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Microsoft Not Worried about FireFox

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the taking-the-back-seat dept.

Internet Explorer 674

didde writes "It seems like our friends in Redmond are quite happy about IE. According to this article, they won't be updating it until Longhorn. My favorite quote would be [We have a very, very innovative set of capabilities that we're putting in the next version. And in the meantime it's an extensible platform, and there will be a set of extensions that Microsoft does as well as others.] Oh boy, are they actually working side by side with the virusmakers and phishers?" That just gives the MozBoys a year head start.

cancel ×

674 comments

We're heard this line before (5, Insightful)

cybermint (255744) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222623)

Microsoft said the same thing about Linux a while back. It took a while, but they finally admitted that it was infact, a big theat.

Re:We're heard this line before (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11222631)

OMFG LINuX IS TEH GAY!!!1!!!1!!

A/S/L????

Re:We're heard this line before (4, Insightful)

DominoTree (803219) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222645)

We've also heard them say that FireFox has no features to compete with IE, then admit to never trying FireFox.

Re:We're heard this line before (0, Redundant)

Zonnald (182951) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222736)

An individual admitted that He never tried FireFox.
Big Difference.

Re:We're heard this line before (1)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222683)

They said it about the Internet/WWW too.

Re:We're heard this line before (2, Insightful)

airjrdn (681898) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222784)

Theat to whom? MS in the server market? It already was to some extent. Threat to the desktop market? Not for a LONG time if ever.

Re:We're heard this line before (2, Interesting)

thammoud (193905) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222792)

It is not a fair comparison. It's a lot easier to change a web browser than Switch to a new OS. People like word and excel and the great selection of windows apps and will not easily dump these applications for their Linux equivalent.

As far as Linux is concerned, it is doing very well on the server but is pretty insignificant on the desktop and will probably remain so for the furseeable future.

Worry Depends on Malware, Viruses from China (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11222832)

The Chinese are targetting Microsoft Internet Explorer [phrusa.org] . The Chinese generate most of the spam, viruses, and malware attacking MS Windows and MS IE. If 2005 brings an upsurge in spam, viruses, and malware from China, then the marketshare of FireFox will skyrocket.

If I were a gambling person, I'd bet that FireFox will grow to 25% of the market by 2005 December. The reason is that folks, like those in China, with the kind of malignant, destructive thinking that produces viruses and malware really enjoy the havoc that they are doing. These folks will only do more and more in a way that is similar to a drug addict.

kj (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11222627)

1juhihu uhouihjoij iuhuhj

If they have to say they aren't worried... (5, Insightful)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222628)

they are probably worried.

Having an IE monopoly is a lynchpin in their designs for server-side control. Unless I'm completely off-base.

Re:If they have to say they aren't worried... (1)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222677)

More importantly... what's with the [ and ] being used to designate a quote? That really sucks.

Re:If they have to say they aren't worried... (2, Interesting)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222734)

Their "designs for server-side control" won't mean squat unless they can dislodge Apache as the market leader, which I don't see happening anytime soon.

Re:If they have to say they aren't worried... (5, Insightful)

nizo (81281) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222737)

Thankfully apache kicked their butt here, or else you wouldn't even be able to use any other browser except IE to surf the web. I mean, imagine if microsoft controlled as high a percentage of the web servers as they do browsers.

Re:If they have to say they aren't worried... (2, Insightful)

didde (685567) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222745)


What do you mean by "serverside control"? If you're refering to ASP.NET and its postbacks then I think you might be wrong. It's basically just a "state-of-view" represented by hidden form fields (usually) which are submitted by links triggering JavaScripts instead of plain old href's pointing to another page

These scripts may cause problems with clients who have disabled JavaScript completely, but the calls themselves are (again, usually) simple...
document.forms['something'].submit();
...and so on.

Even if they were to rely on code suitable only for IE and FireFox were to take over the world I'm sure MS could publish some sort of fix for IIS on Windows Update - because we all know everybody uses it frequently, right? Ehh, yes. I'm sure. Almost positive...

Re:If they have to say they aren't worried... (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222779)

I'm thinking of automatic updates and other hooks which many companies become dependant on which work with Active X/IE. But then again, as I said, I'm not exactly sure why Microsoft wanted to control the browser market.

But it had to be for some reason, right? If they don't care any more, the reason is now overcome by events. If they do care, it has to be for some reason.

Re:If they have to say they aren't worried... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11222767)

Sorry, but why does Microsoft care about Internet Explorer in the first place? The only way I see it makes them money is through their MSN service.

A year?! (5, Funny)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222633)

Just a year's head start? You sure are optimistic about the Longhorn release schedule, aren't you? :)

Re:A year?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11222700)

A Microsoft year. The calendar will freeze for ten months after 364 days.

