eWEEK Labs Looks Back at 7 Years of the Mozilla Browser

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eWEEK Labs Looks Back at 7 Years of the Mozilla Browser

by Jim Rapoza

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Mozillas Debut

In 2002, after three years of development, the open-source Mozilla browser was released to the public. A suite of tools including a browser, an HTML editor, and an e-mail and news reader client, Mozilla 1.0 was a superior browser to Microsoft's Internet Explorer upon release.

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Stunted Progress

While the Mozilla browser gained rave reviews out of the gate, its progress was hamstrung by the Mozilla project's affiliation with Netscape and AOL. These organizations insisted that Mozilla was just for developers and that regular users should instead choose the inferior Netscape browsers of the time. While several 1.x versions of Mozilla were released, the classic browser suite never saw a 2.0 version.

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Separate Peace

Once the Mozilla Foundation separated itself from its Netscape/AOL legacy, it focused on building a streamlined browser-only release designed to be attractive to regular Web users as well as to advanced developers and other power users. The result was Firefox 1.0, which was immediately popular with users looking for an alternative to IE.

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While Mozilla was no longer developing the classic Mozilla browser, many in its user community refused to let it die. This led to the creation of SeaMonkey, a community effort to maintain an up-to-date version of Mozilla similar to the original Internet application suite.

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Firefox 2.0

Two years after the release of Firefox 1.0, Firefox 2.0 provided improved ease of use and increased extensibility for users. With these advantages, Firefox continued to slowly take market share from IE.

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Firefox 3.0

Firefox 3.0, the current generation of the Mozilla browser, launched with a host of significant improvements to usability and security and with a new look and feel. In every way, Firefox 3 is an excellent browser, but it now competes in a completely different world than the original Mozilla did: The browser as a tool is much more important to businesses, and Firefox is not only dueling with IE but also faces serious competition from Google Chrome, Apple Safari and Opera Software's Opera browser.

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Future of the Web

While it has come a long way, from Mozilla 1.0 to Firefox 3.0, Mozilla continues to work toward the future of the Web and the browser. Much of this work is done at Mozilla Labs, where projects such as Prism point to a future where browsers will enable the cloud operating system.