Is Mozilla Making the Same Mistakes as Microsoft?: Page 2

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The sinister side of add-ons is that it presents an additional attack surface for hackers trying to get into your system. There’s no requirement in Firefox that add-ons have to be downloaded and installed over a secure connection (HTTPS) and this leads to potential hijacking scenarios. Also, when you install an add-on, you taking a gamble that the code is clean. Even if you trust the developer, unless the code is digitally signed and downloaded over a secure connection, there’s no guarantee that it’s not been tampered with.

But it didn’t end with add-ons and extensions. We’ve now got spell checkers, phishing filters, live bookmarks, RSS readers, integrated search and more. Firefox is not a browser any more but an integrated suite of web applications.

So what are the mistakes that both Mozilla and Microsoft made with their browsers? It’s the mistake of using an ever increasing number of features to encourage people to adopt or keep on using that browser. A features war has, almost always, only resulted in three things – overly bloated code, poor performance and security vulnerabilities. Mozilla as an open source movement was in the perfect position to put aside a drive for big user numbers and concentrate on the basics. That’s a real shame and a missed opportunity.

Not only is Mozilla adding more features to Firefox (a whole raft of new features are slated for version 3) but development has stalled on fixing (or at least alleviating) current issues of poor performance and massive memory footprint. Ask the Mozilla team for a comment on the huge amount of RAM that Firefox can consume, and the reply you get is that it’s not a bug but a feature. When you need a system with 1GB of RAM just to run a browser well, you know that the project has steered far away from the original goal of developing an “open-source web browser, designed for standards compliance, performance and portability.”

Or maybe performance just doesn’t mean what it used to.

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