The Future: The Mozilla Foundation and the End of Netscape
Thursday July 17th, 2003
There's a lot of confusion surrounding Tuesday's creation of the Mozilla Foundation and the disbanding of the Netscape browser development team.
While a major loss, the end of Netscape does not mean the end of Mozilla. There is no way that AOL can revoke the Netscape and Mozilla Public Licenses and make the code proprietary. The Mozilla code will continue to be available to all. AOL has also agreed to transfer the Mozilla trademark and other intellectual property (much of it dating back to when Mozilla was Netscape's mascot) to the new Mozilla Foundation. Netscape-owned hardware (such as the mozilla.org servers) will also be transferred to the new organisation. AOL will continue to employ some Netscape staffers, such as Asa Dotzler, for a couple of months to help with the transition.
The Mozilla Foundation marks the first time that the Mozilla project actually has a legal existence (mozilla.org was always just a more informal group). This new organisation, which is hoping to gain non-profit status under California law, will continue mozilla.org's work of guiding development. Teams such as mozilla.org staff, drivers, reviewers and module owners will continue to work as before. In addition, there will be a new Board of Directors, made up of Mitchell Baker, Brendan Eich, Christopher Blizzard and some new faces, including Open Source Applications Foundation head Mitch Kapor. The Mozilla Foundation will be funded by donations from individuals and companies, such as Sun Microsystems and Red Hat. AOL will provide $2,000,000 of funding over the next two years.
Up until this point, mozilla.org has produced builds of Mozilla for development and testing purposes only, with end-users encouraged to download distributions from vendors such as Netscape. However, the new Mozilla Foundation plans to target end-users directly. The beginnings of this strategy can be seen with the redesign of the mozilla.org front page.
This kind of answers like "the installer is available at http:\\xxx is absolutely not acceptable for consumer products, because you can't expect a no tech user (to quit the moms and pops worn out example), and they are the big majority (we must keep this in focus), to have the time, the techy friend or whatever it takes to go to a different website to get it. Mozilla stuff must be at mozilla.org (or .com as someone correctly suggested).
Besides, I don't see how a browser that will refer you to the Netscape site the first time it encounters a Flash or Shockwave animation, or requires to reinstall RealPlayer to handle these ubiquous files, can be considered a final product or ready for prime time. End users are not going to take this pain, not even for the tab browsing and the popup blocking, I can bet on this because I've seen it.
As for the different preferences interfaces I suggest. Definitely it's not the main reason for Seamonkey going bloated, but the fact that it had to support Composer, Mail, Chatzilla and everything else at a higher (interface) level. Preferences is not about having more or less features but be in control of those. There are definitely basic preferences and advanced ones, and software like GetRight have found a way to handle it, although not perfectly, but is a nice approach to commit to simplicity without compromising control.
To the one who suggested speedbit, I can only say I have no problem with GetRight. Reversely I dislike having to reinstall the GetRight plugin for Mozilla each tme I reinstall Mozilla.
About:config is good. In the meantime just adding a expandable tree interface and a brief description of each preference would be excelent.
I won't bet on having the ActiveX support included in Mozilla by default. I think some statistical research on the use of ActiveX with no plugin or Java alternative, should be done to justify.
Also it would be great to bundle the Mozilla COM control, so apps like Musicmatch, Winamp and Kazaa could use it at will.
As for the user agent impersonation, the point is just that: how to do it without surrendering precious statistics.
As for extensions, they are fundamental for the corporate environment as they offer big flexibility, but for consumer people it just doesn't matter any extension that doesn't come with the installer.
Non tech people means people don't care about technology, they only see tools.