy, are they actually working side by side with the virusmakers and phishers?" That just gives the MozBoys a year head start.
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Microsoft Not Worried about FireFox

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  • by cybermint (255744) * on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:12PM (#11222623)
    Microsoft said the same thing about Linux a while back. It took a while, but they finally admitted that it was infact, a big theat.
    • by DominoTree (803219) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:15PM (#11222645)
      We've also heard them say that FireFox has no features to compete with IE, then admit to never trying FireFox.
    • Theat to whom? MS in the server market? It already was to some extent. Threat to the desktop market? Not for a LONG time if ever.
    • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:38PM (#11222877) Journal
      I'm inclined not to take this at face value. While they are morally lacking and put out some pretty poor (in comparison with the alternatives) software, Microsoft have historically been excellent business people.

      They've already lost the hyped up WinFS, while Spotlight is still on track to arrive in the next few months. People (and governments) are realising that Linux can often do what they need cheaper and faster (OSX can also often do it better, but it costs more and the design types that need it are already using it). Now MS is risking their place in the browser market, which is bigger than it might appear on the surface - once the average grandmother is using a different browser (because the big media told her that a virus would make her computer explode if she didn't) it's putting the thought into everyone's head that maybe there's an alternative to MS, that they don't define computing.

      All of that does not look like good marketing to me, but MS lives on good marketing and little more, so it would appear that there are two possible outcomes here: either MS has something up its sleeve to counteract all of the things going wrong for their image lately, or that they honestly believe in their own untouchability, in which case they might just have a hard fall coming before Longhorn is out the door.
      • by Juanvaldes (544895) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:56PM (#11223050)
        once the average grandmother is using a different browser (because the big media told her that a virus would make her computer explode if she didn't) it's putting the thought into everyone's head that maybe there's an alternative to MS, that they don't define computing.
        As I read this it occurred to me, has MS EVER lost a market once they came to dominate it? Obviously not OS or Office markets. They never owned the server market. Sure they have had some amazing failures and other offerings that any other company would have had to give up on long ago. But has MS ever lost a market like this before?
        • by killjoe (766577) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @07:45PM (#11223472)
          They only dominate in OS and Office software. Obviously monopolies of that magnitude are not going to go away overnight.

          That's not the really important thing though. The really important thing is that they have been unable to leverage those monopolies to gain monopolies in other fields despite trying desparately to do so.

          They have suffered one severe setback another whether it's MSN, MS-TV (whatever the hell that was), set top boxes, MS at work, SQL server, IIS, NT server, Active directory, .NET, sidewalk, xbox, etc.

          Some of those products are successful but none of them have achieved a monopoly which is the only goal for MS that counts.

          As long as MS fails to leverage their monopolies to achieve other the world is a better place.

          In time their current monopolies will erode and wither, all empires fall eventually but the big ones take a while.
          • Don't forget the MS BOB market?
        • by upsidedown_duck (788782) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @07:53PM (#11223536)
          has MS EVER lost a market once they came to dominate it?

          They will. Every single market that Microsoft currently dominates has solid gaining competitors, because the technology is becoming commoditized more and more. Office suites are something people should not have to pay a lot of money for, any longer, as are operating systems. That could be a big one-two punch for Microsoft.

          When in history has there been such a broad line of software products with a common base? Sun JDS, Xandros, Linspire, Red Hat, SuSE, etc. all have the same overall source base plus their value added goodies for their target markets. This should be making Microsoft very very nervous about the future of Windows. No one can really take Windows, customize it, call it their own, and sell it, like people can with open source systems.

        • by AvantLegion (595806) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @08:48PM (#11223966) Journal
          As I read this it occurred to me, has MS EVER lost a market once they came to dominate it? Obviously not OS or Office markets. They never owned the server market.

          You're thinking on too short of a timeframe. MS's market domination really has not been very long. Change is gradual, and 10, 15, 20 years isn't long enough to think in terms of "has this EVER happened?".

        • As I read this it occurred to me, has MS EVER lost a market once they came to dominate it?

          Microsoft no longer dominates the world of talking Barney dolls.

          Of course the Barney partnership was the real PR blunder, all that anti-trust stuff was just people trying to get at Barney through Microsoft.

          I don't think Microsoft is under any threat in the desktop area from Linux any more than they are under threat from Apple. Its actually quite hard to loose a dominant market position in the software industry be

      • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @07:06PM (#11223152)
        What it really boils down to is this. Microsoft knows quite well what Edward Yourdon wrote about "good enough" software. So long as they keep IE "good enough" for the majority of users, they won't get that many defections.

        You might argue that IE isn't "good enough" but for the vast majority of people, it is. At least as far as they're concerned.

        Microsoft staved off a lot of problems with SP2, which really goes a long way toward making IE "almost good enough". So long as they can address major security holes within a decent amount of time, people will be content to wait for all these big changes that will happen in IE7.

        Until web sites start breaking, some major IE related worm comes along that claims 99% of the users systems, or something equally as serious. They won't budge more than a few percentage points.