Re:A year?! (1)

AthanK (844650) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222743)

No kidding. Try two years. They've had to trim some features off of Longhorn just to get it out this decade.

Re:A year?! (1)

xyzzy (10685) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222804)

No kidding. By some reckoning, it's taken them what, 3-5 years to get where they are? When was the Mozilla release party? Ah yes, June 2002. And it was open-sourced in *1999*.

Working with phishers? (0, Redundant)

tyleroar (614054) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222634)

Oh boy, are they actually working side by side with the virusmakers and phishers?
Now what would make him think that? Why would anyone assume that Microsoft was working with phishers or virusmakers?

Re:Working with phishers? (1, Funny)

rwven (663186) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222672)

It's called sarcasm there buddy. ;)

Re:Working with phishers? (5, Funny)

mcleodnine (141832) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222697)

Probably for the same reason people put those "Free iPod" links in their sigs - gullibility and no sense of humor.

Re:Working with phishers? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11222704)

Why did Microsoft ever allow Browser Helper Objects, or allow third parties to install items on the user's machine by default. Ever since these changes went into Internet Explorer, we've been plagued with spyware, trojans, etc... all taking advantage of these loopholes in the browser.

Microsoft could close these loopholes back up, so why aren't they? Most likely they are getting quite a bit of money (bribes) from the spyware companies, and feel no need to take away this revenue stream. Sounds pretty suspicious to me.

Re:Working with phishers? (1)

Zonnald (182951) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222761)

Or Maybe they are getting a lot of money form Third party Browser Helper Object companies?

Re:Working with phishers? (2, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222708)

"Now what would make him think that? Why would anyone assume that Microsoft was working with phishers or virusmakers?"

Because it's a cheap way to get attention on Slashdot. With all the MS hatred around here it'll be assumed as fact that they are doing that. "Well, I wouldn't put it past them even though it wouldn't make good business sense to give everybody a strong reason to use another browser!"

Slashdot Editors really should enforce a little more professionalism. It's hard to take anything this site says about MS seriously.

Re:Working with phishers? (0, Troll)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222714)

Yep. That was rather pathetic.

I wonder if /. accepts Microsoft related submissions these days only if they contain a witty soundbite that's in line with the OSS groupthink.

Worse=better (5, Insightful)

j_heisenberg (464756) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222636)

As could be read on Joel on Software [joelonsoftware.com] , Webapps are becoming major competition to MS. That's why a better browser is the last thing MS wants. Worse browser = better browser.

Once upon a time (1)

rugwuk (525954) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222640)

Isn't this also the company whose CTO said that email wasn't a big deal?

Extensible? How about extensions (1)

DoorFrame (22108) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222641)

I'm not going to even consider going back to IE unless they're able to include extensions just as useful and as open as Mozilla has. Firefox with Adblock, and all the other handy add-ons has changed the way I browse. I don't want to go back.

Re:Extensible? How about extensions (1)

ArticleI (842868) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222785)

This is not to mention tabbed browsing, while not an extension, arguably one of the best tools for reading /. ever. You can keep the main page, the article and the page it links to open in one window.

Re:Extensible? How about extensions (1)

ryanjensen (741218) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222829)

Would you consider Maxthon [maxthon.com] then? It has tabs, plugins, themes, ad blocking, etc. It's based on IE, so more sites should work with it (some sites don't even load for me in Firefox).

I've never used Maxthon, but I might give it a try.

browser security check (5, Informative)

exhilaration (587191) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222642)

If you're still using an older (more than 6 months since you've patched) web browser, I suggest you check out this browser security check [scanit.be] , which will test it for exploits.

At your own risk, of course. Firefox 1.0PR passed with flying colors.

Re:browser security check (3, Informative)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222715)

No it didnt, I just tried.

Firefox 1.0 has 1 high risk vulnerability.


High Risk Vulnerabilities
Sun Java Plugin Arbitrary Package Access Vulnerability (idef20041123)
Description

Java Plugin allows web browsers to run Java applets. Java plugin may be used by Internet Explorer, Mozilla (and Mozilla-base browsers, such as Firefox), Opera and other browsers.

When a browser opens a web page that contains a Java applet the browser automatically downloads the applet and runs it locally. To protect the user from malicious applets all the applets run in so called "sandbox". The sandbox restricts what an applet can do. For example, the sandbox will not allow an applet to open local files or start programs.

This bug in Sun Java Plugin allows a web site to bypass the sandbox and execute Java code that the sandbox will normally not allow and possibly gain control over the client computer.
Technical Details

Sun Java Virtual Machine contains sun.* packages that are only supposed to be used internally, by the virtual machine itself. Some private classes allow direct access to memory or modifying private fields of Java objects. If an applet attempts to load one of those packages a security exception is thrown. If an applet could load those classes it could turn off Java Security Manager and break out of Java sandbox.

