Browser Wars, Part II?

But now, in a flashback, the remnants of Netscape--now the open-source Mozilla Foundation--have come back with Firefox, and the buzz is building for alternative browsers now that IE has been beset with security problems.

In the past three months alone, WebSideStory found that IE lost 1.8 percent market share, to settle at 93.7 percent, while Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox was up 1.7 percent, to hit 5.2 percent. It didn't help that the U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team (part of the government's Department of Homeland Security) recommended that users stay away from IE due to security issues.

When Mozilla recently released the Firefox Preview Release--the full version is due in the fourth quarter--they easily hit their goal of 1 million downloads within five days (actually, more than 1 million copies in a little over four days). Meanwhile, the Opera browser continues to make inroads in mobile computing, with a new version planned for devices running Microsoft's mobile operating systems. And Apple recently kept pace by releasing a patch to help fix security problems with its Safari browser.

So Firefox has the buzz, but should you make the switch? The main costs connected with changing browsers are the time and support issues. However, if the people in your enterprise are itching to get away from IE and put security issues behind them, it might make sense. Be sure to test compatibility issues, known problems, and plug-in capabilities before making any large-scale changeovers.

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Of course, even the alternative browsers are vulnerable to hack attacks and security holes. A recent vulnerability was found in an open-source image-file format, .png, that affected browsers running on Linux, Windows and the Mac. A good sign for Firefox supporters, though, was that Mozilla issued a patch before Microsoft or Apple did. That type of quick reaction is what it will take for an upstart to keep the pressure on Microsoft.

*This story courtesy of