As a web browser, Mozilla Firefox will always have a place in history as one of the first products to seriously challenge the dominance of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
While Microsoft is well-known as an extremely corporate entity, the Mozilla attitude was a fresh way of thinking for the IT industry – Mozilla has promoted a culture of ‘open source’ software design. While there are certain elements of the product that attract a fee (such as commercially-produced extensions), the browser is very much free of charge. Like any major new software package for viewing websites, initially there were some very challenging times as the major page creators were slow to make their pages fully compliant with Firefox. However, the modern Internet is very much ‘Firefox Friendly’ (there are naturally a few minor exceptions).
Firefox created a culture for ‘Tabbed Browsing’, and it was only a matter of time before the other browsers followed this trend – this was due in no small part to a huge global team of developers. Over the last few years, the Firefox browser has expanded into mobile devices, and Android smartphone users are now able to benefit from the same design features and elements.
When users download, install and open Mozilla Firefox for the first time, they will notice that the entire interface is minimal and well-constructed. There are a wide variety of menu options and customisable features, but the buttons to access them do not stand out and distract the viewer. If Firefox is installed across a number of different devices (including handheld products), the main bookmarks and passwords are all synchronised, making it seamless to switch between them.
A PDF viewer is already built-in to Firefox when it is installed, and updating it with the latest Adobe software releases is reasonably straightforward. The ‘developer friendly’ nature of the software has created a sub-culture of extensions, and consumers have a huge variety of add-ons and plug-ins that can enhance the overall web browsing experience.
Keeping up with the latest version of Firefox is essential for anyone who desires to access the very latest features and improvements, and the software can be configured to update automatically – making it virtually impossible to miss out on the latest version. As the software updates, the process also checks the list of installed extensions for compatibility issues, and this reduces the risk of problems further down the line.
When making comparisons with other web browsers, there is a very good reason for downloading Mozilla Firefox to a system that is running Windows XP. With this operating system, official support for Internet Explorer has been discontinued after Internet Explorer 7.0 – and viewing websites built in HTML5 is only possible in Internet Explorer 8 or later. For this group of users, the only possible solution is to download a browser that is compatible with HTML5 in all versions, and Mozilla Firefox is ideal for this situation.
The latest version of the Web Browser Grand Prix competition named Firefox as the top-performing browser, and this was due to its reliability and memory processing efficiency. Surprisingly, the latest version of Internet Explorer (version 10) scored very poorly overall, and this was due to far slower page loading times. Looking at more obvious features, Firefox is able to synchronise bookmarks and data across devices in a way that is far more user-friendly than Internet Explorer, and installing extensions is generally a more pleasant experience. When making a comparison with Google Chrome, the menus are laid out in a slightly more accessible format, and the main button is in the top-left corner. This placement mimics the ‘top-left’ focus that is seen in most Windows software packages.
Although Mozilla Firefox was originally looked upon as an alternative, minority product, it has now grown into a serious contender that outperforms the Microsoft browser on a regular basis. Many of those who originally scoffed at the prospect of ‘open source’ software have now been fully converted to the idea that there is a viable alternative to Internet Explorer. At the very least, Mozilla has promoted a culture where it is perfectly normal to be a regular user of multiple web browsers.
It can also be argued that the success of Mozilla would have encouraged Google to develop their Chrome browser, as the former’s efforts proved that it is possible to tackle the Seattle-based computing giant – and win! Mozilla is currently in the process of developing and launching an entirely new mobile operating system, and this will lead to a line of smartphone and other handheld devices with a number of open source applications.Funnily enough, in a number of office environments, it is well known that certain versions of Microsoft’s Sharepoint system are more stable when using Mozilla Firefox!
About Mozilla Foundation
As an organisation, it has already been mentioned that the ethos of Mozilla is that everything should be 'free' and 'open source.' In many ways, Mozilla has developed into a 'counter culture' that has been created in the face of global corporate giants, and Microsoft has always been the main target. The origins of Mozilla date back to 1998, when a special project was created by the Netscape Communications Corporation, who were responsible for the Netscape web browser. Mozilla was eventually recognised as a legal entity in July 2003, and this was the catalyst that turned them into a global phenomenon. When opening a Firefox browser window, an 'Easter Egg' has been hidden that can be accessed by typing 'about:mozilla' into the address bar - the user is presented with a random quote that gives the impression that the whole Mozilla organisation has developed in a biblical manner. This attempt at humour is a typical characteristic of the whole Mozilla culture, and many fans are genuinely thankful that their efforts have led to a whole new demand for free, high-quality software. In an effort to provide an alternative to commercial email software (such as Microsoft's Outlook Express), Mozilla Thunderbird was created to provide a free solution for users in need of a reliable email client.
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