JavaScript can access properties and methods of Java applets embedded on the page. It is possible to load a private package from JavaScript as shown in the code below:

var c=document.applets[0].getClass().forName('sun.text .Utility');
alert('got Class object: '+c)

Java Reflection API allows objects to examine their own structure (for example, find out the class of the object or the available methods). Reflection API defines getClass() function that returns the object's class. forName method of Class object loads the named class. The same operation done from the Java applet instead of JavaScript would fail.
Recommendations

Upgrade Java Environment to version 1.4.2_06 or later. It can be downloaded from http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.4.2/download.html


Sure, it's a Java vulnerability, but a vulnerability nonetheless.

Why hasnt FireFox automatically updated Java for me?

At the end of the day, every time one of you sticks FireFox on some clueless' machine, and tell them they're "safe", you're lying (or just ignorant).

Re:browser security check (1)

MrChester (844882) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222799)

i didn't recieve any errors either... its should be java responsibility to auto-update their software, not mozillas

Opera 7 passed. (3, Informative)

eddy (18759) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222776)

Opera 7.54u1 build 3918 passed.

The Browser Security Test is finished. Please find the results below:
High Risk Vulnerabilities 0
Medium Risk Vulnerabilities 0
Low Risk Vulnerabilities 0

Re:browser security check (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11222797)

Firefox 1.0 on MacOS X passed without any reported risks. (Although Firefox on Windows needed a Java update.)

Too bad that Safari crashes immediately when attempting to run the tests. That can't be a good sign.

Re:browser security check (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11222821)

i tried the test with firefox 1.0, no security valnerablilties
but i tried it with my SP1 IE, and only had 1 'low risk valnerablility', and no other ones, what up with that?

New Exploit found (2, Interesting)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222643)

This is an article that slashdot rejected from me, but still fairly pertinent.

Silicon.com [silicon.com] reports that there's a new Trojan named Phel that takes advantage of the Help (get it?) controls in internet explorer. Though the expoit's been known about since October, Microsoft is still "testing" the patch, and isn't expected to release it anytime soon.

lack of foresight? (3, Insightful)

LiquidMind (150126) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222646)

"Now that IE is used on most of the world's computers, racing to match the features of competitors is less important than providing a stable, reliable product, Hachamovitch said."

a company doesn't survive on market share alone, it survives because it stays competitive.

A company won't go far with an attitude that reflects the quote above.

Great! (0, Flamebait)

Eeknay (766740) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222649)

I'm so glad the articles here at Slashdot are unbiased and fai- Oh. Oh wait.

"That just gives the MozBoys a year head start." (1)

temojen (678985) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222651)

But what will they do with it? Look how long SVG's been in CVS, but not in the official release.

Sayt What (1)

joepress (224366) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222652)

"racing to match the features of competitors is less important than providing a stable, reliable product"
So that makes racing to match features as job 22?

extensions (1)

uf22 (521280) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222653)

Is IE really an extendable platform? It doesn't exactly have a friendly firefox-like plugin architecture. I don't think anyone in their right mind would want yet another "toolbar" to come out. Clearly that market is saturated, despite what Netcraft may think. Some have taken to extending the browser with its built-in, fundamental functionality. You can achieve some interesting results [breasy.com] . Other than this type of site, I don't see how IE will continue to grow without further work from MS themselves.

Re:extensions (5, Funny)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222726)

"Is IE really an extendable platform?"

Sure, but instead of "extensions" we call them "exploits".

Re:extensions (2, Funny)

hsmith (818216) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222830)

of course it is a extendable platform, don't you have the mysearchbar and lycos search bar on your machine! these ads for viagra also help me shop!

Why (1)

tarquin_fim_bim (649994) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222657)

can't I get excited about Longhorn?

Who cares anymore damnit?!?!?!?! (-1, Troll)

NerdBuster (831349) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222661)

Its just a stupid browser....nothing more, nothing less. I use both and realized something.....they're just browsers! Oh and one more thing...taking out an ad in the newspaper for Firefox.....my god man.....NERDS!!!!!!!!! They should have used that money to place an ad in the personals for all the nerds that contributed money!

Re:Who cares anymore damnit?!?!?!?! (1)

bfizzle (836992) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222684)

Atleast the NYTime ad we go a little bit of satisfaction. The personal ad would have gotten no where.

Re:Who cares anymore damnit?!?!?!?! (1)

NerdBuster (831349) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222735)

Geee imagine that, I've been labeled a troll because I spoke out against all this stupidity. Stupid nerds.

