Launched on November 9, 2004, the web browser Firefox is now five years old.
Starting life as an experimental arm of the Mozilla project, whose hefty suite of apps included a web browser, mail client, news reader, irc client and web page editor (Mozilla Composer), Firefox looked to offer a slimmed-down alternative to the wobbly lard of Internet Explorer.
The new browser proved an instant hit with surfers, taking vast chunks out of Microsoft’s seemingly-unassailable market share.
Over a billion downloads later, it’s now climbed to take a quarter of the worldwide browser share.
Offering thousands of plugins (add-ons), themes and other customisable options, and supported by a thriving developer community and over 330 million users, it’s been our browser of choice for several years.
Writing on hacks.mozilla.org , Christopher Blizzard sees the browser focusing on privacy, video and mobile in the future (or “going forward” if you want to sound a bit of an arse):
Over the next five years everyone can expect that the browser should take part in a few new areas – to act as the user agent it should be. Issues around data, privacy and identity loom large. You will see the values of Mozilla’s public benefit mission reflected in our product choices in these areas to make users safer and help them understand what it means to share data with web sites.
Expect to see big changes in the video space. HTML5-based video and open video codecs are starting to appear on the web as web developers make individual choices to support a standards-based, royalty-free approach. Expect to see changes in the expectations around the licensing of codecs.
And over the next five years mobile will play an increasingly important role in our lives, and in the future of the web. The decisions of users, carriers, governments and the people who build phones will have far-reaching effects on this new extension to the Internet and how people will access information for decades to come.
Keen to celebrate their achievements, Mozilla plans to throw parties around the world as part of a campaign called “Light the World with Firefox”, which will also involve illuminating the night skies of cities like Paris, Tokyo, Rome and San Francisco with the the Firefox logo, Batman-style.
More info – and a rather nice animated video here: www.spreadfirefox.com/5years/en-US/.