At 6pm today, the UK gets its shot at downloading the full version of Firefox 3, the latest version of Mozilla’s fast-growing web browser.
Firefox is a technically superior product that is freely distributed and enjoys better features than its main rival, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Yet, of the five million users expected to download the program today, and of the roughly 16 per cent of browser users around the world that use Firefox, the available data indicates that relatively few will be working at large firms that have rolled it out across corporate networks. So why are CIOs at blue chip organisations running scared of Firefox?
In part, one assumes, it is because this is an open-source development. For some enterprise organisations the term retains suggestions of hippies sitting around threatening capitalism with plans to ban apple pie and motherhood when they finally overthrow their oppressors. The truth is somewhat different as Mozilla is a thriving commercial concern, having made nigh on $67 million in revenues for fiscal 2006, most of this made up of payments from Google for searches made from the browser.
Second, it’s probably a fair assumption to think that many organisations are so tied into Microsoft that they fear change and that, as far as is practicable, a one-stop shop in the Redmond Mall is the safe way to get your software.
Third, there is a widespread misapprehension that Firefox will “break” - or be broken by - many websites.
These reasons all have one thing in common – they’re not very convincing. The fact is that, even for a classic early/late majority adopter like me, Firefox is a great product that can be downloaded in minutes and change the way you work through innovative features that are well executed. Of course, you can keep IE if you prefer it for some uses and Firefox even deletes nicely. Spend a few minutes downloading Firefox 3 when the rush has died down - I think you’ll find it’s worthwhile.