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Firefox's Effect On Other Browsers 475

Posted by Soulskill
from the driving-the-market dept.
An anonymous reader points out an interview with Mozilla's "evangelist," Christopher Blizzard, regarding the future of Firefox and how it affects other browsers. It's an Austrian site, so forgive the comma abuse. From derStandard: "It's sort of interesting though, part of our strategy is to make sure, that we continue making change and the indirect effect of this is that Microsoft continues to have to do releases, because if we get so far ahead that we're able to drive the platform they are not able to keep up and keep their users. I mean, we have this joke which says 'Internet Explorer 7 is the best release we ever did,' because they would not have done it, if we would have not built Firefox. And the same is true for Apple, they are doing a lot to keep up with us. Safari 3.1 is a good example, as far as we see it, the only reason they did this release was that Firefox 3 would come out and have Javascript speed which would be twice as fast as theirs, cause that's how it was before. So by pushing other people to make releases we can go on our mission to make sure the web stays healthy."
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Firefox's Effect On Other Browsers

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  • by TomRK1089 (1270906) on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:03PM (#24283401)
    What astonishes me is more that this latest release has gotten even my totally non-tech-savvy friends to download it and acknowledge its superiority to Internet Explorer 7. The Firefox team has not only improved the browser for those of us who already used it, but managed to convert another large segment of the market. It's sort of like the Nintendo Wii effect -- they realized it made more sense not to enlarge their slice of the tech-savvy pie, but to expand the pie to include casual users as well. Or at least that's how I see it, feel free to correct me with your own interpretation.
    • by liquidpele (663430) on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:10PM (#24283467) Journal
      It's gotten a lot better for non-techie users due to more websites testing against them though. I remember using Firebird 0.7 and about 1 out of every 20 sites would not render very well. For non-techie users, having to then start IE for more than 2 sites is a reason to not even try anything but IE.
      • by ben2umbc (1090351) on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:49PM (#24283817)

        It's gotten a lot better for non-techie users due to more websites testing against them though. I remember using Firebird 0.7 and about 1 out of every 20 sites would not render very well. For non-techie users, having to then start IE for more than 2 sites is a reason to not even try anything but IE.

        That's absolutely true. About a year and a half ago I started using my mac exclusively, and with that I lost the IE Tab extension for Firefox. Initially I missed it every day, having to use Safari to try to render pages correctly. Now it is a complete non-issue.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        It's gotten a lot better for non-techie users due to more websites testing against them though. I remember using Firebird 0.7 and about 1 out of every 20 sites would not render very well. For non-techie users, having to then start IE for more than 2 sites is a reason to not even try anything but IE.

        Indeed; and it is the same with Opera, too - it's not just that it's gotten better (which it did), but mostly that most websites these days are not "IE only". Which is also thanks mostly to Firefox, I guess - ev

    • by Onyma (1018104) on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:17PM (#24283523)
      I can sum much of this up with one example.

      My mother is a typical late 60's web user... she has a handful of site she likes to visit and not much more. She has memorized the basic functions I taught her years ago and she's happy with that.

      Recently I upgraded her FF2 to FF3 and taught her how to use the new address bar and bookmarking / search functionality. She nailed it in 2-3 minutes and was looking up sites in her history with ease. I was back there a couple days ago and sure enough she has already bookmarked a dozen new sites and raves about how much easier she finds the internet now. (you'd think they had redesigned the entire internet... which in essence is what a browser upgrade can do for you)

      To me that right there outlines one of the reasons FF3 is going to produce another large spike in new users. Get what you want easily and with less hassle.
      • Piling on... (Score:3, Insightful)

        The SQLite manager add-on is incredible.
        I'm looking forward to canned index databases for interesting site(s).
        The whole idea of exposing data to the user is going to lead to some interesting long-term effects.
        If nothing else, one hopes that it will help usher the demise of that ugly data Bastille called the Windows Registry.
      • by ben2umbc (1090351) on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:52PM (#24283833)
        Can you please come over and teach my mom. And while you're at it can you work on getting rid of AOL? I feel like she's stuck in the 90s.
      • by jd (1658) <imipak@noSPam.yahoo.com> on Monday July 21, 2008 @11:57PM (#24284247) Homepage Journal
        There were web users in the late 60s?
    • by zappepcs (820751) on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:39PM (#24283735) Journal

      One of the great things that FF team did was to allow huge volumes of customization. It can be both a blessing and a curse, but allowing the add-ons and creating an environment where they could be created made FF much more than a web browser. For that, other browsers will constantly have to keep up. FF took bleeding edge and made it cool and functional. It takes a big stick to beat that. Being able to bolt on functions like ABP, foxmarks, FireFTP mean that much of my work is browser based now, and I'd not switch from FF without a great deal of effort by other broswers. I can switch back and forth from Linux to Windows and not really notice any difference in how I'm working.

