THE OPEN SOURCE BROWSER Firefox celebrates its fifth birthday today.
Firefox was released by the Mozilla Foundation on November 9, 2004 and was immediately so popular that demand promptly crashed the server. The outfit spent an hour trying to get everything online again.
It was not clear how Firebadger 1.0 would go. The Mozzarella Foundation had a crack at releasing its own browser in 2002, but that was declared too cheesy by the great unwashed.
After five years, Firefox still has not killed off Internet Exploder but it has become a competitive player with something around 25 per cent market share, depending on who's counting.
However all is not well at the Fox set. In the good old days it was all about beating Microsoft and changing the world. Firefox forced the Vole of Redmond to look at web standards and take them more seriously.
However now Google and Apple are also entering the browser market and making a name for themselves.
The web has changed too. When Fireferret first peeked onto the wide world web the Internet was mostly documents and a few shopping sites. Now a browser is expected to run applications and share data. It is also expected to be positively secure and stop people from visiting attack websites.
Firefox did so well because it could adapt quite quickly and was packed full of features. It was also a lot faster than anything the Vole could offer because it was a fresh design and you could opt out of unwanted features.
But now the open sourcerers have to compete with shedloads of marketing hype from Google and Apple. They have been peddling browsers that look sexy and claim to be better than Firefox.
Firefox version 3.5 arrived in June and version 3.6 is due out by the end of the year. It is also starting to show signs of age. It is becoming almost as bloated as its principal rival, Internet Exploder. As a result Google's Chrome is starting to look a lot more appealing.
The next things that will happen with Firefox involve better support for HTML5, which supports the introduction of Web Open Font Format (WOFF) and the Ogg Theora video format. These will allow for webpage rendering using open source fonts and enable video to be played in the browser without requiring the use of proprietary technologies like Microsoft's Silverlight and Adobe's Flash.
However there is a slight problem in that these are just open sauce geek ideals. Most people don't really care if a web application is proprietary or not. What made Firefox great was that it was faster, more secure than Internet Exploder and offered more. If that stops being the case then the next five years could see Firefox fall out of favour and become a niche browser, while Chrome and Internet Explorer slug it out for dominance. µ
Oh and it'll also help give aural pleasure
But it might still not be enough to make virtual reality super appealing
And a ridiculous competition
Now you can talk to your silly-looking earbuds too