        Of course it doesn't hurt MS that they have to keep IE around anyway to run Windows Update, or use the help system, run Quicken or a number of other apps.
      • I've been wondering where Microsoft has been. Usually they're cooking _something_ up, whether its good or bad. But it seems like this year they have all but dropped off the map.

        Internet Explorer isn't being updated. .NET is gaining some traction, but its not being hyped anymore, and its definitely not the solution MS was saying it was.

        Windows Server 2003 is a yawn.

        SQL Server hasn't done anything exciting, except come out with a desktop version.

        Anything new in Office?

        On top of that, they are being sla
    • by Eric Giguere (42863) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @07:13PM (#11223211) Homepage Journal

      Here are some articles I wrote related to this topic:

      Eric
    • by GFLPraxis (745118) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @07:44PM (#11223468) Homepage Journal
      Microsoft had BETTER improve IE7. I have it in the latest build of Longhorn (it's still in Alpha so there is a lot of improvement room).

      It's a peice of crap. It's got a few minor improvements over IE6 (popup blocking, more security stuff), but adds:
      1) The buttons are different sizes and placed in strange places to make it look more 'modern', but all it does is confuse the person using it.
      2) On the File-Edit-View-etc bar, the background is light gray and the text is white. Very hard to see.
      3) Back and forward buttons above the File-Edit-View bar, everything else below, and very small.
      4) No major improvements over IE6 SP2.
      5) Slow page load times.
      6) Bloat- FireFox loads twice as fast.

      In short, the current IE7 builds look bleak. Hopefully they'll improve for MS's sake, but otherwise, they're really not doing much other than ripping off Safari's look and rearranging the buttons to make it harder to figure out.
      • But the real question* is:

        Are more standards suppoted? Does it fare well with xhtml sent as xml+xhtml? Does it support (more) CSS2 and CSS3 ?

        *As far as my webdesigner mind goes... As it doesn't matter to me _which_ browser is dominant, as long as it supports standards fully.
  • by geoffrobinson (109879) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:13PM (#11222628) Homepage
    they are probably worried.

    Having an IE monopoly is a lynchpin in their designs for server-side control. Unless I'm completely off-base.
    • Their "designs for server-side control" won't mean squat unless they can dislodge Apache as the market leader, which I don't see happening anytime soon.
    • by nizo (81281) * on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:23PM (#11222737) Homepage Journal
      Thankfully apache kicked their butt here, or else you wouldn't even be able to use any other browser except IE to surf the web. I mean, imagine if microsoft controlled as high a percentage of the web servers as they do browsers.
  • A year?! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Xtifr (1323) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:14PM (#11222633) Homepage
    Just a year's head start? You sure are optimistic about the Longhorn release schedule, aren't you? :)
  • Worse=better (Score:5, Insightful)

    by j_heisenberg (464756) * on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:14PM (#11222636)
    As could be read on Joel on Software [joelonsoftware.com], Webapps are becoming major competition to MS. That's why a better browser is the last thing MS wants. Worse browser = better browser.
  • by exhilaration (587191) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:14PM (#11222642)
    If you're still using an older (more than 6 months since you've patched) web browser, I suggest you check out this browser security check [scanit.be], which will test it for exploits.

    At your own risk, of course. Firefox 1.0PR passed with flying colors.

    • No it didnt, I just tried.

      Firefox 1.0 has 1 high risk vulnerability.


      High Risk Vulnerabilities
      Sun Java Plugin Arbitrary Package Access Vulnerability (idef20041123)
      Description

      Java Plugin allows web browsers to run Java applets. Java plugin may be used by Internet Explorer, Mozilla (and Mozilla-base browsers, such as Firefox), Opera and other browsers.

      When a browser opens a web page that contains a Java applet the browser automatically downloads the applet and runs it locally. To protect the user from ma
    • Opera 7 passed. (Score:3, Informative)

      by eddy (18759)

      Opera 7.54u1 build 3918 passed.

      The Browser Security Test is finished. Please find the results below:
      High Risk Vulnerabilities 0
      Medium Risk Vulnerabilities 0
      Low Risk Vulnerabilities 0

    • by baba (105606)
      Firefox 1.0PR passed with flying colors.

      I had less success with FF 1.0 release for OS X. I tried the test a couple of times, and FF crashed both time midway through the tests.
  • New Exploit found (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Icarus1919 (802533) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:14PM (#11222643)
    This is an article that slashdot rejected from me, but still fairly pertinent.

    Silicon.com [silicon.com] reports that there's a new Trojan named Phel that takes advantage of the Help (get it?) controls in internet explorer. Though the expoit's been known about since October, Microsoft is still "testing" the patch, and isn't expected to release it anytime soon.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:17PM (#11222680)
    What does MS really stand to lose if Firefox gains something like 50% of the browser share? MS isn't making any money off IE, are they? I realize that back in the mid 90's there was a big concern that the Netscape browser could somehow be used to usurp the Windows monopoly, but honestly, is anybody still thinking that an entire OS can be replaced by a web browser?
    • The default homepage (Score:4, Interesting)

      by KalvinB (205500) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @07:05PM (#11223142) Homepage
      Currently the default page for IE is www.msn.com

      If some other browser gets the marketshare then MSN loses exposure which costs MS ad revenue.

