|‘Open’ browser Firefox achieves 500 million downloads|
CONQUEROR: As Firefox goes strong with half-a-billion downloads, Netscape passes into history
BANGALORE: Firefox, the open-source Web browser, has claimed that it crossed half a billion downloads worldwide last week.
The browser that was born from Mozilla, the free cross-platform open source Web browser framework, turned out to be the most popular of the “open” alternatives to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. It acquired new users at a steady 20 million-a-month during 2007. However, its overall share among leading browsers in use is estimated to hover around 17 per cent.
Firefox 1.0 was released in November 2004 as an experiment within the Mozilla Project and the currently available free download is version 188.8.131.52 — a 5.7 MB tool. However, version 3 is already in the beta or testing stage and has incorporated some 1,300 changes.
An edition optimised for portable phones called Mozilla Firefox for Mobiles will be available later this year, to start with for the Windows Mobile and Linux platforms.
Ironically, Firefox’s surge forward in the browser stakes comes in a week that also saw the passing into history of the iconic browser Netscape, which for millions of users provided their first feel of surfing the world wide web in the Internet’s dawn, the early 1990s.
On Saturday AOL, which has owned Netscape since 1994, withdrew the browser’s life support system and recommended users to change over to Firefox or Flock, two browsers which like Netscape are also based on Mozilla.
Netscape was not the Internet’s first browser — that honour goes to Mosaic — but it was crafted by American software engineer Marc Andreessen who created Mosaic when he was a student. The market share of Netscape dwindled after Microsoft entered the field with Internet Explorer. By 2006, Netscape was being used by just 1 per cent of surfers.
As of today, it will still be operational. But AOL has stopped all active support, which will effectively kill it very soon… a sad day for those who recall, with fondness, its friendly look-and-feel.
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