Re:Who cares anymore damnit?!?!?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11222803)

Is that your troll schtick? Calling out people for being nerds? On SLASHDOT? Did you read the little slogan under the logo? You are the weakest troll. Goodbye.

Microsoft not worried... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11222664)

"After all, we here at Microsoft simply want computer users to have the best experience possible; if Firefox is delivering that, then we are all for it."

Er, wait, wrong universe.

Remember, they're not bugs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11222674)

...they're a "very, very innovative set of features."

What I see... (1)

ZSpade (812879) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222675)

We have a very, very innovative set of capabilities that we're putting in the next version.

Yay, yet more vulnerable features to be exploited by viruses, hijackers, and phishers. Seriously though,when is microsoft going to realize that pretending they have no competition in order to "belittle" their competition doesn't really do anything but make them look like, well Microsoft.

Re:What I see... (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222727)

It's a basic marketing technique that should be practiced by all marketing firms. Acknowledging your competitors gives them undue credibility. Watch any paper towel commercial, they will never give the name of their competitor, because that would imply their competitor is a worthy adversary. Instead all advertising compares it to "leading brand" or some other ambiguous label.

Trying to put a positive spin (1)

m_dob (639585) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222678)

on a very bad situation for microsoft - Firefox is a far superior product in so many ways, and it challenges MS's plans of a browser monopoly.

This is fantastic news for FF... it means no aggressive Microsoft marketing for a good two years.

I wait eagerly for the "very innovative set of capabilities"...

What would they Add? (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222679)

The IE platform is about as effective as it can be. Security fixes are not considered a new version, and the feature set is as complete as I would want at the core level. Linux may be fixed within a day, but updates are difficult and obtuse to aquire, be happy our friends at microsoft are securing a stable project instead of stabilizing a secure product.

Re:What would they Add? (1)

The Journalist (844669) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222738)

"Internet Explorer" and "secure" in the same sentence without a negative modifier? Anyone else see a problem with this?

Re:What would they Add? (2, Informative)

electrichamster (703053) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222751)

Difficult to aquire you say?

Choose your poison:
apt-get update
up2date
emerge sync && emerge -u world

(apologies to any I missed)

Why should they worry? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11222680)

What does MS really stand to lose if Firefox gains something like 50% of the browser share? MS isn't making any money off IE, are they? I realize that back in the mid 90's there was a big concern that the Netscape browser could somehow be used to usurp the Windows monopoly, but honestly, is anybody still thinking that an entire OS can be replaced by a web browser?

Firefox is not a threat... (1)

LegoEvan (772742) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222685)

because "nobody" cares about how stable it is, how useful tabbed browsing is, what tech people say, how much sexier the icon is than that stupid e, the rave reviews it gets, the fact that it's OSS, feels faster than IE (at least on my Mac), and is safer for the average joe user.

I could totally see how an ostrich with its head buried in the sand* would consider it no threat.


*Yes, I am aware that there is no documented case of an ostrich burying its head in the sand.

Re:Firefox is not a threat... (2, Funny)

bfizzle (836992) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222728)

With just a shovel that can be fixed. The hard part is getting the head to stay log enough to bury it.

Re:Firefox is not a threat... (1)

electrichamster (703053) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222773)

Bahahah, that was absolutely the last thing I expected your comment to say after reading the parent. Nice :)

Re:Firefox is not a threat... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11222787)

Kill the body and the head will die.

Article text in case of slashdotting (1)

Karma Troll (801155) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222686)

Web browser options expand

By Brier Dudley

Seattle Times technology reporter


For those who remember the browser wars, Microsoft seems to be missing in action from the latest battle.

In recent months, upstart browsers such as Firefox and Opera have lured more than 10 million users away from Microsoft's Internet Explorer, largely because of concerns about IE's security problems.

Microsoft is busy building and testing a faster, more secure version internally, but executives say it won't be released for at least another year, until the next version of Windows is done in 2006.

They say customers can think about their breathing while they upgrade IE in the meantime with security patches and add-on features available from Microsoft and other companies that "extend" the software.

"We're not changing our strategy," said Jim Allchin, head of the Windows platform division. "We have a very, very innovative set of capabilities that we're putting in the next version. And in the meantime it's an extensible platform, and there will be a set of extensions that Microsoft does as well as others."

One computer-security expert said that by waiting to release the next version of IE, Microsoft is giving a head start to makers of malicious software.

"If they built in additional security measures, then they should get it out as fast as possible," said Richard Stiennon, head of threat research at Webroot Software, a Boulder, Colo., company that makes anti-spyware products. "The people who are making money off of spyware are out getting richer every day and [becoming] more and more threatening opponents. Two years from now they'll have significant resources, so the faster that Microsoft can curtail their success the better."