      FireFox doesn't offer anything that MS can't offer in IE. It's also far easier to recreate than to innovate. This is why they aren't too worried. It's simply an issue of economic viability as to whether or not MS will implement those features and push the updates out the door.

    • by SlashdotMeNow (799901) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @08:31PM (#11223841)
      MS makes most of it's money from Windows and Office. If they lose Windows and Office they can shut down shop. So they must do whatever they can to protect the income from those 2 areas, and specifically Office because Windows is nothing without Office for the average user.

      Now the problem with the web is that browser-based apps (think gmail) threatens Office and by extention Windows. We live in a time where bandwith is cheap and fast enough to run a high-quality spreadsheet or word processor as a web application. The ONLY thing stopping this from happening is the pitiful state of IE. If they made IE as good as it can be, they'll be opening the floodgates for web-apps that can replace Office.

      If IE matures enough for this to happen, all applications can be web-based and run off ANY COMPATIBLE BROWSER on ANY PLATFORM. Thus I can move my grandma to Linux with Firefox 3.0 and she won't even know that something has changed, because she was already accessing all her apps via a browser. This can also happen if Firefox becomes the de-facto standard browser, and they start implementing all these new and great standards that's waiting to unleash the power of the web-app.

      So that's why IE has changed almost nothing since the monopoly. MS realises that improving it is digging their own grave.

      My company develops software for a specific vertical market. All web-based. It's great for our clients because they can access their data from anywhere, any time. It's great for us because we can upgrade and improve the system whenever we feel like it without sending out upgrade disks. 90% of all support calls we take right now is because of IE (spyware / 'special' toolbars). Lately we've been installing Firefox for all clients when training them, and that's helped a lot.

      So all we can hope for right now is for Firefox to improve their browser as much as possible to try to become the standard (60% of the market would do it I think) before Longhorn. I don't know what MS plans for a browser in Longhorn, but I know it will be bad for all other browsers.
    • by EddWo (180780)
      The standards present/coming to Mozilla based browsers do present a big challenge to MS. People will be able to write web based apps that can use XUL, CSS, SVG, XForms, ECMAScript on the Client and know that it will work exactly the same on every OS because every OS supports a version of Mozilla.

      Since Mozilla is free it makes a lot more sense would for developers to make a version of Mozilla a requirement for a particular product than it would to have Longhorn as a requirement.

      If full SVG and Xforms can a
  • by dotgod (567913) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:19PM (#11222694)
    even if they did consider mozilla a threat, why should they care? even the mozilla users will still need to buy windows.
  • by SuperJason (726019) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:19PM (#11222699) Homepage
    The second F is supposed to be small!! Argh!

    That is all.
  • by Night Goat (18437) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:19PM (#11222705) Homepage Journal
    See, it's comments like this that ought to make the DOJ convict Microsoft. When a company's not afraid of a far superior browser, that's ridiculous. They aren't afraid because of the legions of users who have no idea what a web browser is, and don't need to know, because they just use the browser that's built in. They equate internet with IE. I do tech support for an ISP, and I see this happen all the time. Many people have no idea that they can use other programs to get web pages. And this is because IE is bundled with Windows. It's bullshit that they can get away with this.


    -- Night Goat, a proud Firefox/Safari user

    • The idea that the US is against or will continue to do anything but slaps on the wrist against monopolizers is quaint and old fashioned. Toss in a lagging economy and the deficit and the Republican noise machine will churn out "Why do prosecutors want to hurt America" and every Joe Sixpack will tell me that "America hates success" like they did when MS was on trial before. I believe Bush ran in 2000 saying he would end the MS case in MS's favor.

      So really, lets not be too naive here. The last entity that c
  • by H_Fisher (808597) <hvfisher.hotmail@com> on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:21PM (#11222725)
    ...from like-minded individuals throughout history:

    T. Rex, 30-some odd million years ago: "Mammals? Ha! I'm the biggest predator in town! Why the hell should I worry, I rule this place!"

    Roman generals, c. 200 a.d.: "Barbarians, you say? We've got nothing to worry about. We're the biggest army on the planet. What could possibly go wrong?"

    A Confederate general, 1861: "Those Yankees ain't nothin' to worry 'bout! We'll run 'em back across th' Potomac in a month, then we'll go back to plantin' cotton."

    Adolf Hitler, 1942: "We can fight a war on two fronts! The Russians can't stop us! We're invincible!"

    The Iraqi information minister, 2003: "The Americans will never set foot in Baghdad."

    • The dinosaurs weren't killed off by the mammals. It took millions (tens of millions?) of dinosaur-free years before mammals were more than rats.

