Mauriat Miranda     mjmwired

My Disappointment in Mozilla

This post is a bit more technical, excuse the over-simplifications. Many geeks have been raving about Mozilla releasing Firefox last year. As wonderful as it all is, I'm still not impressed. Let me explain.

It will be 7 years on January 22 that Netscaped announced plans for an open source browser. It wasn't until 4 years later in June 2002, that Mozilla 1.0 was finally released. Prior in 2001 Netscape had about 15% of the browser market share compared to Microsoft's 75%. Lately IE's share has been dipping (from 95% to 90% possibly?), but it's a little bit too early to celebrate. That majority is controlled by more than simply what people choose to use.

Can everyone choose to use Mozilla or Firefox? Yes. Can everyone choose to not use MSIE? Not really. Due to Microsoft's intelligent design of making the browser component re-usable, IE runs in countless Windows applications. It can be seen in RealPlayer, Winamp, WordPerfect, and is critical to any application from MS. Not using IE thinking you are safer, more secure or for better privacy is flawed if you still use any of the countless IE embedded products. In fact it is virtually impossible for the average user to use Windows without using IE.

Back to Mozilla. Let me give some credit. Mozilla was also designed intelligently (or foolishly) in that the actual browser you are seeing is entirely rendered by the Mozilla-Gecko engine. That means the entire GUI, all buttons, menus, scroll bars, graphics, and EVERYTHING inside the window are being created by the internal workings of the engine. In comparison, IE, Opera and others use the native operating system libraries to render the GUI - which make them fast and less resource intensive. Mozilla is actually somewhat slower, and inherently takes up more memory and cpu. Looking at the flipside, by doing this they make the browser virtually identical in form and functionality on every different platform they can support (which is quite a few). So the development cost is minimal for each new platform. IE, Opera and others have to create special versions for each platform (if they even choose to support them at all). Even given all of that, the obvious majority of web surfering (~95%) is done through Windows and it is foolish to not prioritize Windows.

So when I'm in Windows, I use Firefox wishing it was a fully native windows based application. I know that won't happen, but I checked up on K-Meleon, a native Windows based browser using the Mozilla engine. I don't find it incredibly usable but it proves what "could have been". I downloaded version 0.9 and was impressed. It is fast (faster than FF, IE, Mozilla) and has a rich set of features. But but but but ... it is rough around the edges, will never gain critical market share and will most likely suffer a gradual death or at best a horribly slow growth like Mozilla.

Seven years later the enthusiasm has worn off.

Posted in: Internet, Technology,


  • Mike on January 26, 2005 ~ 01:01 AM

    formerly called MYIE2. iz a IE skin, but it offers tab browsing. if u recall, i experimented w/ FF (is mozilla really all dat diff from FF?), but hated dat it was a monster resource hog. never mind it would crash on my chigga-ass from time 2 time…