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Browser Wars: Hey Microsoft, Stop Being Jealous of Firefox and Check the Math

Microsoft is obviously chock-full of nice sweet people, slaving away to make its software products all groovy...but not Amy Barzdukas. She's just been saying some very snarky things about Firefox's Billion Downloads claim.

Firefox downloads

Amy, nasty lady that she is, isn't an unbiased commenter in this matter—she's actually in charge of Internet Explorer...Firefox's rival. Speaking about the recent claim from Mozilla that its browser has been downloaded over a billion times, Amy reportedly said "As with any marketing statement, I'd encourage people to be somewhat skeptical about large number claims." In particular, she notes Mozilla's claim is based on "interesting math," and wondered "how many Internet connected users are there? 1.1 billion, 1.5 billion, something in that area." Amy's obviously trying to say it's all a bit dodgy, and she finds it hard to believe Mozilla's software has leaped off its servers, down the line to over a billion PCs.

It's a classic. Because despite her snarkiness, Mozilla's been pretty clear about the figure—the billion download figure is for all the different versions of Firefox that have popped up over the years. Updates count, and if people have a number of machines, each of those counts too. Currently the number of people on the planet who are connected to the 'Net is around 1.6 billion. Assuming Firefox's 22.5% share of the browser market is a good average, that means it's currently on over 350 million machines—one third, roughly, of Mozilla's claimed billion downloads. Is it so hard to believe that the other 550 million copies have been downloaded in the four years since it's November 2004 launch? Nope—it's completely possible.

So what's the deal with Amy? It's pretty obvious—Firefox is continuing to do well. Many developers attest that Internet Explorer, despite being the industry-leader, absolutely sucks. And Amy was also tasked with telling the world that MS will continue support for IE6 until 2014. That's an eight year-old browser, and many claim it's holding back Web development by requiring Web-programmers to build in hacks and tricks to support IE6's old-fashioned code and in-built flaws and limitations. It should, in fact, just go away—not be supported for another five years. That's a hugely embarrassing thing for MS to do, which Amy probably knows. But then, asked why so many people haven't upgraded IE6 to newer versions she suggested "upgrading sounds like a hassle."

So your upgrade process is a pain, hey Microsoft? In fact, famously a hassle because people have been dissuaded from swapping to newer IE versions for eight years. Hmmm. I begin to see why Firefox is slowly stealing marketshare in the Browser Wars.

[via TheGuardian]