Six years ago today, (9 November 2004), Firefox 1.0 hit the servers.
Development of the browser was officially announced in April 2003 and
originally called Phoenix --
raising the ire of the trademark holders. Renaming it Firebird
raised the ire of the free database software
developers, so it was finally branded Firefox
nine months before it's inital release.
At the time, Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 was the dominant player in
the browser market. A security nightmare and notoriously non-compliant
nevertheless had a 98%+ market share and was considered unasailable.
What difference could a non-bundled browser that users had to manually
download and install for themselves make?
Quite a lot, actually.
As Firefox started nibbling at their numbers, Microsoft's browser
developers were dragged out of the semi-retirement they'd been in since
the release of IE6 in 2001, and eventually churned out IE7 in late 2006
-- copying many of Firefox's features. Six days later, Firefox 2.0 hit
the servers, and the battle's continued ever since.
Firefox 3.0 was released in June 2008 and set a Guiness World Record
for over 8 million unique downloads in a single day. And it's numbers
keep on climbing. According to NetMarketShare
(October 2010), Firefox now has 23% of the browser market with IE down
to 59%. That will certainly fall further with all the fun
features coming in Firefox 4.0
. It's currently in beta (get a copy here
) and due
for release early next year
So raise your glasses this evening (as if you needed an excuse!) and
toast Firefox, the little browser that could.