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BuzzCut: Mozilla Puts Stop to Mozilla

Product Roll Call

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The Mozilla group's road map contrasts sharply with that of Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Microsoft continues to integrate its browser deeper into other applications, such as Outlook, and the Windows operating system. Microsoft has wisely stayed away from creating a complete application suite like Mozilla's, preferring to integrate its applications at the OS level.

The revised Mozilla plan is a good one, as evidenced by the growing popularity of Firefox. It holds about 6 percent of the U.S. browser market, up from 3 percent last November, according to WebSideStory, a Web analytics provider. True, Firefox has benefited from user dissatisfaction with the frequently hacked IE, but it's unlikely that Mozilla's integrated suite would have gained as much ground under the same circumstances because of its slower performance. In fact, though IE's security problems were made public before Firefox's release, neither the Netscape browser nor Mozilla had gained much market share, even though both browsers are also free.

Mozilla's integrated suite has had some technical problems as well. The complexity of the underlying code was revealed in early, bug-laden releases, and the suite has shown little flexibility to integrate with common non-Mozilla applications, such as e-mail, which makes it just as unattractive as IE.

Long term, halting development on the Mozilla suite will benefit both users and the Mozilla foundation. By focusing on single apps, the group will be able to ensure quality releases of Firefox and Thunderbird. And those products will have a better chance to address users' desires for integration--as well as extensibility and performance.