September 15, 2004 2:59 PM PDT

Firefox drawing fans away from Microsoft IE

Open-source browsers Mozilla and Firefox have won over a significant number of defectors from Microsoft's Internet Explorer in the past nine months, Web site metrics suggest.

The gains for Firefox, which was released in a version 1.0 preview on Tuesday, and for Mozilla are most noticeable at Web sites popular by geek-chic early adopters. For example,, a Web development tutorial site found that Mozilla-based browsers were used by 18 percent of its visitors in September, up from 8 percent in January. Internet Explorer use dropped to 75 percent from 84 percent in the same period.

Among CNET readers, site visitors with the Firefox and Mozilla browsers jumped to 18 percent for the first two weeks of September, up from 8 percent in January.

The Mozilla Foundation, which develops both the Mozilla and Firefox browsers and their underlying Gecko browsing engine, has noted that downloads of the Firefox browser have doubled from 3 million for version 0.8 to 6 million for version 0.9. The group said that almost 160,000 people have downloaded the latest version of Firefox, the 1.0 release candidate.

"Obviously, there was a big spike in interest back in July when there were concerns with Internet Explorer security," Mozilla spokesman Bart Decrem said. "You worry that such things are just a blip, but that momentum has seemed to continue for us."

Mainstream users have not shown the same gung-ho enthusiasm for the non-Microsoft browser but have increasingly adopted Firefox, according to Web analytics firm WebSideStory. The percentage of visitors to e-commerce and corporate sites that used Firefox or another Mozilla browser grew to 5.2 percent in September, from 3.5 percent in June 2004. Meanwhile, Microsoft's share of the users shrank from 95.5 percent in June to 93.7 percent in September, according to the company.

Launched by Netscape Communications in 1998, the Mozilla Foundation has not done well in its head-to-head battle with Microsoft until recently. In 2000, Netscape introduced a browser based on the group's open-source development efforts, but that release tanked. Code bloat cost the Mozilla Foundation support for its browser until it focused on producing a smaller and faster application, dubbed Phoenix, then Firebird and finally Firefox to avoid naming issues.

Mozilla's software has benefited from several major security issues that have plagued Microsoft's Internet Explorer. In June, security researchers found that aggressive advertisers were using a flaw in Internet Explorer to surreptitiously install adware on victim's PCs. This week, another graphics flaw could also cause trouble for Internet Explorer users.

Another factor in the open-source group's favor is that its software has some additional features, such as pop-up blocking, that Microsoft only recently added to its browser.

Firefox isn't yet a focus for Martin Taylor, the general manager of Microsoft's platform strategy, who is in charge of Microsoft's response to Linux and open-source software. But he suspects it will come under discussion in coming months.

"Firefox is creeping up, getting more attention," Taylor said in an interview on Wednesday.

CNET's Paul Festa and Stephen Shankland contributed to this report.


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Non-technical site uptake?
I'd like to see some numbers from non-technology related websites. My thought is that most "at work" users, particularly within larger companies with a predictably embedded base of IE, are not switching as fast as home/SMB users. I'm sure that most larger companies are like mine - their IT departments do not support users downloading and installing "non-standard" software packages. Clearly within the IT community, the adoption rate for Mozilla, Safari and Firefox has been significant, but our website (large media/entertainment site - ~10 million PV/day, mostly "at work" audience) logs still show IE and derivatives as having >90% dominance.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
In a Windows-only Corporate setting...
Yes, your assumption of Windows-only-based IT departments
utilizing IE as their web browser of choice is probably true, no
doubt. But the flipside of the coin would be those IT
departments that have Unix/Linux in their infrastructure (for
mission critical type deployments) are definitely using Mozilla/
Netscape of some flavor, and I know this from my own past work
experiences with various companies with such mixed

Firefox will definitely go beyond just the home user.
Posted by JuggerNaut (860 comments )
Link Flag
Biased once again
I find it funny how Mozilla only gets positive feedback from CNet while anything to do with Microsoft gets jumped on within minutes.

