November 9, 2004 4:34 AM PST

Mozilla releases Firefox 1.0

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significant security measures, but that update is available only to the approximately half of all Windows users running Windows XP.

Mozilla's bold moves
With the early successes of Firefox, the Mozilla Foundation has capitalized not only on the 19 months of work since the Firefox project launched (under the legally contested name Phoenix), but on the six years of Mozilla's tumultuous history.

Mozilla was the product of a bold--some said desperate--strategy by Netscape Communications to rescue its Netscape browser from oblivion at the hands of Microsoft's relentless marketing practices. Many of those practices were found to have violated federal law in the government's antitrust case against Microsoft.

In 1998, Netscape decided to do what grassroots programmers had long done but no major corporation had--release its software into open-source development. That meant anyone could freely see, use and contribute to the underlying code according to the terms of an open-source license.

Mozilla's initial results were long in coming and short on quality. Netscape's first products based on Mozilla's code were savaged as undercooked, and Mozilla's later releases, while more stable, were bypassed for being overweight.

While Mozilla struggled to turn out its browser, AOL acquired Netscape and merged with Time Warner. The merged company wound up laying off hundreds of its paid browser developers, settling its differences with Microsoft, and spinning off Mozilla as an independent foundation.

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