Sunday, August 19, 2007

Browser War II

It was 1994 when I became aware of this thing called the Internet, which had actually been around since the 1950's but had only been released to the public in 1990. At that time I was playing the original Doom and the original Warcraft on DOS and some people ran Windows for Workgroups 3.11.

1994 was also the year that saw the foundation of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) which is the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web.

A friend of mine who we used to call was studying programming at uni used an OS called Linux. We used to call him "Spanish Bob" because his name was Robert and he came from Spain. He could dial-up to the university servers to get on the Internet where we would use Netscape Navigator to browse web pages and IRC chat with people from all over the world!

In August of 1995, Microsoft Windows95 was released and along with it was the Microsoft Windows95 Plus! Pack which would include Internet Explorer 1.0 to directly compete with Netscape's browser.

This was the beginning of a period known as The Browser Wars. By 1997 it looked like Netscape were clear winners with over 70% of all netizens using Netscape and less than 20% were using Internet Explorer.

Then Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 was released which was more faithful to the open standards set out by the W3C than Netscape Comunicator 4.0 and Microsoft were giving Internet Explorer away for free, supporting it's development with the success of Windows95 while Netscape's browser was pretty much thier only comercial product. By this time, IE was being bundled with every copy of Windows. By the end of 1998, Internet Explorer had won.

In the wake of Browser War I, the Mozilla Project was launched by Netscape in 1998. Netscape released the source code for Netscape Communicator to the public, making it free for anyone to disassemble, alter and redistribute the code. This was like Netscapes poison dagger for Microsoft Internet Explorer, allowing the entire world to build a browser that they wanted, one that would adhere stricly to the open standards set out by the W3C, allow all manner of add-ons and extensions and provide the features that the modern netizen wanted.

The Mozilla suite, which included a browser, e-mail, address book and internet relay chat client, didn't really become that popular, but with a safe monopoly on the browser market, Microsoft had all but stopped development on Internet Explorer. Mozilla had a community that was alive with enthusiasm with updates and new features being added regularly.

In 2004, the browser component of the Mozilla suite was separated into a stand-alone product and Firefox 1.0 was released. Browser War II officially commenced.

Firefox is up to version and if you've never tried browsing with Firefox before, you should really try it out. Also, if you are sick of Outlook automatically opening virus infested e-mail for you whether you like it or not, perhaps you should try out Thunderbird, the standalone Mozilla e-mail client. I don't use Thunderbird myself, I use Firefox to access my Gmail instead.

Firefox = Good.

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