The delay is also allowing newcomers such as Firefox to claim the state of the art in browser technology. Firefox, a descendant of Netscape Navigator, was released last month with the support of volunteer programmers and Microsoft competitors such as America Online, Sun Microsystems and IBM.

Separately, AOL has started testing two new browsers, including a new version of Netscape, which it acquired in 1999.

"Users have clearly indicated, by the growing shift toward alternative browsers, that they want a choice," said Netscape spokesman Andrew Weinstein.

Tamer approach

It's hard to believe this is happening to the same Microsoft that just seven years ago was rushing out new versions of Internet Explorer to compete with every Netscape advance, and bullying computer makers that put Netscape's browser on their systems.

That ferocious approach led to court decisions that Microsoft broke antitrust law and cost the company more than $3 billion in settlements with Netscape and others.

But legal concerns have little to do with the company's more moderate approach to browser development, according to the manager in charge of IE.

A bigger factor is Microsoft's responsibilities as the dominant provider of browsing software, said Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of Internet Explorer.

Now that IE is used on most of the world's computers, racing to match the features of competitors is less important than providing a stable, reliable product, Hachamovitch said.

Microsoft is especially sensitive to the concerns of big companies and software developers that build products based on IE. They want Microsoft to proceed cautiously and to continue making subtle improvements to its current browser, he said.

Hachamovitch said he has to balance those concerns with the requests of customers who want new features such as the "tabbed" Web page displays offered by Opera and Firefox.

"You go through and talk to all these people and ask them what they want out of a browser and there are a lot of conflicting requests around: 'Hey, give me tabs right now' versus 'I want stability, I want a platform that won't break, I want to make sure I have extensability, I want to make sure have manageability,' " he said.

"There's layer after layer of expectation because of the role that software has today," he said. "That wasn't there five years ago, much less 10 or 15 years ago."

Losing market share

Meanwhile, Microsoft has started losing browser market share for the first time in four years. IE's share in the U.S. has dropped from 96 percent in early 2003 to 92 percent as of Dec. 3, according to WebSideStory, a San Diego research company that noticed the downward trend about six months ago.

Analyst Geoff Johnston attributed the shift to simultaneous publicity about Firefox and IE's vulnerabilities. "Not only has this thing not died down, it's gaining some steam," Johnston said. "What [appeared] to be an anomaly six or seven months ago has turned into a full-fledged trend -- Firefox has really picked up a lot of fans."

IE's vulnerabilities were severe enough that in June the federal Internet-security monitoring agency suggested that switching browsers was one way to reduce the risk of attack.

The advisory was issued because there was a hole in IE, for which Microsoft has since issued a patch, said Marty Lindner, a team leader at the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team at Carnegie Mellon University.

Lindner would not recommend a particular browser or say what he's using personally. "Our role is to point out what the technical risks are in a particular product," he said.

With IE, Lindner said, "there are known vulnerabilities that there are patches for. If people haven't applied the patches they are at risk."

He said the biggest computer-security vulnerability is the person using the computer, so people should exercise caution and make sure their systems are patched and kept up to date.

"I would argue strongly that you can talk about alternative browsers all you want for whatever reason, but it's not going to minimize the ability of the bad guy to still own your machine," he said.

Hachamovitch said he gets asked often -- on airplanes, at dinner parties -- whether people can feel secure using IE. His advice is to use the browser with Windows XP and with XP's Windows Update service turned on and the latest update kit -- Service Pack 2, or SP2 -- installed.

"Whatever software anyone writes at any time, there are malicious people out there. They will target and they will find things to do," he said. "There's a really long discussion we can have around how do you judge trust, how do you judge vulnerability, how do you judge exploitability, how do I judge my safety, what are safe browsing habits?" he said. "Candidly, what do I say to them? I think XP SP2 is still the best browser overall when you look at the full set of criteria for choosing a browser."

Competition that's free

While IE is distributed for PCs only with the Windows operating system, a handful of serious competitors is distributed free on the Web.

One leading contender, particularly in Europe, is Opera, a browser first developed by researchers at Norway's telephone company. A spinoff company formed to produce the browser went public in March, despite the challenge of competing with Microsoft.

"When David was fighting Goliath, he had to be more clever, faster and see opportunities. That's us," Opera public-relations specialist Eskil Sivertsen said via e-mail.

AOL provides a browser based on IE, and it has continued updating the Netscape browser. It's now preparing to release a new version that uses both Netscape and IE technology. Microsoft gave AOL the rights to use IE as part of a $750 million antitrust settlement last year.

AOL is also the largest supporter of Mozilla, a nonprofit group that manages and shares Netscape's browser technology. It released Firefox last month.