      The Roman empire split and the real power had moved to the east, based in Constantinople (Istanbul), long before Rome was sacked. The western empire had been basically abandoned. As I understand it even the "sacking" was nothing like what you think - for a long time it was basically one group coming in and displacing the top tier of society. Some people argue t
  • by af_robot (553885) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:27PM (#11222770)
    Until they have ANY kind of ActiveX enabled by default for all sites FireFox is safe.

    What MS can do quickly is to release quick patch via windowsupdate which will disable all ActiveX by default and allow it only from trusted (whitelisted) sites with a BIG HUGE WARNING like this:

    "I'm a stupid fucking idiot and allow this binary to run without any restriction on my computer.", type: "YES I AM",
    next window: "I do understand what this ActiveX can delete all information, be a virus or spyware and I'm brave enough to Allow This"

    Just like in Windows2003 default IE enhanced security configuration but more user friendly :)
  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:28PM (#11222777) Homepage Journal
    From the article:

    Hachamovitch said he has to balance those concerns with the requests of customers who want new features such as the "tabbed" Web page displays offered by Opera and Firefox.

    "You go through and talk to all these people and ask them what they want out of a browser and there are a lot of conflicting requests around: 'Hey, give me tabs right now' versus 'I want stability, I want a platform that won't break, I want to make sure I have extensability, I want to make sure have manageability,' " he said.


    I'm not sure why he thinks those requirements conflict with each other. The Moz team doesn't ...
  • by zymano (581466) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:29PM (#11222781)
    And the Firefox developers aren't even trying to fix the bugs people want fixed. Like the bug about needing a "FAST BACK BUTTON" like in opera (has over 100 votes at bugzilla and they wont fix it) or even a rewind.

    The Netcraft toolbar type addon which tells you which country a website is from is a good idea. Another idea would be to allow you to report malicious websites and report on history of commercial websites that steal your money.
    • by Jussi K. Kojootti (646145) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @07:09PM (#11223171)
      And the Firefox developers aren't even trying to fix the bugs people want fixed.
      I've watched Mozilla development for a few years now, and I can tell you that this is actually a good thing... By listening to everyone you end up with (among a million other things) a kitchen sink. The developers must follow their own vision, otherwise there is no vision. If that vision turns out to be wrong, someone should fork and prove it.

      Now, I'm not saying your pet enhancement-bug isn't important, just that the devs have decided it's not worth the amount of work at the moment. Remember that there are over 5000 open non-enhancement bugs on the firefox product only...

      Also, the enhancement you're talking about is going to be very, very difficult to implement without breaking stuff. I'm 99% sure that it's not even possible to do it without breaking some valid web-pages with onload and onunload javascript (and no, Opera hasn't succeeded in this, see this [quirksmode.org] for an example). Unless you have a solution for those problems, I suggest you choose a different tone for your critique...

  • by ehack (115197) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:29PM (#11222789) Journal
    Microsoft is Install-driven - they know that however bad the product is, if they can get it installed they will always win, later. Look at how easily they got rid of Netscape !

    A product like Linux is much more dangerous to them, because it fights back at install time, eg. Linspire or Linux server platforms.

    Edmund
  • Head Start? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by __Maad__ (263535) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:29PM (#11222791)
    That just gives the MozBoys a year head start.


    They'll need that head start.. Has anyone here actually tried developing for the Mozilla platform? It isn't a walk in the park. The documentation available on XULplanet, mozilla.org, etc, although improving, is rather sparse and frequently out of date. Even some books on mozilla development are out of date already - RAD in Mozilla (published this year I believe) has some wrong details about XUL tree selections, for example. One thing that the mozilla development community needs badly right now is a php.net, wiki-style website to encourage anyone and everyone to frequently update documentation easily and in small pieces. This is a tremendous amount of work, but I for one would be more than willing to contribute bits and pieces as I come across them. This basic documentation step needs to be done to encourage people to develop sites and applications for the Mozilla platform -- and to a greater extent, more modern w3c standards (DOM2/3,CSS2/3,etc).

    I think that what the Firefox devs have done is an absolutely amazing feat of marketing and UI-cleanup, however, there is a huge amount of legacy code in web applications and scripts and pages in general dedicated to MSIE's own proprietary DOM, ActiveX, and rendering quirks. We need to bring those people to the standards-compliant world and, to a lesser extent, to the Mozilla platform.

    I just don't see that critical mass in the application side of things yet, and that will be part of winning the battle. If XAML and so-forth start to make inroads, we are in trouble.
    • Re:Head Start? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by N7DR (536428) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:52PM (#11223008) Homepage
      They'll need that head start.. Has anyone here actually tried developing for the Mozilla platform? It isn't a walk in the park. The documentation available on XULplanet, mozilla.org, etc, although improving, is rather sparse and frequently out of date. Even some books on mozilla development are out of date already - RAD in Mozilla (published this year I believe) has some wrong details about XUL tree selections, for example. One thing that the mozilla development community needs badly right now is a php.net, wiki-style website to encourage anyone and everyone to frequently update documentation easily and in small pieces. ... This basic documentation step needs to be done to encourage people to develop sites and applications for the Mozilla platform....

