According to Mozilla, the company's web browser Firefox 3 was downloaded more than 8 million times in its first day of release on June 18th.
Firefox, the open-source alternative to Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Apple's Safari, has taken the Internet browser market by storm since its initial release in 2004. With the momentum from its new 3.0 release, Firefox is encroaching on close to a 20% market share in the Internet browser market. In fact, Market Share by Net Applications shows that Firefox 3 by itself took a 6% market share, a monumental achievement, before falling back to hover steadily at around 4%.
New Browser Smell
The new version of Firefox has many new features including:
- the ability to zoom in and out of an entire web page instead of just text. All elements of the page – including the text, pictures, interactive feature – are affected by the new zoom settings.
- an "awesome bar," the name of the new and improved location bar which shows suggested websites according to "frecency" – a combination of the frequency of the page visited and how recently the page was visited.
- smarter bookmarks, offline web applications, user interface upgrades, an enhanced download manager, and the quicker loading of web pages.
Additionally, previously reported problems of memory leaks in Firefox 2 were patched up so that Firefox would no longer balloon in memory usage and crash repeatedly.
Security Features Unreliable
Despite efforts to improve security features, Firefox 3 may have backtracked in helping users surf smoothly and securely.
In a move to combat phishing and malware websites, Firefox 3 added alerts that informed the user whether or not a website was genuine. However, various technology beats, including informationweek.com, have reported that Firefox could not accurately report the authenticity of websites the majority of the time.
Inexperienced users might be in real danger in believing that Firefox could be correct 100% of the time and could lure them into a false sense of security.
DVLabs' Zero Day Initiative reported that they had discovered a critical vulnerability only five hours after the new browser's release. The vulnerability was relayed to Mozilla, which is currently working on a patch.
Food For Thought
Mozilla is hoping that the 8 million downloads that it logged in a 24 hour period will set a world record, but Guinness World Reports may take up to a week to substantiate this claim.
Firefox-hungry downloaders gobbled up the browser at a rate of 15,000 per minute at its peak during the launch day.
While they furiously installed the browser, Microsoft's Internet Explorer team was busy, too, but in another endeavor: sending the Firefox team a cake. It portrays the trademark Internet Explorer "e" logo and has "Congratulations on Shipping! Love, The IE Team" written on it.
Unfortunately for IE, matching Firefox 3's hype in their IE 8 release late in the year may not be a piece of cake.