Imagine Internet without Firefox

In my previous post I analyzed the browser market share and trends prevalent for last 2 years. The analysis yielded interesting facts; firstly Google Chrome growth rate is as high as 210% since 2010 while Mozilla Firefox is losing its market share in favor of Google’s Browser. Irrespective of how the battle Google Chrome vs. Mozilla Firefox ends up, the good thing is Microsoft’s IE is declining severely after enjoying supreme dominance over the market- and that in favor of open source software.  This has some valuable lessons to reach us!

Firstly open source softwares can not only compete with proprietary softwares but can actually give them a substantial run off money and market. Secondly, open source softwares can better severe human at large (would look in after a while). These are rather obvious conclusions; no one can deny these facts that open source software are emerging as main stream softwares in home and enterprises. But the question remains, how many open source softwares have actually changed the course of Internet/ technology? Probably a handful.

Firefox is indeed one open source project that has proven to be capable then any proprietary software and not only that; it has ended the monopoly of Microsoft in the web browser market. Have you ever dared to realize “what a web would be without Firefox”?! When I started to think, I came up with a horrifying picture of the Internet itself.
We are tied to our web browsers for nearly anything we want to accomplish. From searching information for your children’s school project to fetching recipes, shopping to banking and then some complex research; reading news, collaborating on projects, freelancing every small or big task we do in our daily life has a portion of web browser in it. What do you expect if your web browser wasn’t free? Not free of cost, but was controlled by a company driven by their financial motives? Let’s investigate deeper:

No Freedom of Internet: Of course, Internet without Firefox would be heavily proprietary owned by the one and only Microsoft; all of us had to see the web from the eyes of IE- IE that was owned by a single company. Everything, content and information to reach you would be controlled by Microsoft; and Microsoft would determined what you would see and get on the web. Internet, which is all about freedom would be reduces to a network governed by a supreme organization.

Back in 2000, Microsoft was alleged for monopolizing the computer operating system market, and integrating the Internet Explorer web browser in their os in an attempt to eliminate competition from Netscape.
Think of a simple consequence; what if you don’t have an option to change the built in search engine on the browser? That is what it would be like. Microsoft would have imposed (such) restrictions like the inability to choose your default search. If you had searched a string “evils of proprietary software” (for that matter some anti-MS content) your web browser/ search would redirect to some unwanted page. Freedom would be completely lost.

Limited Accessibility: Who knows, if IE was the only browser, Microsoft had made it costly piece of software like its Office suit. In such a case Internet would be luxury for rich and only limited to a few wealthy people.

No choice and no competition: If IE was to be the only browser; there would be no choice and no competition. What makes the web browser battle so exciting? It’s simply a healthy completion. Each browser continues to add new features and make improvements in terms of speed, particularly. If there was no contender of IE they would be sluggish to add new features. It was Firefox which emerged as the potential IE contender giving IE a tough fight. Enlist features of web browsers that were introduced by Firefox and you will be stunned. It was Firefox to introduce features like customization, flexibility, ability to block ads, add-ons and tabbed browsing that are now being adopted by other browsers as standard. Obviously, new features come from a healthy completion.

Did you know that MS has already been held guilty of using its market power to form anticompetitive agreements with producers of related goods? According to a report, the government alleged that Microsoft’s decision to integrate Internet Explorer into the operating system was designed to eliminate the competitive threat posed by Netscape and Sun Microsystem’s Java programming language. Furthermore, MS was guilty of using its market power to form anticompetitive agreements with producers of related goods.Enough to say MS was reluctant to compete, perhaps because it wasn’t already confident about the capabilities of IE?

No Open web standards: It was not long before when MS was taking great interest in proprietary technology namely Active X for its poorly selfish benefits.  Note that ActiveX has potential security vulnerabilities, has proprietary nature and its lack of cross-platform compatibility. Thanks to Firefox then, which came to rescue developers whi can now develop according to Open Web Standards (rater than standards determined by Internet Explorer or Microsoft).Today Firefox supports most basic Web standards including HTML, XML, XHTML, CSS (with extensions), JavaScript, DOM, MathML, SVG, XSLT and XPath. Even Wikipedia (supposedly neural party) says “Firefox’s standards support and growing popularity have been credited as one reason Internet Explorer 7 was to be released with improved standards support.” Thank Firefox once more.

To refer to allegations on MS again: Government alleged that Microsoft has used its dominance in the operating system market to force other firms to agree to policies that limit competition from products produced by firms that compete with Microsoft. This shows how MS tried to crush competitors creating a no-competition (and hence no-productivity/creativity) environment.

Technology degradation: Web is the driving agent for number of technologies today, most prominent being Cloud computing. Having a single proprietary gateway for the internet would severely affect its development. Development with proprietary softwares is both expensive and risky (compare the development cost of Android and Apple app, and expect something similar to later with web development). Developers would have not been eager to develop for web owing to initial costs implied by MS supported expensive development tools- resulting in overall degradation of technology.

Betterment of Human beings: Mozilla is a 501C3 public-benefit charitable not for profit organization with an IRS enforced mandate to serve the public. Its prime motives are to serve community not to make money. Even if they make money, it would be used for public service. On the other hand MS for that sake is a typical company than a community. It is driving by the motives of making money. Consider a simple example of language localization with Firefox. Firefox pioneered blocking ads, something MS might not want to integrate (but had to as a result of competition) for its financial benefits.

Having discussed some consequences of not-free internet and having a single proprietary web browser we must thank Firefox for being there when we needed it most.

  • Peter

    From a user perspective, I noticed that the latest Firefox releases became equally good as Chrome. Firefox now loads quicker and seems to have become more lightweight, more responsive. I may therefore choose Firefox again as the primary browser over Chrome. Not that Chrome is getting worse, but I would like to contribute my small part to keep both browsers alive and hence have a solid competition in this field. Chrome is probably collecting too much user profile data, which I believe Firefox is not.

  • shadowguy14

    Imagine the web without Chromium….now that’s horror!!
    I should try FF again, been awhile

  • Mythus

    Nice article, but Opera was the first browser with tabs.