This isn't a flame against Firefox, just an observation about the way CNet has been reporting lately.

If there was any bit of fairness left <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a> would have been featured by now and given the same scrutiny that IE endures with every discovered vulnerability.
Posted by Jan Modaal (40 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Internet Explorer is a flaming disaster as a browser in the
current environment. It took very liitle brains to write the IE code
back in Win95 days, and now that lack of intelligence in the
coding has become a very close to fatal flaw.

So, yes, there are a lot of people who really don't appreciate MS's
version of business ethics, but in this case, the emphasis on IE's
innumerable faults is well deserved.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Reply to your post
It's simply because users have had evil trojan horses, vulnerable ports open to web attacks and Microsoft can't seem to get their browser secure. I no longer and haven't from the start ordered things through credit card using the browser. I switch to Netscape. Netscape is Mozilla based I'm sure you know. People are just sick of IE being the top dog in market share. It lacks many features as Mozilla like tabbed browsing for starters. Microsoft needs to update their IE browser with more than just pop-up blocking that they included in XP Service Pack 2. They need to almost start from scratch again. I've always thought it, IE isn't faster at loading most webpages compared to Netscape since version 6.2 and up IMHO. Microsoft, give us a secure browser with more features. Give Mozilla Organization some competition for crying out loud!
Posted by pentium4forever (192 comments )
Link Flag
Maybe its because its warranted
Just because someone slaps you upside the head doesn't mean there isn't a reasons they did it. Same deal if MS is getting slapped around by the various news sites for their craptastic security and monthly security updates in Internet Imploder.
If something stinks unless you are a fanboy you aren't going to sit there and pretend it smells like roses.
Mozilla is getting attention because:
1. Its a company that gives a **** about their browser.
2. They are pouring their soul into this product which for all intents and purposes is the only product they have (Thunderbird and Bugzilla not withstanding.) Internet Exploder has ALWAYS been a means to an end for Microsoft. After the browser wars ended they couldn't have given less of a **** about browser quality or features.
So please take your complaining that is biased and stow it somewhere else. If anything they are the equivalent of Fox news for Microsoft propaganda. I'm more then a little stunned at the unbiased reviews and news articles that is providing.
Posted by Jonathan (832 comments )
Link Flag
It reflects a true situation
I was preparing a big shipment of 441 pounds through the Fedex online facility, on Mozilla. I entered all weights and sizes for 9 packages and clicked on 'co ntinue' to finalize the shipment. Nothing happened, but there was a footnote warning me that if I clicked on 'continue' more than once, the shipment might be repeated, with obvious consequences. So I called the Fedex technical support on the phone.
The first thing the technician asked was "Are you not on IE?". I said "I am using Mozilla" He said "Then open IE, and I will be able to help"
It turned out that the problem was even worse with IE, because Fedex's web script did not accept my entries but did not issue any error messages about my entering dimensions in a certain order.
When I complained about that, the tech said "Fedex does not support browsers other than IE or Netscape". Large companies such as Fedex, UPS and DHL need to revise their policy about computer platform support urgently, because they are obsolete.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
They won me over.
I would be using Mozilla itself if I had POP e-mail and usenet, but Firefox works just as well and is lean and mean. Tabbed browsing, built in pop-up blockers. Of course, IE will feature all of those in a "innovative" new version soon.
Posted by kb0old1978 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Try Opera
Opera has all those features and more. and it is more customizable. it's been out longer too. pop-uo block since last YEAR!
Posted by deaftouch (3 comments )
Link Flag
Internet Explorer Tried To Kill My PC!
I was having awful problems with my machine because IE is pop-up, adware and spyware HELL!!! While I was still using it, my PC seemed to be on its last leg, trying very hard to crash.

