Firefox Takes the Good With the Bad

Open-source browser developer Mozilla was hit with some good news and some bad news this week.

The good news is that the Firefox browser has gained 10 percent of the planet’s browser market share, according to UK Web analytics firm OneStat.com. Further good news is that the first release of Firefox 1.5 Release Candidate 1 (RC1) is available for download.

The bad news is that some users are complaining about Mozilla’s update mechanism.

First Things First

Let’s start with the good news. Firefox 1.5 RC 1 became available late Tuesday. RC 1 is designed to allow testers to ensure there are no last-minute problems with the Firefox 1.5 code. At least one more release candidate is expected before the final launch of the new version.

Firefox 1.5 offers several new features, such as an improved software update system, faster back and forward navigation, a feature for clearing private browsing data, drag-and-drop reordering of browser tabs, a redesigned options/preferences window, and better pop-up blocking.

Mozilla said Web standards support is also improved, with added support for Scalable Vector Graphics, JavaScript 1.6 and more CSS. DHTML accessibility features, enhanced security, and more support for Mac OSX is also part of the new release.

Complaints Emerge Over RC1

The problem is that the update mechanism has its share of glitches, according to irate users who flocked to message boards to complain about the new browser. It appears that Windows users experienced problems and made it known on both the MozillaZine site and Asa Dotzler’s blog. Dotzler oversees Mozilla’s quality control.

“It seems Automatic Update needs more ‘tweaking’ than expected,” wrote Firefox 1.5 RCI user, Alex Herrero, in a comment to Dotzler’s blog.

Jupiter Research Analyst Joe Wilcox, however, pointed out to LinuxInsider that the whole point of a release candidate is to work out all the last minute problems. The fact that there are so many people responding, he said, could stem from one of two reasons.

“You could look at it from the perspective that the responses mean there’s a problem that needs to be addressed, or it could also be indicative of how much more interest there is in the use of the browser,” Wilcox said. “No feedback and then problems occurring later on is a bad situation. The best situation is the release candidate goes out and people respond and say, ‘Wait a minute! What about this? What about that?”

Growing Share

In more good news for Mozilla, OneStat.com on Wednesday reported that the open-source project’s browsers have a total global usage share of 11.51 percent. The total usage share of Mozilla increased 2.82 percent since April 2005. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer still dominates the global browser market with a global usage share of 85.45 percent which is 1.18 percent less as at the end of April.

“The global usage share of Mozilla’s browsers is still growing and it seems that Netscape users and some Internet Explorer users are switching to the Firefox version,” said Niels Brinkman, co-founder of OneStat.com. “It also looks like that browser users of Internet Explorer for Apple’s Mac are switching to Safari because the global usage share is still growing. It is also interesting to see that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has less globalusage share in the U.S. as in the UK. Mozilla’s browsers are more popular in the U.S. and Canada as in the UK.”

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