Just 1 month after releasing Firefox 1.0, the Mozilla Foundation reports 10 million downloads of its Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser alternative. The milestone came shortly after news that Firefox had obtained 7.4 percent of the Web browser market at the expense of market leader IE, which hasn't had a credible competitor since Netscape was still a viable business in 1998.
"It seems that people are switching from Microsoft's Internet Explorer to Mozilla's new Firefox browser," OneStat.com Cofounder Niels Brinkman noted recently. However, Microsoft argues that OneStat's market share surveys don't include corporate Web browser users, who still use IE almost exclusively. Indeed, in my own unscientific polling of corporate users, most of them still use IE at work, although many have switched to Firefox for personal use.
The problem with IE is that hackers have almost constantly targeted its numerous security holes. Just this month, Microsoft released a patch for a major IE security hole that let attackers remotely control users' systems after they navigated to a malicious Web site. Frustrations with such vulnerabilities and a lack of any exciting new end user features in several years have led millions of people to switch to Firefox this year. In response, Microsoft has tightened up security in the version of IE that ships with Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), although the company refuses to make that version of IE available to other users, and left open the possibility that it might add new features to IE in the near future