AOL provided $2 million to launch Mozilla. About $300,000 more came from open-source software advocate Mitch Kapor.

Former Netscape employees account for most of the roughly 12 to 20 employees at Mozilla's office in Mountain View, Calif. They are supplemented by about 30 software developers from IBM, Sun Microsystems and other companies working with Mozilla technology.

Mozilla officials did not respond to requests for comment before deadline.

Taken for granted

It's unlikely that any of the new browsers will overcome IE, but consumers will benefit from the increased competition, said Ed Felten, a Princeton computer-science professor who testified for the government in Microsoft's antitrust trial.

In those early days, browsers appeared ready to displace the operating system as the platform for personal computing, and the industry's future seemed to be at stake. That never came to pass.

"People now take browsers largely for granted as a piece of basic technology," Felten said.

Browser technology stagnated since Microsoft won the browser wars, he said, and most computer scientists have turned their attention elsewhere.

"We'll see renewed competition in the market between Firefox and IE and we'll probably see more progress than we saw for a while there," he said. "But I doubt it will be seen as one of the central issues in the computer industry."

Brier Dudley: 206-515-5687 or bdudley@seattletimes.com

That's the way with Microsoft (2, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222687)

the next version.

It's always better in the next version. Never mind that the next version won't be here for two years at least, but it will be better.

I don't care for extendable features. (1)

basvdlei (844717) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222690)

When developing a website you have to look at 2 "standards". The one from the W3C and the hacks you need to do, to make the site display correct in the latest IE. And i'm not saying anything about PNG rendering.

why would they care? (2, Insightful)

dotgod (567913) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222694)

even if they did consider mozilla a threat, why should they care? even the mozilla users will still need to buy windows.

*sigh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11222698)

guess it would have been to hard to write out this "story" without all the anti-ms crap. is that the best way to get your story up here on slashdot now? no wonder it's taking so long for people to take open source anything seriously. seems to me that posting without all the flames would have made the point hit home enough :)

Re:*sigh* (1)

Newspimp (723202) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222730)

Consider it a counter effect to the IE/XP commercials within that article.

The second F! (5, Funny)

SuperJason (726019) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222699)

The second F is supposed to be small!! Argh!

That is all.

Competition is a good thing (1)

robogymnast (755411) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222703)

This is a good example that could be used against all the outrageous patents that are being granted. Because IE, Firefox and Opera are all competing, every of the browsers have to bring something new to the table (whether it is more secure, faster, easier to learn, ...) in order to be successful. Patents do not foster innovation, competition does, and it's about time the law started reflecting that.

And they're NOT a monopoly? (4, Insightful)

Night Goat (18437) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222705)

See, it's comments like this that ought to make the DOJ convict Microsoft. When a company's not afraid of a far superior browser, that's ridiculous. They aren't afraid because of the legions of users who have no idea what a web browser is, and don't need to know, because they just use the browser that's built in. They equate internet with IE. I do tech support for an ISP, and I see this happen all the time. Many people have no idea that they can use other programs to get web pages. And this is because IE is bundled with Windows. It's bullshit that they can get away with this.


-- Night Goat, a proud Firefox/Safari user

Re:And they're NOT a monopoly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11222764)

Most people have no concept of 'software' 'program' 'desktop'

Not without a change in sysadmin policies (1)

Phoinix (666047) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222711)

As long as sysadmins do not limit browsers to FF/Opera or at least to a non-IE browser, not many people will switch.

For ~ a year I have been providing friends and family members with advice on using FF and even customized versions with improved default features only to notice that no one is using it yet. Only after my sister had to use my desktop for couple of weaks did she start liking FF (since IE is disabled).

The Mozilla Foundation should offer more customizable versions similar to IE so that ISP's and sysadmins (companies) can offer FF more easily.

In the meantime... (1)

spidereyes (599443) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222712)

Microsoft announces the changes included in Longhorn with Internet Explorer 1. Rename Internet Explorer to Microsoft Internet Firefox. 2. Allow *new* toe gestures for specialized mouse.

Life as normal then. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11222716)

Nothing new here, Move along please.

