Thursday, April 27, 2006

Google Puts Money Behind Firefox Movement

Google has unveiled a new plan to spread the open-source Firefox Internet browser, starting off a new phase in the browser wars with Microsoft. An offer from the Internet search giant enables Web sites to run small ads promoting Firefox and gain a referral fee of one dollar for every downloaded version of Firefox that has a Google toolbar.
Google launched the new program Wednesday evening by running an ad for the first time on its usually ad-free home page. The campaign also represents the first time Google has offered a financial incentive for the adoption of Firefox.

Even without such help, the open source browser has steadily been gnawing away at the dominance of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser since 2004.

From a market share high of 95 percent, Internet Explorer is now down to 85 percent, as web surfers discover the smooth delights of Firefox, which offers better security and powerful features, including tabbed browsing, which allow you to open multiple windows in a single browser, and "autofill" which automatically completes form applications.

Google already employs some of the key team members contributing to Firefox and its latest initiative underlines its desire to kept Firefox's momentum building. "Google is getting serious about Firefox, and has given the upstart browser one of the most powerful marketing tools on the Internet -- a spot on the Google homepage," commented the respected Ars Technica Web site.

But Microsoft does not plan to let the erosion of its market share continue. Earlier in the week the software giant launched a new trial version of its Internet Explorer browser that, in addition to beefing up its notoriously vulnerable security, has also copied all of Firefox's best features.

Analysts say that the new browser gives Internet Explorer users a reason not to convert to Firefox. "I think IE 7 brings the browser to parity with Firefox in terms of features, and the security's a big improvement over IE 6," said Matt Rosoff, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft. "I think it will be good enough to stop some of IE's market share loss to Firefox."

But despite the upgrades, you are unlikely to see many Firefox fans switching back to Microsoft.

"Yesterday's browser -- tomorrow," is how the influential Web site SiliconValley.com announced the new product.

Other players like ExplorerDestroyer.com


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