      I couldn't agree with this more (and I wish that I hadn't already posted elsewhere in this article, so I could mod this up :-( ).

      I have on three separate occasions started to attempt some some-scale Moz-based Web Service development stuff, armed with books and the lastest available info off the mozdev site. On all three occasions the result was the same: after about eight hours of massaging examples with increasing frustration, I finally admitted defeat and decided to wait until someone else has done something sufficiently similar so I could look at it and figure out how this stuff really works.

      Now, I readily admit that I was doing this simply for fun to try to understand how things like SOAP are supposed to work in Moz -- so I wasn't in the usual panicy desperation mode that absolutely forces one to figure things out at any cost, but even so I found it disheartening that I couldn't simply read an article and example or two and make stuff work.

    • Re:Head Start? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by moosesocks (264553) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @07:23PM (#11223300) Homepage
      Let me add to this.

      In the open source world, DOCUMENTATION IS EVERYTHING.

      Think of it this way... in order for an OSS project to be successful it either needs corporate funding OR good documentation in order for the non-academic types to use it and learn to hack it.

      In this regard, I consider most of the official GNU projects, perl, and many others to be failures.

      PHP has amazingly good documentation. I was able to easily learn PHP only having a basic knowledge of C++ beforehand using only the docs on php.net. They're easy to navigate, pleasant to look at, and readable by NORMAL HUMANS. Now, from what I understand, PHP didn't start out as being much of a superior language to perl, python, asp, and many others... The fact is that php got good because it got popular. Php gor popular because it was easy to use and the docs were top-notch.

      Now move on to Gentoo (no. I'm not a gentoo fanboy and do not have any systems currently running it). By all means, the installation process for gentoo is ASTONISHINGLY complicated and difficult --- without proper documentation. The official installation documentation [gentoo.org] is excellent. It's no wordier than it needs to be, and should be understandable by anyone with a decent amount of experience with windows or mac os. Gentoo's large userbase can easily be credited to its excellent (centralized) documentation and community. In my experience, when I ran into a problem with gentoo, I could find a solution easier than I could with RedHat because the documentation was all in one place, easy to understand, and logically organized. By all means, if gentoo's docs sucked, the project wouldn't exist anymore. Everyone would be scared off. My only gripe was that when I installed it, they gave no warning that it would take about a week on my ancient celron-466. live and learn.

      OS X got tons of little freeware/shareware/oss apps once apple got its act together and started offering decent documentation on cocoa. the number of small independent software companies developing for apple has exploded over the past few years thanks to this.

      As annoying as it is, the M$ office assistant is actually a nice thing to have. It gives short, concise answers to everyday questions with word and excel. Great for people who don't have much computer knowledge. Although most people like them, I don't like microsoft's developer docs...

      now all mozilla needs is decent XUL / devloper documentation. Last time i checked a few months ago, it was virtually non-existant which is a pity, because I think XUL could really take off as an entirely separate entity from mozilla. XUL + Javascript could finally fufill Sun's original dreams for Java to create applications which were small, lightweight, and portable. XUL is to HTML as Applications are to Web Pages (XUL:HTML :: Apps:WebSites) if you catch the drift.

      To get an idea of the power of XUL, check out the Mozilla Amazon Browser which is in all ways a faster and easier method for browsing amazon.

      Also think of the bandwidth savings! Web applications would no longer have to serve entire pages for each request processed.
    • by KevinDumpsCore (127671) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @07:52PM (#11223524) Homepage

      One thing that the mozilla development community needs badly right now is a php.net, wiki-style website to encourage anyone and everyone to frequently update documentation easily and in small pieces.

      Wikis don't work for technical documentation! In order for technical documentation to be usable, it has to be clear, complete, correct, and current. That is the bare minimum. In order for it to be good, it also has to be consistent.

      Wikis don't guarantee any of the above criteria. Wiki advocates have even argued against completeness because it discourages participation. They've also decided against correctness in favor of a neutral point-of-view. Many under-edited contributions from different people also guarantee duplication, contradiction, and inconsistency. If anyone tries to straighten out the mess, then revert wars are the result.

      So take it from a documentation volunteer, the best results are produced by a central maintainer. The maintainer coordinates contributions and edits them with the reader in mind. The maintainer can either be a person or a team, depending on the size of the task.

  • by robyannetta (820243) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:30PM (#11222798) Homepage
    For once in my life, I RTFA all the way through. Gimme a prize.

    Microsoft seems to have fogotten that competition benefits everyone, including their own bottom line.

    I for one, choose to use Firefox. Not because it's open source, but because it works for me.

  • by MikShapi (681808) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:39PM (#11222894) Journal
    A common line of thought seems to be that Mozilla/Firefox is more secure than IE, virus/exploit-wise.

    This is probbably true, at this point in time.

    A common misconception (which happens to be one of my pet peeves) is that this is because microsoft write bad code, microsoft devs are not security minded or are incompetent, open source code is better code just because it is open source, or Microsoft are in league with virusmakers, and various other manner of of BS.