A friend suggested some clean-ups for me and advised me to stop using Yahoo as my homepage (frickin' ad-magnet that it is) and switch to the Firefox browser. In the two weeks that I've been using Frefox, I am happy to report I have not seen one single pop-up ad, encountered one kernel error, or had my machine freeze up and blue-screen on me. It's like some kind of miracle medicine for the PC! I have no intention of ever opening an IE browser on my machine again. I'm delighted to hear that more and more of us are discovering this wonderful tool.

Go Go Mozilla!!!

Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape are simply better!
Internet Explorer needs a major update, not just pop-up blocking. It's interface isn't as good as Netscape/Mozilla or Firefox. Keep in mind Netscape is written with the code of Mozilla so they are very similar except AOL goodies and such. Firefox is a good browser, I prefer Mozilla because it can give the suite--entire package, email client, at least. IE needs tabbed browsing for starters. The browser wars are not over. Mozilla Organization is fighting back.
Posted by pentium4forever (192 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Opera still wins
I downloaded Firefox. Opera is still way more customizable. has All the features of firefox and has been out longer. the only drawback to Opera is the ad banner. done away with a $20-30 thank you to the company.
Posted by deaftouch (3 comments )
Link Flag
Version 1.0?
The article says the newly posted version is 1.0, but I thought it was 0.10; am I mistaken?
Posted by Not Bugged (195 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No, it's 1.0PR (preview release).
Posted by (26 comments )
Link Flag
Firefox best on Windows, good on Mac
I've tried Firefox on both Windows and Mac. There's no question
that it's a great alternative to Internet Explorer. It's very fast,
stable, dependable, and renders web pages better than
Microsoft's IE. Here's a decent review of the latest 1.0 version:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

However, the experience is not as great on the Mac platform,
probably because Safari is a very good user experience.

What goes around comes around, right? Microsoft fought so
hard to integrate Internet Explorer into the Windows operating
system. Both have huge security holes and now Microsoft can't
fix either one.

Sad. Thankfully, even though Microsoft has about 90% of the
computer desktop market share, they don't have a monopoly on
quality products. Look for "open source" to take off next year.
Posted by (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Chosen in desparation, now preferred
Did a massive upgrade of IE security patches, which caused massive performance problems. Went to Firefox in desparation and stayed because of superior performance. Not going back - (IT Pro)
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
No popups on mozilla !
Posted by grey_eminence (153 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Opera still spanks FireFox
pop-up block, over a YEAR ago! integrated zoom feature, more customizing options via drag n' drop. can suppress embedded images since over a year ago! and Microsoft is just now doing something about the .JPEG hole. RSS able like firefox, only it's been out earlier. skinnable, like firefox is and IE is still not(or only w/ great difficulty and 3rd party software). built in e-mail client sharing the same security features, which firefox still relies on outlook/outlook express. the only drawback is an ad banner that goes away w/ a $20-30 thank you to the company. An d microsoft blocks its functionality on its sites
Posted by deaftouch (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
....we get your message !!! ;-)

Opera, FireFox, Safari = three good browsers without the MS
gene defects. Each have a crowd of advocates. All whomp IE .

Next, look at Outlook Express replacements liike Thunderbird,
Eudora (old but effective) and Apple's Mail.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Why to use Firefox over IE
I switched to firefox when it was firebird version 3. It was due to the features that it included. Also, due to the size of the application, was a big plus, and being able to manage your mozilla extentions and themes. Speed of the browser was my last factor, it was just quicker.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I Love Firefox
I've been using Firefox for about 6 months now and I love it. I can't wait until it reaches 1.0!
Posted by PCCRomeo (432 comments )
Reply Link Flag
and your point is?
They post on vunerabilities as soon as they're publicized. IE vunerabilities tend to get publicized more quickly because 90+% of users use it.

