Firefox breaks 50 million download barrier

The Mozilla foundation is claiming that Firefox, the open source browser, has passed the 50 million download mark since version 1.0 was released in November of last year

According to the Mozilla foundation, this number is purely downloads and doesn’t include upgrades to the recently released version 1.03.

The momentum behind Firefox has been building up for over a year. Originally named Firebird, the product went through several releases before its final launch in November 2004.

The initial momentum behind the adoption of the browser was the repeated security alerts surrounding Internet Explorer last year. Microsoft may have thought that the introduction of XP Service Pack 2 would have stemmed the migration to Firefox, but if anything the number of downloads seems to have increased each month. This despite the fact that Firefox has encountered some security problems of its own as its popularity has grown.

Janco Associates’ recent 2005 Browser Market Share Study found that Firefox has doubled its market share between January and April of this year from 4.23 per cent of the market to 10.28 per cent. Meanwhile Internet Explorer’s market share has been steadily dropping over the past year. According to Janco, IE now stands at 83.07 per cent. Compare this with the recent analysis by – Internet Explorer browser usage dips again – which put IE’s share at 86.63 per cent, down from 87.28 per cent in February.

The situation is even more favourable to Firefox in Europe. According to a recent study by XiTi, Firefox use across Europe is now 13.31 per cent. According to the study, the largest penetration of Firefox is in Finland where it has a staggering 30 per cent market share. The next highest penetration is Germany with just under 23 per cent followed by Hungary and the Czech Republic. The UK is well down the list at 11th position with a lower-than-average 12.12 per cent.

Microsoft professes to be relaxed about Firefox by pointing out that 80 something per cent is still a pretty overwhelming market share. However, the open source browser is clearly causing some unease.

Perhaps the best compliment made about the browser came from Bill Gates earlier this year when he announced the early release of Internet Explorer 7.0. Previously a new version of IE was only expected with the release of the new ‘Longhorn’ version of Windows, which is due before the end of next year.

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