    Here's the news people: Microsoft can afford as good a development team as anyone else. They can afford to hire extra devs for their QA teams as well as their dev teams, QA devs that read code, something many software houses just hire techs that know mercury products for. They can afford to have two (probbably more) devs per line of code - one to stick back and fix bugs, another to run ahead with the next generation of code. Not many software houses can do that (thus affording a larger dev attention span to bugs) either.

    And Open Source is as prone to bad methodology, bad coding, non-security-minded coding, bugs and what-have-you as any other code. OS devs make mistakes too.

    The advantage MS has in many highly-paid devs is offset by open source being exposed to immense scrutiny levels by being open, but, having seen quite a bit of OS, this doesn't always guarantee someone will volunteer to fix it.

    I don't think either has a check-mate advantage over the other in this respect.

    Today, Firefox's security advantage lies in one single factor: The very little attention it is getting from the people who write exploits.

    Once it makes more sense for them to assume mostly FF browsers will be running their malware, they *will* write malware for FF, open source or no open source. They *will* find ways to exploit FF, or any number of its (sometimes very-widely-installed) extensions, which do not undergo the same code scrutiny of the core FF team. They *will* find ways to exploit plugins, which are often not Open Source at all and are as exploitable as IE in this sense.

    All it takes is a critical mass installbase for FF, and that cozy misleading feeling of security will fly right out the window.

    My 2 cents.
    • by IpSo_ (21711) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @07:13PM (#11223206) Homepage Journal
      I don't see how your argument holds any water.

      Take Apache for example, just because it has a "critical mass installbase" doesn't make it any less secure then it was previous to that point.

      Regardless, in my opinion anyone who thinks open source software is more secure than closed source is fooling themselves. In both cases human beings are writing the code. The big advantage open source has is that a fix can be released the instant it is completed. No formal QA teams to go through, no legal department to consult, no inefficient policies to follow, no press releases required to put a positive spin on a negative event need to be written, and no investors to consider, it is just done.

      For me, thats where the "cozy feeling" comes from.

    • by roca (43122) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @07:16PM (#11223237) Homepage
      > Today, Firefox's security advantage lies in one
      > single factor: The very little attention it is
      > getting from the people who write exploits.

      People keep saying that, but you can't prove it until we get equal market share with IE. I'm looking forward to that.

      In fact there are lots of other reasons why Firefox is more secure than IE. For example:
      -- We use a string class library for almost all strings that flat-out prevents buffer overflows associated with those strings. My impression is that the IE code mostly does not.
      -- IE is designed to be lax in its interpretation of the HTML, CSS, HTTP headers etc that it receives. Gecko is designed to be strict --- well, as strict as possible while making it possible to view 99% of the Web. IE's approach leads to confusion, which leads to security bugs. A great example is the raft of security bugs where different parts of IE guess the MIME type of incoming data and the guesses are inconsistent.
      -- The IE-Windows integration means IE supports a lot of magic features such as special protocols that Gecko doesn't support or just blocks. So IE has more attack surface.

      SP2 has improved things for IE a lot but they started from a bad position.
    • by finkployd (12902) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @07:16PM (#11223239) Homepage
      I agree that is a part of it, but certainly not the only place their advantage lies. Their advantage is primarily that they are under active developement and can react much quicker than Microsoft's IE. Basically MS won their browser war and forgot to maintain the product, let alone enhance it. Now they are scrambling to restart developement and like any good 800lbs gorilla, they are quite slow to do anything.

      The whole "the only reason project X seems more secure than project Y is because project Y is more popular" is quite an annoying (and false) meme. By that logic Apache should be much less secure than IIS. Sometimes project Y is just poorly designed. In the case of IE that is certainly what happened. It does not matter how many highly paid devs MS has that understand security if the final project decisions are made by clueless execs who insist on senseless integration with the OS for purposes of beating a DOJ trial and other decisions that are simply bad for security. Those highly paid devs can only do so much good.

      Finkployd
  • by Andy_R (114137) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:43PM (#11222942) Homepage Journal
    I know this sounds outlandish, but given that Microsoft don't make any money from IE, and it's vulnerabilities are giving them a lot of bad publicity, is there any sound business reason for them not to scrap it (and the staff that write it), save themselves a fortune by recommending Firefox? This would also solve their legal problems with the EU over bundling.
    • I agree with the parent of this post. It seems like poor business for MSFT to continue to run a project that does nothing but generate negative issues for the company. But this could explain why IE releases aren't being constantly delivered.

      On the issue of dropping IE, I think to any geek, having a browser built into your OS is a nice feature. And one that shows to the end user that Microsoft is capable and willing to cover all bases. I think it remains more of a branding/marketing thing. Users feel com
    • Ok, most PCs come with Windows preinstalled. So Microsoft makes some money on the OEM license. Now, Windows ships with IE as the default (and only) browser, so most users will just use IE without even realising what a 'browser' is.

      Because of this, lazy web developers, as well as Microsoft and their partners, will only develop their sites for IE - therefore lots of websites will only work with IE on Windows.