      Better than that, FF makes is so that joe public can experience the same functionality, and with little effort, realize that Ubuntu, CentOS, Fedora et al can be just as useful, if not more so, than MS products and OS. Most of the computer user's experience is a web browser these days. If that part works right, most people don't give a damn what OS is working underneath it. I've converted quite a few people, FF first, then OS, like falling dominos.

      From my vantage point, FF has done far more than they are taking credit for. FAR MORE.

      • by Lincolnshire Poacher (1205798) on Tuesday July 22, 2008 @05:51AM (#24286371)

        > One of the great things that FF team did was to allow huge volumes of customization...but allowing the add-ons and creating an environment where they could be created made FF much more than a web browser.

        Please, give credit where it is due. The concept of UI extensions derives from Netscape's plans for a skinnable Navigator 5, which led to the development of XUL - developed, you will note, by Netscape, not the Mozilla Foundation.

        In-window plug-ins are today's implementation of NPAPI, again developed by Netscape.

        Nothing is created from a vacuum ( well, except perhaps the entire Universe ).

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)
          The XUL concept predates NS 5 - it was intended to make it into NS 4 but slipped. I have some magazine articles which describe what later became XUL and XPCOM as a framework for developing cross-platform applications with Internet integration from the mid '90s. It was this that caused Microsoft to try so hard to kill Netscape, since it would have meant that people stopped developing for Win32, and started developing for the Netscape platform (easier, since you are writing your UIs in something like HTML,
  • So.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by liquidpele (663430) on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:04PM (#24283425) Journal
    What he's saying is that competition feeds innovation. While not exactly a new idea, I'm glad that Firefox has been able to create competition in the once stagnant browser market though.
    • by msauve (701917) on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:32PM (#24283669)
      is that Firefox has been driven (to a large extent) by Opera [opera.com].

      Credit where credit is due, please.
      • by roca (43122) on Monday July 21, 2008 @11:02PM (#24283921) Homepage

        Opera, although it is excellent, has never had enough market share to look like a threat. Competition from Safari, and of course IE, is the major competitive driver for us.

        • by msauve (701917) on Tuesday July 22, 2008 @07:29AM (#24287133)
          or even competition. I don't view them that way (I don't pay for any of them) - they're just different choices.

          And to all those ignorant mods who called me a troll: Opera has been around in fairly significant numbers since about 2000. Even if it had minimal market share, that is the timeframe in which it became noticed by the web cognoscenti. Firefox came out around the end of 2004 (pre-Mozilla came out around the end of 2002).

          At the time Mozilla/Firefox was being formed, IE was pretty static, with no significant feature development occurring (IE6 in 2001, IE7 not until 2006). IE certainly wasn't driving feature development in other browsers. Safari didn't even exist in public until 2003.

          In addition to the obvious tabbed browsing (no, they didn't invent tabs, but they did popularize them in browsers), Opera has also set the bar for standards support and rendering speed.

          Specifically with reference to the article and Mozilla/Firefox, the three most significant UI features of Mozilla/Firefox [wikipedia.org], tabbed browsing, easy inline find, and custom shortcuts, all appeared in Opera previously.

          Yes, Opera has been a significant factor in driving feature development in other browsers, and it deserves that recognition and respect, even if you choose to use something else.
  • Safari 3.1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:06PM (#24283441)

    Or maybe they did it because they were pushing javascript apps for the iPhone, and working on the javascript-based SproutCore frameworks and the associated MobileMe apps.

    Not everything revolves around Firefox.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by catmistake (814204)

      Thankyou for posting. They have a point about IE7, but a very weak line to Safari3. WebKit deserves its due... Apple was innovating with WebKit long before Firefox, or even Safari, existed.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jrumney (197329)

        Apple was innovating with WebKit long before Firefox, or even Safari, existed.

