Joined: 18 September 2004
It seems Microsoft have been using MSN Search as a stick with which to beat users of Mozilla Firefox. Firefox users who try to submit web sites to MSN Search receive a message telling them, "Please Upgrade Your Browser". This message is not sent to users of other alternative browsers, including current versions of regular Mozilla, Konqueror and Opera, whose users fell foul of similar tactics in the past. The implication is that Microsoft are more concerned about the success of Firefox than they have been letting on.
Since the release of Firefox 1.0 in November 2004 there have been millions of downloads and many positive reviews in the press. IE's grip on the web seems to be weakening for the first time in it's history, ostensibly as a result of Firefox's rapid growth. It appears that the browser wars might be hotting up again. However, Microsoft don't seem to be in much of a hurry to release a new version of IE, promising the next installment with Longhorn, whose release isn't slated until the end of the year (some industry pundits don't expect to see it until well into 2006). It's hard to know what new innovations might be worked into future version of IE, but it's a good bet that close integration with the Windows operating system is likely to continue, raising difficult questions about security.
Are Microsoft worried about Firefox competing with IE? It seems doubtful that they are losing a lot of sleep over people browsing with Firefox. It's probably more likely that they are worried about Free Software as a whole, and that Firefox's success is contributing to this. Linux or Apache might be written off as special cases - after all operating systems and web-servers are somewhat different from mainstream application software. But with a high-profile open source project like Firefox becoming a serious threat to Microsoft's domination of every-day computing, their monopoly doesn't look as untouchable as it has in the past. That might cause some restless nights in Redmond.
It remains to be seen what Microsoft's long term response will be. I suspect not a whole lot until the release of Longhorn. After that we might start to see some legal attacks on successful open source projects, probably using patents. For Microsoft this could be a risky strategy - it would do them no favors to appear to be bullying hobbyists, especially in the wake of increasing public dissatisfaction over virus and spy-ware woes. On the other side they may be driven down the legal route if more traditional tactics continue to prove ineffective in stemming the tide of Free Software.
For now, it appears Firefox users must put up with annoyances like the MSN submit problem. Ultimately, only time will tell who is the victor in the new browser wars.
Joined: 01 June 2004
Joined: 06 November 2004
Joined: 01 November 2004
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