Firefox has been nipping at Microsoft Internet Explorer's heels since 2004, and today the browser is passing a milestone: One billion copies will have been downloaded. That's in total, across all the versions made.
Now, Mozilla isn't pretending that one copy has gone to every seventh person across the globe--the figure represents events like a single user downloading a copy for multiple machines, and it counts visits to the software's homepage to grab an update in the figure too. But, as milestones go, it's a biggie. And it represents a significant success in the Browser Wars, where Firefox's enemy is Microsoft's IE.
It's a pretty deadly enemy too--let's not forget that MS has been found guilty of abusing its monopoly powers and forcing IE onto users. Just this week the folks at Redmond revealed their strategy in reaction to the EU lawmaker's condemnations: In the EU, Windows users will get a specific Browser Ballot presented to them, enabling them to choose between from a whole armload of alternative browsers instead of IE. And, interestingly enough, MS really does seem to be trying to behave nicely--it's bringing the ballot to XP and Vista users as well as Windows 7 owners.
Still, Firefox has a growing fan base, and recently took an increased share of the browser market around the world. It's now how 31% of Web pages are served to the public, versus 60% via IE. Google's Chrome, soon to be the basis of a whole OS, has less than a 5% share, as does Apple's Safari--echoing the smaller share of the PC market owned by Apple. But here's a strange question: Why on Earth is Firefox's share in Europe a strong 40% against Microsoft's 47%? Do those crazy Euro guys prefer backing the underdog, or is there a general anti-Microsoft vibe over there, reflecting the stern decisions of the European courts? Maybe Europe is just more tech-savvy, and its population also knows what many a developer has been trumpeting for ages: Internet Explorer is the worst browser ever.
Still, for geeky kicks you can check out the count-up to the billionth download of your flaming vulpine friend here.