Is Firefox Burning Out

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2005-03-08 Print this article Print

?"> Its not just Windows users who are facing a rocky upgrade route: Firefox 1.0.1 wasnt available for Linux and Mac users at all until several days later.

You would hope that as Firefox popularity grows by leaps and bounds, these kind of problems would be fixed. I wish I could be so optimistic.

Mike Connor, a core Firefox developer, writes in his blog, "In nearly three years, we havent built up a community of hackers around Firefox, for a myriad of reasons, and now I think were in trouble. Of the six people who can actually review in Firefox, four are AWOL, and one doesnt do a lot of reviews. And Im on the verge of just walking away indefinitely, since it feels like Im the only person who cares enough to make it an issue."

If Firefoxs reviewing developers, the key people of any open-source project, have burned out on the project, Firefox is in a lot of trouble.

Forget about trying to get new and better versions out. Theyre not going to be able to keep up on security fixes and bugs. For example, it used to be that if you ran Firefox you never saw annoying pop-up ad windows.

That was then. This is now.

Today, instead of pop-ups, there are sites that feed you pop-unders: advertising windows that deploy under your current Web browser window, which you then see when you close your window.

Its annoying, it needs to be fixed, and if Connor is correct, I dont see that happening anytime soon. A Firefox extension, Adblock, can make the pop-under problem more manageable, but you must set it up manually for it to work.

Forget about Microsoft coming out with IE 7 to challenge Firefox. If Firefox rots from the inside out—the way so many other programs, like the original Netscape browser, did—then its not going anywhere much beyond where it is now.

How will Microsofts Internet Explorer 7.0 release challenge Mozillas Firefox? Click here to read more. Heres the long and short of it. If the Mozilla Foundation and Firefox friends like Google dont start spending money—right now—to hire more programmers, more project managers and more servers, it wont matter how many ads in the New York Times Firefox supporters take out, Firefox will have already reached its high tide of popularity and we can only wait for the ebb to begin. Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been working and writing about technology and business since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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