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Firefox 4 – Mozilla versus the world

When you think of a giant lizard-monster stomping through a major metropolitan area, you tend to think of Godzilla. Or maybe Rodan. What you probably don’t think about is a non-profit corporation that helps millions around the world gain access to the information they need in their day-to-day lives…

This article originally appeared in issue 93 of Linux User & Developer magazine.

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While most folks have forgotten about the company’s origin in AOL’s Netscape acquisition, and perhaps even the name of the non-profit itself, everyone knows Firefox. And Linux users, in particular, depend on this non-profit’s products just as much as they rely on any other piece of open source software.

Firefox 4 has been in development now for almost three years. The folks at Mozilla have had some clear goals for version 4: faster JavaScript performance, easier AJAX debugging and full HTML 5 support. The official ship date, however, is still ‘when it’s done’.

But Firefox 4 is not the only browser on the block any more. The days of Mozilla fighting the good fight alone against the Borg-ish Microsoft are gone. Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari have utilised WebKit to become compelling and nimble browsers in their own right. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 is touted as a standards-compliant liberator of the ‘Beautiful Web’. And upstart browser Opera has succeeded in drawing away some of the most vitriolic of browser lovers, the same people who used to make web videos asking strangers on the street why they used Firefox.

Indeed, the days when the giant orange lizard stood shoulder to shoulder with Tux and the BSD devil seem to be gone. Mozilla is still a great company with plenty of interesting projects, like Thunderbird, Sunbird and Bugzilla. But Firefox is no longer the only standards-compliant choice for the open web.

Mike Shaver, vice president of engineering at Mozilla, said he is actually impressed by much of the work being done in the other browsers. He joked that he was formerly most proud of the Internet Explorer 7 release, because it showed that Microsoft was playing catch-up after the abysmal IE6 release. But today, he’s unable to take simple potshots at the competition, because the competition has finally come around to the power of standards.

Page 2 – Standards issues

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Firefox 4 beta review by Joe Brockmeier
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