Mozilla 1.4 and Netscape 7.1 News and Reviews
Sunday July 6th, 2003
It's almost a week since the double release of Mozilla 1.4 and Netscape 7.1. The new Netscape version came out first and it was reported on by Slashdot, LWN.net and Macworld UK. Mozilla 1.4 followed shortly after, leading to articles at Slashdot (again), Neowin.net, LWN.net (again), GnomeDesktop.org FootNotes and the Temple of the Screaming Penguin. As the two browsers came out on the same day, several sites — including ZDNet News, Techweb, The Mac Observer and OSNews — produced single reports for both releases. Meanwhile, CNET News.com and Ars Technica tied their stories in with Marc Andreessen's recent comments that browser innovation is dead.
Finally, for those who think that Mozilla 1.4 doesn't offer any real improvements, Asa Dotzler has a changelog. Thanks to everyone who sent us links to articles.
I don't think there has been that much innovation.
'Find as you type' (formerly known as type ahead find) and gestures have been around for a long time, just not as part of the browser, and I fear they are still only going to be used by a few geeks (gestures aren't even built in - they're an optional extension). Tabbed browsing is a variation on a theme - in terms of using it as a navigation device, you can do the same with multiple windows (main windows or MDI), and some people have been for years.
Most people still just click links as they read the page, use the back button, and the bookmarks menu. On the other hand, I don't know how much more you can expect - in the first few years of browsers, there weren't that many users, relatively speaking, and more of them were geek types. Once you have hundreds of millions of users familiar with something, trying to get innovations to catch on is a lot harder - it has to be something that's so good that those hundreds of millions of users want to make the effort of learning how to do things again.
And as for the changelog, that doesn't prove innovation, it just proves that some bits of code have been changed in some way. It would be quite possible to make a thousand changes to the code without innovating or improving anything (not that I'm saying there hasn't been improvement - there certainly has, I'm just saying that a bugzilla count of fixes doesn't mean improvement, any more than the 20,000 open bugs means that Mozilla is bad.)