If you're not yet among the percentage of the population people using Mozilla's Firefox browser, which by one count stands at 47.5 percent, perhaps the anniversary of its launch will give you cause. Yesterday was Firefox's fifth birthday, and its market share with co-leader Internet Explorer by many counts continues to grow while Microsoft's continues to shrink.
First released on Nov. 9, 2004, Firefox is now used by more than 330 million people worldwide, according to Mozilla.org, which itself reports Firefox market share at 24.7 percent, according to October 2009 numbers from netapplications .com, which researches market share. In fact, the organization in an Oct. 5 report cited that Firefox had increased its market share by four percent in a single month (September, 2009) based on a trend the firm began following with the June release of Firefox 3.5.
Internet Explorer is based on the aging, and largely obsolete, Triednt parsing engine. Unfortunately, rather than re-building the engine from scratch, or starting anew with another engine, Microsoft leaves much of the code in the current Triedent, the same as it was half a decade ago.
Another problem is that MS barely lets third-party developers create extensions for IE. While they do exist, they're very unpopular, simply because IE is dying.
Why so? Because Microsoft got lazy. Between the release of (the infamous) IE6, in 2001, and the release of IE7, in 2006, other browsers, like Firefox, Safari, and Opera, gained significant ground in the browser market. Let's take a look at Firefox's release history, between FF1.0, until IE7 came out, October 18, 2006.
October 26, 2004: Firefox 1.0 final release makes its first appearance.
November 29, 2005: The 1.5 update is released.
October 16, 2006: Firefox 2.0 is in final public beta, to be released about a week later.
That's three major builds in less than half the time it took for IE to make a single update. As of late, open-source browsers, specifically, Chrome and Firefox, are on something of a 6-week release schedule. Firefox is already up to version 15 as of this writing, and Chrome (est. 2008), is up to 19, and 21 on the Canary channel. And these browsers all support the latest technologies: HTML5, CSS3, web fonts, you name it. Until IE9 came along, web developers struggled to get any modern design to work properly in Explorer. Heck, it still looks a bit messed up.
As for Firefox, people have gotten drunk off all the extensions: a few people I know can't live without forty extensions giving them various status messages from all their social networks and email accounts. As a result, Firefox has generally gotten much, much slower than, for example Chrome. While Chrome does have extensions, the Chrome Web Store, an integrated software distribution client, puts more emphais on web apps, which don't have to load as the browser launches, but rather are stored locally, or loaded on request.
Does Firefox stand a chance in the future of web browsing? Undoubtebly. Will it beat Internet Explorer, in terms of theoretical attractiveness? It already did, on October 26, 2004. Will it ever be #1? Unlikely. The fact that IE is installed by default on every Windows machine is a major reason why its current user base is so large. Google Chrome also has an advantage in that Google can display Chrome "Chrome Fast" ads all over the net, thanks to Google's AdSense ad client, used by thousands of sites Internet-wide.
I have swaped to Chrome about a year ago, since my old laptop just kept crashing on Firefox.
So far my opinion is that Google Chrome is the most user friendly browser. Really really to use and configure.
And the best part - you can keep it as simple as you like and you can enjoy browsing better than ever