I have been using Mozilla browsers and other software of some years now, I use the the Firefox browser and the Thunderbird e-mail client on a daily basis. It has always felt somehow right. When I first started to use the internet Mosaic was the web browser of choice, this was soon replaced by Netscape (and for the record in those day I was using Pegasus Mail for e-mail). The reason this Netscape took over from Mosaic is simply that it was a better browser. This was at a time when Bill Gates was telling us that the World Wide Web was just a flash in the pan and wasn’t going to be anything of significance.
It took a couple of years for the Redmond Giant to wake up to their mistake, when they did their response was to try and grab control of the internet. One had the feeling that Internet Explorer and Outlook where more or less rammed down our throats. It became the dominate web browser not because it was better, but because this was what the big corporates decided that we should use. If that sounds like paranoia remember this was the time before broadband when most people only had internet access through their workplace. Most business, even now, don’t really understand the internet and tend to stick to “brands” that have heard of even if it is not in their (or their customers) best interests.
Now we are in the broadband era, people have more choice about how they access the web (and the internet in general) so I am thankful that software such as the Firefox still exists. You only have to look at the Mozilla Manifesto which has been published recently, to see the difference in philosophy between Mozilla (and the open source community generally) and that of certain corporate software giants.
I am not going to layout the whole manifesto here but I think that the principles are worth listing here:
- The Internet is an integral part of modern life – a key component in education, communication, collaboration, business, entertainment and society as a whole.
- The Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible.
- The Internet should enrich the lives of individual human beings.
- Individuals’ security on the Internet is fundamental and cannot be treated as optional.
- Individuals must have the ability to shape their own experiences on the Internet.
- The effectiveness of the Internet as a public resource depends upon interoperability (protocols, data formats, content), innovation and decentralized participation worldwide.
- Free and open source software promotes the development of the Internet as a public resource.
- Transparent community-based processes promote participation, accountability, and trust.
- Commercial involvement in the development of the Internet brings many benefits; a balance between commercial goals and public benefit is critical.
- Magnifying the public benefit aspects of the Internet is an important goal, worthy of time, attention and commitment.
So if you haven’t tried Firefox yet, it is fast, it is safe, it is flexible and it is free, why not try it today, what have you got to loose?