'Innovations' (1)

Nuskrad (740518) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222722)

The features in the next version of IE

*Popup Blocking
Stop annoying popup ads in their tracks with Internet Explorers's built in popup blocker.
*Tabbed Browsing
View more than one web page in a single window with this time saving feature. Open links in the background so that they're ready for viewing when you're ready to read them.
*Privacy and Security
Built with your security in mind, Internet Explorer keeps your computer safe from malicious spyware by not loading harmful ActiveX controls. A comprehensive set of privacy tools keep your online activity your business.
*Smarter Search
Google Search is built right into the toolbar, and there is a plethora of other search tools including Smart Keywords (type "dict " in the Location bar), and the new Find bar (which finds text as you type without covering up anything).
*Live Bookmarks
RSS integration lets you read the latest news headlines and read updates to your favorite sites that are syndicated.
*Hassle-Free Downloading
Files you download are automatically saved to your Desktop so they're easy to find. Fewer prompts mean files download quicker.
*Fits Like a Glove
Simple and intuitive, yet fully featured, Internet Explorer has all the functions you're used to - Favourites, History, Full Screen, Text Zooming to make pages with small text easier to read, etc.
*S, M, L or XL--It's Your Choice
Internet Explorer is the most customizable browser on the planet. Customize your toolbars to add additional buttons, install new MSMods that add new features, add new Skins to browse with style, and use the adaptive search system to allow you to search an infinite number of engines. Internet Explorer is as big or small as you want.
*Setup's a Snap
At only 47.3MB (Windows), Firefox takes just a few hours to download over a slow connection and years over a fast connection. The installer gets you set up quickly, and the new Easy Transition system imports all of your settings - Favorites, passwords and other data from Internet Explorer, the only other browser - so you can start surfing right away. (After compulsary registration)
*A Developer's Best Friend
Internet Explorer comes with a standard set of developer tools including a powerful JavaScript and CSS error/warning console, and an optional Document Inspector that gives detailed insight about your pages.
*Read Mail--Not Spam
Outlook Express is the perfect complement to Internet Explorer.

Hmm, that sounds familiar...

Re:'Innovations' (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11222756)

You're an idiot.

Please, spread more of your idiocy, slashbots can't get enough of it.

Re:'Innovations' (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222762)

"Hmm, that sounds familiar..."

Oh brother. Damned if they do, damned if they don't, just because it's Microsoft.

"I switched from IE because FireFox has the features I want! Ready pitchforks!!"

"Microsoft stole the features I like in FireFox and put them into IE! Ready pitchforks!"

Re:'Innovations' (2, Informative)

rainman_bc (735332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222778)

Of course when you copy and paste you tard:

...At only 47.3MB (Windows), Firefox ...

Re:'Innovations' (1)

Nuskrad (740518) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222828)

Of course when you copy and paste you tard:

Ah, give me a break, I've taken too many drugs :P

Some other famous quotes... (5, Insightful)

H_Fisher (808597) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222725)

...from like-minded individuals throughout history:

T. Rex, 30-some odd million years ago: "Mammals? Ha! I'm the biggest predator in town! Why the hell should I worry, I rule this place!"

Roman generals, c. 200 a.d.: "Barbarians, you say? We've got nothing to worry about. We're the biggest army on the planet. What could possibly go wrong?"

A Confederate general, 1861: "Those Yankees ain't nothin' to worry 'bout! We'll run 'em back across th' Potomac in a month, then we'll go back to plantin' cotton."

Adolf Hitler, 1942: "We can fight a war on two fronts! The Russians can't stop us! We're invincible!"

The Iraqi information minister, 2003: "The Americans will never set foot in Baghdad."

It's '1984' all over again. (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222729)

When they say they are not worried about Firefox, it means that they are deeply scared by it, and preparing an all out attack against it. We've seen it with Linux.

Microsoft is doomed, they just don't know it yet. In 10 to 15 years time, no one is gonna remember Windows.

Re:It's '1984' all over again. (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222820)

"When they say they are not worried about Firefox, it means that they are deeply scared by it, and preparing an all out attack against it."

I doubt they're scared by it. FireFox isn't doing anything that IE couldn't easily be made to do. Their next browser will likely imitate FireFox in many ways and the casual user just won't see the big need to move. Reality may tell a different story, but no, Microsoft has no reason to be scared.

"Microsoft is doomed, they just don't know it yet. In 10 to 15 years time, no one is gonna remember Windows."

The same could be said for Linux. I know, you're shaking your head etc, but the real flaw here is the 10-15 years time bit you put in your post. For all you know, the OS could be so transparent in 10-15 years that it won't matter anymore. Heck, we could all be leasing run-time off a central computer down the road. Linux wouldn't matter much to the individual user then, would it? Maybe? Maybe not. 10 to 15 years is quite a few life-times in computing terms.

Window tabs (1)

sycamore_days (844237) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222741)

but will the new IE have window tabs? ;)

Of course they will wait... (1)

albn (835144) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222750)

...it is another marketing ploy that is more likely to backfire, but we all know Microsoft is king on coming out better than they came in.

They are in the process of making another operating system, and of course all of the "innovative" features will be included in the next release and will make users want to buy that operating system with the features they want to see in a browser.

