eWeek Predicts Mozilla will Challenge Internet Explorer

Monday July 28th, 2003

In his latest opinion piece for eWeek, Jim Rapoza tackles a favourite topic of tech columnists recently: are the Browser Wars coming back? Rapoza thinks that they are and says Microsoft's recent decision to only provide enhancements to Internet Explorer via Windows upgrades could leave an opening for alternative browsers. Mozilla, Rapoza argues, is well-placed to take advantage of this opportunity with its up-to-date and innovative technology.

#27 Yes, but ...

by mpthomas

Tuesday July 29th, 2003 4:37 PM

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IMO johann is quite correct that to get anywhere without blanket distribution, Mozilla needs something to make it a killer app for normal people -- in the same way that Navigator 3.0, Napster, the Flash plug-in, and (to a lesser extent) RealPlayer were. In other words, you need to do something important which no other program is doing nearly as well. (And if you think tabbed browsing and pop-up blocking are important for normal people, you really need to get out more. <…sid=71296&cid=6457174> ) Then when other software catches up, you need to innovate again. And again.

However, you just need to take a good hard look at the awfulness of Mozilla's UI, as opposed to the UI of Firebird and (I assume) Thunderbird, to realize that combining a browser, a mailer, a Web page editor, etc etc etc into a single program, running on top of an operating environment like Windows or Mac OS, is more harmful than helpful. If you try to simplify it, you end up with something like AOL or MSN -- great for beginners, but annoyingly restrictive for the rest of us.

So the sort of task-based UI johann is talking about could work, I think, but only if it was built in to the operating environment, like MSIE and Konqueror are, but like Mozilla and Safari and Epiphany are not. That means those most likely to do it are Microsoft; Apple might, but they've dug pretty deeply into their application-centric hole now, and are unlikely to get out in the next decade or so. If Mozilla is to be a part of such an environment, it will be because someone at Red Hat or Ximian or SuSE has decided to do it.