      So people who want to use "the internets" will have no choice but to use IE on Windows. Which mea
    • They need a dominant browser to exist only on their own platforms to encourage platform lock-in. Why else do you think they developed it in the first place, why else do you think the various gov't agencies try to stop the bundling? Platform lock-in is anticompetitive but very profitable for Microsoft, and make no mistake they will defend IE marketshare to the death if it comes to that.
    • by Rew190 (138940) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @07:51PM (#11223510)
      1. Because you need to have a browser installed with a new OS, otherwise it would be like getting a new car without a radio.

      2. With that many users, you can't simply back out of IE support; it would be terrible business.

      3. It would be giving open source a foothold and showing an incredible amount of users what open source can do... sort of like how iPods are converting folks over to Macs.

      4. They lose control over things like internet integration in their applications.

      5. They lose control over a lot of potential APIs/protocols since they wouldn't have their browers' users to use as a user base.

      6. It admits a crushing defeat to open source. Shareholders probably wouldn't be too cool with that.

      What you said makes total sense, but you have to look at it from a business perspective... Ditching IE would only confuse users, point them towards open source, and lock Microsoft out of potential future revenues related to internet browsers.

      It's also important to keep in mind that from a non-techy's perspective, IE is not bug-ridden filth and that any viruses or nastiness that are caught at this point are just functions of the internets and not Microsoft's fault. Microsoft knows this.

    • I hope your comment makes large on-line retailers nervous about optimizing their site for only IE. Microsoft could crush the whole on-line industry with one Windows Update. Funny, that.
    • by labratuk (204918) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @08:28PM (#11223818)
      You need to hear the whole reason for IE being produced in the first place.

      Back when the web was new and exciting, Netscape was making waves with its browser. They predicted that web based apps would be the future, and all apps would therefore be client system agnostic. The head dude of Netscape said something along the lines of 'In 10 years, windows will be reduced to nothing but a buggy set of device drivers'. This pissed Microsoft off.

      So they pumped huge amounts of money into IE to try and make it a better browser. Of course the idea of something being system agnostic really scares Microsoft. So to stop customers being able to just switch away from using IE and more importantly windows (the thing you give them money for) on the clients, they added a bunch of crazy features that would make webapp code that used said features not work with other browsers. Bingo. Clients have to stay running win/IE. One of these features was ActiveX which was touted as improving application interactivity.

      So you see, this is/was not really about the web at all, but webapps.
  • by artifex2004 (766107) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:44PM (#11222946) Journal
    Don't forget, every Windows system running Firefox and Thunderbird instead of IE and some version of Outlook is... still a Windows system. They won't worry so much about the negative impact of the bazillion vulnerabilities that remain, if more people start using other browser and email software. Meanwhile, they're still collecting the Windows tax on most consumer PCs.

    It might even be in MS's interests to sneak Mozilla a million bucks sometime to continue developing alternative browsers, because it would pay them back umpteen times in reduced support and bad press. I wouldn't expect them to do it openly, however.
    • Small problem with that for Microsoft. They know that the OS just isn't that important to a user: it's the *applications* that keep people on your platform. If all Windows users start getting used to (and liking) Firefox & Thunderbird, then it's that much smaller a jump for them to migrate to Linux instead of staying on Windows.

      That would be BAD for Microsoft. Therefore, they will be discouraging all movement off of their applcations to alternatives. The bad publicity doesn't matter if they can sti
  • by ThousandStars (556222) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:49PM (#11222985) Homepage
    Edward John Smith [bbc.co.uk] not worried about icebergs.
  • Brainstorm (Score:5, Funny)

    by t_allardyce (48447) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:56PM (#11223040) Journal
    I've been thinking about some innovative new features for Firefox and ive come up with a few that should really push the competition..

    1) 'Pusher' Technology - it would allow any website to 'push' un-signed software onto the users machine and run it totally automatically, this would be a boon for ease-of-use, it would also be able to force software to install without the users permission, bringing desktops into the DRM age peacefully.

    2) 'PickPocket' - an extension to Mozilla's engine that would allow websites to access credit cards and other personal info without the user needing to lift a finger, this would speed up internet transactions and quickly fill the gap in the as yet un-patented '0-Click Shopping' arena.

    3) 'MediaManager' technology will allow the user to enjoy a rich multimedia experiance by passing full control of the users speaker volume, microphone, web-can, monitor and force-feedback(r) joystick, we know users want to see your advert and they want to see it in full-screen video, lets not beat around the bush waiting for them to click on it..
    • Re:Brainstorm (Score:3, Insightful)

      Hey you forgot...

      4) OS-Bundle-Technology - the browser needs to be locked into the OS permanently thru a billion registry keys. This way it will prevent competing no-good browsers to install.

  • Innovations? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sabNetwork (416076) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @07:40PM (#11223437)
    At Microsoft, "innovations" are new ways to lock out competitors.

    Look for patented IE-exclusive features in their next version.

