The Mozilla Foundation’s Firefox 1.5 blew away the competition to take
the top award in the Enterprise Linux category in the Datamation Product
of the Year 2006 awards.
The open-source browser easily beat out the second-place finisher, Red
Hat Inc.’s Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.0, by garnering more than twice the
votes. The Zimbra Collaboration Suite from Zimbra Inc. came in a distant
third, with Asterisk 1.2 coming in fourth.
Firefox had a lot of industry buzz surrounding it early in 2005,
according to Joe Wilcox, a senior analyst for JupiterResearch. That buzz
was starting to fade, though, until Version 1.5 hit the market in the
later part of the year.
”The release came just in time as some of the energy was dying around
Firefox,” says Wilcox. ”Firefox has built up a tremendous community.
There’s a lot of participation that goes on around the browser. It’s an
open-source product so there’s contributions coming in from almost
And that community is part of what users love about Firefox, according to
Mike Schroepfer, vice president of engineering at Mozilla Corp., based in
Mountain View, Calif.
”It’s one of the most amazing things about Firefox,” says Schroepfer,
who adds that they have 40 million to 50 million active Firefox users,
with 50 percent to 60 percent of them using Version 1.5. ”There’s all
different sorts of people participating in the community. There are
people who help to test. Anyone can look at product plans and all the
code and review it and participate. If there’s a feature they’d like to
see implemented, they can show us a way to do it. By incorporating that
into the product, they’re really part of it.”
Jonathan Barksdale, a virtual IT specialist with the Jenaly Technology
Group, Inc., a Portsmouth, N.H.-based outsourced IT firm, says there are
features specific to Firefox that make it a better browser than some of
its competitors, like Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE), which dominates
”There are still reason to have Internet Explorer, but when I’m browsing
and reading, I use Firefox,” says Barksdale, who uses Firefox for his
personal use and for work. ”Well, the benefits I get are the tabbed
browsing, and it seems pretty bullet proof to catching the nasty stuff
that people put up on malicious websites. I’ve got my brother, mother and
father all on Firefox. I went from cleaning out their PCs hard core once
or twice a month to not having any real problems for me to deal with.”
Barksdale says he still needs to use Internet Explorer when he’s running
certain applications that use Microsoft’s .Net framework, which makes
them incompatible with other browsers. For example, there are database
applications that you interface with through the browser, and he couldn’t
use Firefox with them.
”If the primary purpose is for browsing the Web and information
retrieval off the Web, then absolutely, I’d recommend Firefox,” he adds.
One of Barksdale’s favorite features on Firefox is its tabbed browsing,
which opens multiple web pages in a single browser window. It also is
designed to enable users to quickly flip back and forth, and drag and
drop open tabs to keep related pages together. Firefox 1.5 also boasts
improved pop-up blocking, integrated search and better security.
”It’s pretty good,” says Wilcox. ”If we’re talking about capabilities,
there’s not much comparison. Firefox has the tab browsing and other
enhancements that improve the experience… IE6 is an old browser in
Internet time. If Internet years are like dog years, then IE6 is well
into its middle age. Version 7 is available now in a beta preview. It’s
looking good and I do expect it to give Firefox a hard run here.”
Wilcox adds that IE7 is expected to ship sometime this year, but the
folks at the Mozilla Foundation aren’t sitting around just waiting to see
what the release will do to the market. Schroepfer says Firefox V2.0 also
is expected to be released later this year, going into beta in the middle
of the year.
Schroepfer says they’re making some changes to the user interface,
tweaking how tab browsing, searches and book marks work. ”We’re trying
to make it easier for people to organize and search information,” he
says. ”Someone might think about a page they saw five days ago and now
they want to get back to it. We want to make that easier.”