        Really? Wasn't it the KDE developers that were doing the innovating before Safari came into being?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        Revisionist history? The lead developer and founder of the WebKit project co-founded FireFox (Phoenix, back then) before going to Apple and creating the KHTML fork that became WebKit.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by astrosmash (3561)

      His take on Safari might have had an ounce of credibility if Firefox wasn't such a dog on OS X. (What's worse, they shipped Firefox 3 with some ridiculous performance regressions [mozilla.org]). But as it stands, his comment is complete nonsense. I've sensed a little hostility towards WebKit in a few of the Mozilla blogs lately. Perhaps there's still some bitterness over the whole ACID3 fiasco?

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:09PM (#24283457) Journal
    Apple did not release Safari because of Firefox. After all, Firefox was on Apple. They released it because they wanted to be in control of their future. As it was, MS had announced that they were going to pull MSIE from them. What amazes me, is that Apple has not pushed OO to be on there. They would be smart to add a few coders to the project just to ensure that it can compete against Office on their platform.
    • by larry bagina (561269) on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:35PM (#24283691) Journal

      What amazes me, is that Apple has not pushed OO to be on there. They would be smart to add a few coders to the project just to ensure that it can compete against Office on their platform.

      Apple has Pages, Keynote, and Numbers (I pay for them rather than use OO.). Oh, and Microsoft Office. Apple's interest in open source is more of the system/library part, not the front end user experience.

    • by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:42PM (#24283767) Homepage

      Maybe because Apple would never release a product with a user interface even remotely close to anything office classic?

      And I'm glad they don't. What I can't understand is why Staroffice/OpenOffice tried so hard to copy something so bad.

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:12PM (#24283487)

    I always maintained that Win2K was such a good OS specifically because of the competition Microsoft was getting from open source, they didn't want to be caught napping and wake up to find Linux as a good desktop solution. This theory kind of fell apart with Vista, I have no idea what that steaming pile is in response to.

    • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:21PM (#24283559) Homepage Journal

      You are indeed correct - but there was more to it than that. Keep in mind that at the time they put Win2K into the planning stages, OS/2 had the server market (due to all the vertical market businesses that IBM catered to). MS needed something that competed, and was decent.

      Of course, the other added factor was continually breaking and changing networking implementations and such to ensure that since "your" workstations (mostly) ran Windows, the server had to as well.

      Before that, you could manage a Windows domain from OS/2 simply by drag-n-drop. Since MS couldnt beat that (and still doesnt have anything remotely close), they had to make another release (both for competitive reasons and to break compatibility with LanMan).

      The key thing (competition) is what died in those areas... fortunately in the browser market, MS can no longer leverage their monopoly to create a similar situation, leaving everyone having to either play catch-up to stay in the game or fighting to stay ahead. We all benefit...

  • by MobyTurbo (537363) on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:14PM (#24283503) Homepage
    Safari is not trailing Firefox as it is being developed in all ways, especially JavaScript performance. I actually prefer to use Firefox 3 on the Mac (much better array of plug-ins, and better security), but the latest WebKit nightlies, on http://www.webkit.org/ [webkit.org] since the implementation of Squirelfish (see blog there) are quite a bit faster in JavaScript performance than Firefox. If anything, Firefox is going to have some catching up to do in that department.
  • Opera (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rui del-Negro (531098) on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:20PM (#24283549) Homepage

    And Opera is feeling so pressured by Firefox that it is systematically forced to copy Firefox's features months and even years before Firefox releases them... ^_^

    • Re:Opera (Score:5, Funny)

      by smussman (1160103) on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:24PM (#24283577)
      And they won't even tell us how they do the time travel thing ... that's why open source is so much better.
    • Re:Opera (Score:4, Insightful)

      by enoz (1181117) on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:35PM (#24283685)

      Except Opera lagged behind with the most significant feature: being free.

      According to the wiki timeline it wasn't until around 2000 when a 'free' version became available (supported by inbuilt ads), and then as recent as 2005 when finally the ads were removed.

      • Re:Opera (Score:4, Interesting)

        by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Monday July 21, 2008 @11:32PM (#24284103) Homepage Journal

        Before the ad-supported Opera, however, people just used the evaluation version.

        Money was never what stopped Opera's adoption.

        What did stop its adoption is an interesting question, though. It has been a great browser for as long as I can remember - which I think goes back to version 3.something. I used it to test my websites, because Opera was much more picky and standards-compliant than the others. I also used it for my own browsing, because Opera was faster and offered a slew of useful features that other browsers lacked (tons of keyboard shortcuts and tabs being the main ones). Yet, I have never seen Opera at far above 1% in global browser market share stats.

