I never realized how much publicity a handful of software developers could create with the release of one application. But they sure have made waves. SpreadFirefox.com, the Mozilla Foundation’s official promotion site for its Firefox web browser, reported today that over 80 million downloads have been made of the browser.

Yeah. I know what you’re thinking. “This is an open source project, there’s just no way to get 80 million downloads in under a year! That’s a good point you’ve raised. There is indeed no way to verify the download counter’s accuracy. For the sake of writing this blog entry, we’re going to assume the Mozilla foundation has some integrity, and the counter has not been doctored.

Version 1.0 of Firefox was released some ten months ago, in November 2004. Since then, it has experienced phenomenal (unprecedented) growth, and media attention. Acclaimed by magazines such as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and others, the cross-platform browser was on track to change computing history.

In the past, users on SpreadFirefox have taken out a full page New York Times advertisement to promote the Internet Explorer alternative. Other marketing ideas are also flooding the community marketing section of the site.

Everything from special SEO scripts to advertising on G4TechTV have been proposed. There’s no word on whether these proposals have been adopted, and the Firefox affiliate program continues to flourish. Netzwelt.de, for example, has referred nearly half a million users to download the product!

Hatred for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has also fueled the growth of Firefox. Nasty security holes in IE have been the main culprit. Sites like StopIE are also joining the fight. They claim IE is slow, not feature rich, and does not have adequate web standards support.

No Champaign bottles have been uncorked yet. Firefox developers said in a press release that they are “waiting until their 21st birthdays to drink alcohol. For now, Bawls is going to have to suffice as a celebratory liquid for Firefox contributors.

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This number is almost completly meaningless. I am growing tired of spreadfirefox putting out a press release every 5,000,000 downloads. They should be focusing on what makes firefox a better browser. I don't pick my browser based on some popularity contest, and if I did I would use IE.

For one thing, this number surely counts a large number of current users who are updating. Firefox is now at 1.06 and spreadfirefox has been counting since 1.0. That is 6 downloads for everyone who has stayed up to date. That doesn't even count those that have installed the same version of firefox more than once. Many people who own more than one computer have also downloaded more than once.

This number could also be too low. Many people install firefox on every computer they work on as an anti-spyware measure, often from the same burned CD from the same single download. Many network administrators probobly install firefox over their entire networks, from just one download.

I am a firefox user myself. I think its the best browser around. The fact that its opensource doesn't hurt either. Having tried out the Vista beta though, I'm not sure how much longer firefox will remain so superior to the competition.

Well said Benna. I've downloaded FF about a dozen times so far for 3 computers.
On only one of those is it the main browser, on the others it's used for limited compatibility testing only (which shows quite clearly that FF web standards compliance is rather poor, especially when it comes to CSS and JavaScript).

IE is and will likely remain my main browser of choice, but as a professional I need to know what else is out there...

Actually, IE is the browser with poor web compliance. Because IE doesn't follow the standards alot of web developers don't either, and therefore firefox doesn't work on some sites.

It is also pertinent to point out that, according to some reports, Firefox has recently lost ground to Internet Explorer and Opera for the first time in a long while.


benna, IE supports more of the W3 standards than does FireFox (or Mozilla, or Opera, etc. etc.).
If they also support things that are not in the standard, well they all do that but at least the things IE supports were once proposals to the standards comitee (proposals that didn't make it).
You see, Microsoft is part of the W3 and sometimes incorporates things they've proposed to the comitee into their products before they're approved into the standard. Some of those proposals don't make it and Microsoft keeps them in to maintain backwards compatibility with older versions. That's all of the story, no matter what "Microsoft is evil and trying to destroy the standards" conspiracy theory the slashdotkiddos (tm, (r), (c), patent pending) come up with.

I've tested this myself. Took a chunk of code and had it validated for XHTML 1.0 Strict AND CSS2 compliance by the official W3 validator.
IE ran it without a hitch, FF didn't even know where to begin running it.
Not an isolated incident either...

I agree, with jwenting.

IE will almost always remain my browser of choice unless I am on a non ms system. Even on my mac I prefer the crapyness of Safari to that of the quirks of Firefox.

I've used firefox for years now and have never had any serious issues. Once in a long while a site won't display properly and I will open it in IE but that is very rare.

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