Introducing Mozilla 1.0

Introduction to Mozilla 1.0, the new open-source web browser.

What is Mozilla?

Mozilla is a new open-source web browser, from the people at Mozilla.org. Mozilla is the long awaited successor to Netscape Communicator 4.7, the browser that tried to take on the mighty Microsoft during the great 'browser wars', and failed. Internet Explorer (IE) now claims over 90% of the market, and, like many Microsoft products, IE has no real competition. Is Mozilla going to be able to brake IE's strangle-hold? Only time will tell.

Whatever ground that Netscape Communicator 4.7 held against Internet Explorer in the past has now been well and truly lost over the past few years. You see, Mozilla is very, very late. In fact, it is nearly four years late! Mozilla faces an uphill struggle to regain lost ground, let alone to make inroads into Internet Explorer's brand awareness territory. And what sort of financial engine is there to convince IE's brand-loyal browser users to make the switch to Mozilla? A marketing budget of exactly zero. You read it right, nothing.

Dependence on the Tech Community?

The best that Mozilla can hope for is a passive push by the Net tech community to promote the use of the Mozilla browser as a viable alternative to IE. A favourable coverage from the technology media would also be very helpful in promoting Mozilla's cause. This 'word of mouth' approach to marketing is highly dependant upon a number of factors:

  1. Are people looking for an alternative? If they are quite happy with IE, are they likely to make the switch to Mozilla?
  2. The quality of the product. For viral marketing to work, the product has to have that 'cool' factor that makes people want to tell their friends and colleagues about it.

So what exactly does Mozilla 1.0 have to offer?

Mozilla's Features

There is no denying that Mozilla 1.0 is a fine browser. It is less resource-hungry than IE 6, possesses the ability to 'kill' the dreaded pop-up add windows, and is able to contain several web site connections in one window due to having a tab-select feature for each site. Due to the project not being rushed, it is relatively bug free, providing a stable web browsing environment for Windows, Mac and Linux. Mozilla 1.0 is also fully compatible with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), so as I found out with this site, if your site runs in Netscape 6+ or Internet Explorer 5+, then chances are it should run in Mozilla 1.0 without the need for any modification. This is welcome news for site designers.

In my opinion Mozilla has a much more attractive user interface than IE, which has never diversified from it's bland Windows look. Anyone who has used Netscape 6+ will be right at home with Mozilla, not only do both browsers run on the same 'Gecko' engine, but their respective interfaces both allow the user to customize their look via downloadable graphic 'skins'. Mozilla also possesses better privacy settings than IE, such as encryption for stored password and form entries.

The Mozilla Organization

The core programmers at Mozilla are still employed by Netscape, which is now wholly owned by AOL-Time-Warner. The majority of the coding, however, is carried out by an army of online programmers, volunteering there time and expertise to the Mozilla project. In effect, Mozilla.org only acts as a guiding light for this large community, and as Mozilla.org are unable to enforce any deadlines on these programmers, the release of Mozilla 1.0 has been a long time coming.

Mozilla is an open-source project; anyone can download it's blueprint, fix bugs, or suggest improvements for the next version. In one of the boldest steps ever taken in computing history, Netscape gave away it's browser to the online community back in 1998. Netscape is now happy to allow the developments at Mozilla.org to follow their own course, and to wait for the results to be included in their own, Netscape-branded Internet browser (Netscape 6+). This level of trust in the online tech community is unparalleled. Let us all hope, for Netscape's and Mozilla's future, that this trust is repaid in full for many years to come. I for one cannot wait for the next version!

You can download Mozilla 1.0 now from: Mozilla.org

John Collins

I have been writing about web technology and software development since 2001. I am the developer of the Alpha Framework for PHP, and the five.today personal productivity app. I love open source, technology, and economics.

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