Firefox 89: Mozilla Brought Its Open-Source Browser Back from The Ashes
What happened? What went wrong? And how did the Mozilla Foundation step in to revive Firefox, one of the most popular open-source browsers on the market? In today’s article, we’ll explore Firefox 89 and its history to get answers to these questions and more.
Back in the late 90s, Netscape Navigator was one of the most popular browsers on the market. In December 1997, however, AOL announced it would be providing browser software with its dial-up Internet access and purchasing Netscape Communications Corporation. As a result, other browser companies took notice and began to quickly gain popularity. One such company was Microsoft Corporation, who initially started its foray into the field with its MSN Explorer browser in 1995. Microsoft soon gained a huge lead in both share of market and number of users; this led to pressure for Netscape to release new versions of their software more quickly than they were able to do so without selling off their company.
Where Did It Go Wrong?
After the release of Firefox 4, it seemed like the community was already growing tired of the program. One thing that many people found to be a turn-off was how Firefox 4 made you restart the browser after installing an add-on. In some cases, this could interrupt your workflow and cause more inconvenience than it is worth. This came as a surprise to many long time Firefox users who remember when restarting the browser for an extension used to happen once a month or so at most.
Restarting for every new add-on installation became tiring quickly and eventually lead to some users going back to using other browsers such as Chrome, Opera or Safari with many citing that it became harder to find their old favorite extensions in these programs over time. With Firefox 5, there were still plenty of changes which left many users disgruntled. The safe browsing feature by default would always redirect users to Google before they could visit any site which could leave those with privacy concerns up in arms.
New tabs had a preview panel which allowed users to see what page they were about to visit without even opening it which many found invasive and intrusive. Many critics also thought that too much data was being tracked by Mozilla with no clear way of opting out which left them feeling uneasy about their privacy if they continued using the program.
Making A Big Return
Mozilla created a browser back in 1998 to show the world a new way to make and maintain software. Today, Firefox is a top three web browser that has been downloaded more than 200 million times. To honor its 20th anniversary, Mozilla released Firefox 89, with this update having hundreds of refinements and improvements. This was not an easy journey for the team at Mozilla as it had to go through some rough patches before getting back on its feet. For one thing, there were reports that showed that Chrome’s market share was accelerating and if things continued down this path Firefox would only have five percent of the market by 2020. For another thing, back in 2015 Mozilla’s chairwoman stepped down after protests over her appointment reached boiling point.
We can’t blame you for wanting to forget about Firefox. It seemed doomed, with so many big developers abandoning it to focus on their shiny new Chrome apps. But Firefox has been making major strides in recent years, managing to build an audience of devoted users by sticking true to its open-source roots. Today’s release is one of the most substantial updates since the revamped browser hit the scene a year ago and while it still has a way to go before catching up with Google, at least now it’s possible that we could see Firefox running happily alongside Chrome on our PC screens in the near future.
If you’re a long-time fan or considering taking Firefox out for another spin, let us know what you think of today’s update in the comments below. Maybe after enough positive feedback, more developers will be tempted to jump back on board—particularly if Microsoft ever starts letting Edge loose on other platforms. Are any big names missing from your Favorite sites? Hit us up!