At the risk of offending almost 27% of the people who visited my website this month, I think Mozilla Firefox has lost its way. The last couple of times it has updated itself on my Windows XP SP2 machine, it’s crashed (taking with it all of the tabs that I have open – possibly representing a couple of days worth of work in progress or things to look at further when I get a few minutes).
Add to that the fact that too many developers are still producing badly-written websites that are not standards-compliant (not the fault of the Mozilla developers, but still hindering me as a Firefox user) and we have a very unhappy user who keeps on having to go back to using Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE). It’s not just people like me who write bad sites either – according to SiteMorse, the worst site belongs to Tesco (the biggest retailer in the UK, which now accounts for more than Â£1 in every Â£8 spent on the high street). If I have to use two browsers I might as well stick with the one that works with every site I go to, and unfortunately, that’s the one produced by everyone’s favourite monopolistic software company.
It doesn’t get better when you look at vulnerabilities either. James O’Neill (who, admittedly, works for Microsoft), highlighted a report by Bit9 that lists the top applications with critical vulnerabilities. Surprisingly for me (and for many others, I presume) IE is nowhere to be seen and Firefox (v1.0.7) tops the list (although v188.8.131.52 is the latest release as I write this).
Open source had its chance to take back the web. If the Firefox reliability doesn’t get better, then we’ll just see Internet Explorer 7 take it back (IE 7 seems very good, although despite Microsoft pledging a commitment to web standards it still seems to be lacking in the standards compliance department – the version in Windows Vista beta 2 fails the ACID 2 test, but so does Firefox v184.108.40.206 on Windows XP SP2).
Even if Windows Vista encounters further delays, IE 7+ (and IE 7 for Windows XP users) will hit the streets soon (beta 3 of Internet Explorer 7 was released yesterday).
Mozilla needs to raise its game and further increase its share of the market before Microsoft wins the latest battle in the browser wars (ownership of the ie7.com domain name is not going to be enough).