They posted on the shell: handler bug as soon as that was publicized, and *then* posted that it also affected IE when that was discovered. has been timely and complete in their reporting.
Posted by rdean (119 comments )
Reply Link Flag
always about security
what bothers me about articles that report on a new browser is
that it always goes against internet explorer on the basis of
internet explorer's security issues. this is all fine because if you
write that security is an issue it gets people reading. but then
microsoft will end up issuing a statement saying something
along the lines of "we have released windows xp service pack 2
which makes internet explorer a lot more secure."
now all the home "unknowing" internet users are happy and go
back to internet explorer. but what about those people not on
windows xp?

an article needs to be written by a new site (not someone's blog)
about the fact that internet explorer is holding back web
development due to the fact that it is highly uncompliant with
various web standards. css comes to mind. transparency in
.png files comes to mind.

tell the "unknowing" internet users about this sort of thing and
hopefully that will stir some thought in their mind about how
microsoft has promised full .png since around internet explorer
4, and has still not delivered.

i would love to see what microsoft's statement would look like if
they were asked by a news site about the fact that it is lagging
behind, and, honestly, holding back web design.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Why you should NEVER use Internet Explorer!
After using Mozilla and Mozilla Firefox for some time, and telling people the benefits of Web-surfing with them instead of IE, I created a Web page which demonstrates rather nicely IE's outdatedness:

No, it's not really a commercial site, and I'm not advertising anything. I just got tired of pop-up and banner ads on my personal site.

The Mozilla products, which, are both free, and not tied in with the Windows operating system, correctly interpret code which has been standardized since the mid-1990's. Internet Explorer does not. Yet, most people believe that Microsoft can fix security problems that they've only known about a few weeks ago? LOL

The gullibility of the sheeple continues to astound and amuse me. ;-)

- CyberWoLfman
Posted by CyberWoLfman (47 comments )
Reply Link Flag
90% just don't know
Face it folks, those of us ABLE to even sign up and discuss issues such as these on a forum, are 10% (approximate unsupported guesstimate)of the users of computers and the internet. The other 90% just have no clue.

IE comes with the MS OS that came with their computer. It works (miraculously !!) and they get web pages. They have no idea of what a browser is, nor that there are alternatives to it. They don't care, as long as the pages keep rolling in. Security? Against what? They don't know..don't care.

See where I'm going ? Billy G has the lower 90% by the short-and-curlys. Only if IE is totally stripped from the M$ OS, requiring users to either purchase a web browser, or (lord jeesus) discover they can download one for free, all of which requires some free-thinking, will a fine browser such as Mozilla or Firefox gain "marketshare".

Web developers also have to get weaned off of Billy G...but what comes first ??.....the chicken or the egg ?
Posted by Kencat (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Where is IE for Linux?
If internet explorer was a true web browser, it would be available in versions compiled for other platforms. I have always used an 'alternate' browser and been very happy with my choice.

The only disturbing result of the IE dominance is that many web services (read == corporate) are ONLY available with the client using a version of IE. This produces lock-in even more than bundling the 'browser' with the o/s. I should know, my wife works for a company that sells a web based service and the company service only works with IE.

As for my self, I only feel secure on the internet when running a recent, updated version of Linux. My browser of choice is Mozilla, although I did prefer Opera until recently, when my 'open links in background tab' function stopped working. I also identify myself as using an alternate browser, unless I have access problems, so the issue of alt-browsers identifing themselves as IE is real to me.

Mozilla and Opera are solid alternatives, and under Linux, represent the best security for me as well. Using Mandrake 10, I have a hardware and software firewall, but I use no pop-up blocker software, no anti-spyware software and most importantly, no anti-virus software as well. (no need for it unless I am a SAMBA server for Windoze machines... HA)

The KDE desktop has continued to improve, and I expect to see articles a year from now like the one that started this thread, but instead of the subject being why do you use IE, the subject will be why do you use M$.

Redmond Hackstone
Posted by (1 comment )
Link Flag
What could be better than a browser that "you" can control? So many software suppliers give you no options. This wonderful browser can be as light as you want! I am also very pleased with its ability to fly through web pages!! Yes I have had some issues but never like I have had with I.E.. This is truly a revolutionary product. All programs should give one the options that are available with this browser. Jim
Posted by bluffarmer (1 comment )
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