Following hot on the heels of the Firefox 1.0 release, the Mozilla Foundation is developing an integration path for desktop search tools that will be an optional enhancement to the Firefox web browser. Competing directly with Google Desktop Search, the browser-enabled search feature lets users remain in a commonly-used software application while searching for data files on their workstation or local area network. BTW, Google’s free search application is available solely for noncommercial use, don’t try using it on your office computer.
Over seven million copies of Firefox were downloaded during the beta period, and the numbers for the final 1.0 release are still to be released; however, it’s clear that Firefox is challenging Microsoft Internet Explorer’s (IE) dominance on the PC desktop. Showing a continuing decline in popularity over the last year, IE is yielding market share to alternative browsers with greater capabilities and security, according to analysis and reports by WebSideStory.
Broad acceptance of alternative browsers will most likely only occur following integration: deals with original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and the preinstallation of the browser(s) by the manufacturer. The vast majority of users do not know how to install software, nor do they understand the value of using an alternative browser product. The Holy Grail for browser manufacturers, such as The Mozilla Foundation is OEM integration.
The Mozilla Foundation, based in Mountain View, California, is a nonprofit organization founded to support the Mozilla open-source software project. Firefox is a free download and is available for 16 languages and 3 operating systems.
A recent three-percent drop in market share for IE bodes well for browsers like Firefox and my favorite, Opera. I will continue to evaluate Firefox, and I’ve already started recommending it to students and clients as a free alternative to the hassles and risks of using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
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