        Part of it is undoubtedly inertia. A lot of people will just use what comes with their system, which is probably some version of Internet Explorer or Safari, and perhaps Firefox (and, back in the day, Netscape). Part of it may also be explained by the multitude of websites that have been broken in ways that made them not work with Opera. If you use a lot of such websites, having to switch browsers constantly quickly gets old.

        Myself, I stopped using Opera because of stability issues on Linux. Those might have been resolved now, but, nowadays, I run only open-source software on my main system. I am not about to make an exception for Opera; I am satisfied with Konqueror.

  • by lisany (700361) <slashdot&thedoh,com> on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:24PM (#24283581)
    What will Firefox copy next? (what? troll?)
  • It Cuts Both Ways (Score:5, Interesting)

    by magixman (883752) on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:28PM (#24283629)
    While Firefox may have inspired the release of IE 7 and pushed Apple to jump into the fray with a Windows release of Safari, it is also true that FF 2 was not all that it should have been and just maybe IE 7 and Safari pushed Mozilla hard enough to really ace FF 3 which it seems that they have done.

    As a software developer who once loathed the idea of having to code for multiple browsers, I have now accepted that there will be differences and have learned to deal with it and promise to stop whining.

    I applaud the browser race and hope that they continue to leapfrog each other for a long time to come.
  • by Rinisari (521266) on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:37PM (#24283709) Homepage Journal

    I never knew, that German, was quite so, comma-happy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      All I know is that I must be some kind of fucking genius, because I've never taken a German class in my life, and I understood it just fine.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      It is, and in German they like really long sentences, too. Especially in older German (think of 60 years back and older) sentences can easily be half a page long. (But then again, long and meandering sentences were rather popular in Victorian English, too.)
  • by oob (131174) on Tuesday July 22, 2008 @12:09AM (#24284345)
    So by pushing other people to make releases we can go on our mission to make sure the web stays healthy.

    This reminds me of a comment from Brian Behlendorf concerning the design of the Apache License to allow for modifications of the code for commercial release without accompanying source code, in contrast to the GPL. Behlendorf said that this was deliberate because the Apache Foundation believed that supporting the web protocols was more important than the keeping contributions to the Apache code open source.

    Interesting to see this sentiment echoed from the client side a decade later.

  • by harmonica (29841) on Tuesday July 22, 2008 @12:26AM (#24284495)

    I have a problem with pop-under windows. They "reappeared" recently, and I'm using FF exclusively. Unfortunately I can't tell if my switch from FF2 to FF3 was the reason, but it was around the time. Is this a known bug? I know I can try to figure out the domains of the sites appearing in those unwanted windows, but I'd be more interested in a general solution. BTW, I have "block pop up windows" activated in the settings, with a few exceptions.

  • by sudog (101964) on Tuesday July 22, 2008 @01:33AM (#24284983) Homepage

    Tabbed browsing, clean mouse gestures, two-handed browsing, single-click image disabling, single-click user CSS mode.. heck, most of the user-friendly advances have been standard features on Opera for many, many years. And half of the really good stuff *still* isn't stock and standard on any other browser.

    But, Opera did open its doors to the free download hype as a result of Firefox. So I owe you that much. :)

    But.. catch up already would you?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MtViewGuy (197597)

      That was great, but Opera Software's decision to charge for a full-featured version without intruding ads up until 2005 severely cut its marketshare compared to IE (which shipped as part of Windows since Windows 95 OEM Service Release 2) and Firefox (which was always free to use). If Opera Software had decided to make its browser truly "free" in 2003 its marketshare would be vastly larger, that's to be sure.

  • Specious viewpoint (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Tuesday July 22, 2008 @07:52AM (#24287339)
    Safari 3.1 is a good example, as far as we see it, the only reason they did this release was that Firefox 3 would come out and have Javascript speed which would be twice as fast as theirs, cause that's how it was before.

    .

    The reason why Safari came out with the faster JavaScript is that the faster JavaScript was needed for the MobileMe service's web interface.

    It is nothing more than trivially humorous that a FireFox fanboy describes the world as being Firefox-centric.

    Having said that, competition, whether imagined (as with Mozilla's "evangelist," Christopher Blizzard) or real, is always for the better.

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