    --
  • by mr. methane (593577) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @07:58PM (#11223569) Journal
    ... after Walter Mossberg (WSJ's technology columnist) gave out a strong recommendation to use Firefox, describing IE as a fundamentally compromised product implemented in an insecure OS.

    Ouch.

    I still have to use IE for a couple of sites - mostly ones inside my own company. And that's fine; I trust my own IT people and my own HR department. But using IE to casually browse the web just seems like a very bad idea.
  • by Valiss (463641) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @08:10PM (#11223679) Homepage
    Yet ANOTHER reason Firefox is a great browser is the great plug-ins and tweaks the community produces!

    [ from boingboing.net ]

    Here's a great go-faster tip for Firefox, the free, rock-solid, secure browser from the Mozilla Foundation:

    1.Type "about:config" into the address bar and hit return. Scroll down
    and look for the following entries:

    network.http.pipelining network.http.proxy.pipelining
    network.http.pipeli ning.maxrequests

    Normally the browser will make one request to a web page at a time. When you enable pipelining it will make several at once, which really speeds up page loading.

    2. Alter the entries as follows:

    Set "network.http.pipelining" to "true"

    Set "network.http.proxy.pipelining" to "true"

    Set "network.http.pipelining.maxrequests" to some number like 30. This
    means it will make 30 requests at once.

    3. Lastly right-click anywhere and select New-> Integer. Name it
    "nglayout.initialpaint.delay" and set its value to "0". This value is the
    amount of time the browser waits before it acts on information it receives.

    If you're using a broadband connection you'll load pages MUCH faster now!

    Enjoy!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 30, 2004 @08:12PM (#11223691)
    What you say? Mod me down as a troll, but even if people jump ship en masse to Firefox, that is not a problem for Microsoft. There are several reasons for this - times today are very different from the good ol' days of their browser war with Netscape.

    During the browser war between Microsoft and Netscape, Microsoft's primary worry was not people using Netscape Navigator as much as the Windows platform losing importance. Remember Andressen's quote saying that when Netscape was done, Windows would be reduced to a set of poorly debugged device drivers? Its easy to say that was foolery in retrospect, but Microsoft was sincerely worried about that. As far as Microsoft knew at the time, Windows could have lost importance in the same way that minicomputers declined after the rise of the personal computer.

    Fast forward to the twenty first century. Microsoft is having a crapload of problems with spyware and this product called Firefox is getting rave reviews. But the worries of the mid nineties are gone. The reason that Microsoft stopped IE development is because they do not want to see web apps get more powerful; they hope that when Longhorn comes around, people will write distributed .NET apps.

    Firefox does nothing to stop this future. While Firefox is a nice app and IMHO better than IE, it is not pushing the frontiers of web application capabilities, the way that Netscape did in the nineties. As nice as it is to not worry about slimeware, Firefox is just enabling the same ol' web.

    As nice as Firefox is, it is not enabling people to switch away from Microsoft technologies other than IE itself. People are not switching to Linux because of Firefox. When Longhorn comes out and Microsoft starts hyping .NET web applications, from MSFT's perspective it is fine if people use Firefox 90% of the time and use IE for the 10% of .NET mission critical apps. As long as those apps exist, people are still tied into their platform.

    Perhaps at some level, Microsoft risks losing mindshare from Firefox. But even if this is the case, they risk to lose much more mindshare by acknowledging Firefox as an issue so their response is expected.
  • by JoeCommodore (567479) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Thursday December 30, 2004 @08:35PM (#11223867) Homepage
    We better not really fix/enhance IE in XP so people will have a good reason to plunk down the "big bux" for Long horn upgrades in two years.
  • by 3seas (184403) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @09:42PM (#11224316) Journal
    ... to make such announcements regardless of the real outcome.

    I.E. when they hear of a competitor working on something they suddenly have an announcement that they are doing something similiar but better.

    Even if they never come out with it the threat from MS competition can cause additional pressure..

    In honesty, it is best to ignore all anouncements comming from MS, unless it is regarding current product that you can actually touch.
  • by Junks Jerzey (54586) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @10:31PM (#11224612)
    Think about it...what does FireFox offer that's over and above IE in terms of usability:

    1. Security.
    2. Tabbed browsing.
    3. Popup blocking.
    4. Various little things, like a better Options dialog and nicer text searching.

    Now let's look at this from the point of view of a multi-billion dollar sofware development house that already has an existing and popular browser (i.e. Microsoft):

    1. The big security problem is allowing ActiveX controls. You can already fix this by raising your security level to High. Microsoft can make this the default in ten seconds of developer time.

    2. Tabbed browsing is nice, but how long would it take to add to IE? A week? A month? Microsoft could do this in a hearbeat, and likely already has internally.

    3. Popup blocking is something that Microsoft added as part of XP Service Pack 2.

    4. Again, as with #2, these would be doddles for Microsoft to add.

    Now what's more likely here is that Microsoft is thinking big and has something up its sleeve that the FireFox guys aren't even considering. The worry, for those people who insist upon viewing this as a battle, is that FireFox is going to look like an improved and polished version of IE, and the next IE is going to be leap beyond it.

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