That kind of marketing might have worked yesteryear, but with the likes of FireFox and other alternatives actually LISTENING to customers and doing something about it as soon as possible instead of waiting months and months for patches, it is bound to make others just dump what they are used to and move to something else.

It does not matter how mauch we rant about Microsoft, they still have 95%+ of the market as far as desktops are concerned, but with losing market share with large companies moving to open source or other (less free/open source) alternatives, it should make them worry and not use scare tactics to make people stay...

It's in the water. (1)

funny-jack (741994) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222755)

Insane denial seems pretty common [blogspot.com] in this neck of the woods.

It must be something in the water.

Firefox is safe now. (4, Funny)

af_robot (553885) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222770)

Until they have ANY kind of ActiveX enabled by default for all sites FireFox is safe.

What MS can do quickly is to release quick patch via windowsupdate which will disable all ActiveX by default and allow it only from trusted (whitelisted) sites with a BIG HUGE WARNING like this:

"I'm a stupid fucking idiot and allow this binary to run without any restriction on my computer.", type: "YES I AM",
next window: "I do understand what this ActiveX can delete all information, be a virus or spyware and I'm brave enough to Allow This"

Just like in Windows2003 default IE enhanced security configuration but more user friendly :)

Firefox is nice, but not Perfect (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11222771)

An Internet browser is supposed to be my interface to the Internet. When I'm looking at a webpage, I don't always care about standards compliance. Sometimes I want to divulge as little information as possible, while collecting as much as possible. This means that the browser needs to be able to lie about its user-agent, ignore meta refresh commands, and other such things.

And so, I'm sorry to say that IE has the most correct model of settings there is. Konqueror has the next best, and Firefox still uses the old Netscape model. I want to browse by default with cookies and Javascript turned off and Java disabled. These settings often need to be turned on together by site. It's more correct to group the settings by site than it is to group them by feature. IE groups its settings by what ``zone'' a site falls in. If instead of only providing four zones, they allowed a user configurable number of zones (perhaps one for each site looked at frequently), then they'd have something nice. Not that I'll ever use IE again anyway.

I'd also like super logging capabilities. Offline browsing doesn't always work with Firefox, as some image or something wasn't cached for some reason. This is unacceptable. The webserver I accessed has a record of every file I downloaded from them. I want a record of this too, and the ability to store any file I download indefinitely.

Remember. A web browser is my interface to the Internet, not the Internet's interface to me.

These are all complaints against Firefox. Internet Explorer is beyond repair, no matter how confident Microsoft is about it. IE's mishandling of MIME types makes it unsafe to even let IE _touch_ Freenet. IE has a horrible track record. If I were in charge of IE, I'd glue Active-X stuff onto Firefox to get the next version of IE.

The usual Microsoft tactics... (1)

grefyne (552230) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222772)

Microsoft has a long history of doing this to put off people potentially switching over - remember Win95 versus OS/2 - "Just wait for the next version, it will blow the competition away". Usually time lines slip and the product isn't as good as the promises.

"Conflict", Microsoft-style (3, Funny)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222777)

From the article:

Hachamovitch said he has to balance those concerns with the requests of customers who want new features such as the "tabbed" Web page displays offered by Opera and Firefox.

"You go through and talk to all these people and ask them what they want out of a browser and there are a lot of conflicting requests around: 'Hey, give me tabs right now' versus 'I want stability, I want a platform that won't break, I want to make sure I have extensability, I want to make sure have manageability,' " he said.


I'm not sure why he thinks those requirements conflict with each other. The Moz team doesn't ...

I am worried about Firefox. Still needs work. (4, Insightful)

zymano (581466) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222781)

And the Firefox developers aren't even trying to fix the bugs people want fixed. Like the bug about needing a "FAST BACK BUTTON" like in opera (has over 100 votes at bugzilla and they wont fix it) or even a rewind.

The Netcraft toolbar type addon which tells you which country a website is from is a good idea. Another idea would be to allow you to report malicious websites and report on history of commercial websites that steal your money.

Microsoft is install-driven (4, Insightful)

ehack (115197) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222789)

Microsoft is Install-driven - they know that however bad the product is, if they can get it installed they will always win, later. Look at how easily they got rid of Netscape !

A product like Linux is much more dangerous to them, because it fights back at install time, eg. Linspire or Linux server platforms.

Edmund

Head Start? (5, Interesting)

__Maad__ (263535) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222791)

That just gives the MozBoys a year head start.


They'll need that head start.. Has anyone here actually tried developing for the Mozilla platform? It isn't a walk in the park. The documentation available on XULplanet, mozilla.org, etc, although improving, is rather sparse and frequently out of date. Even some books on mozilla development are out of date already - RAD in Mozilla (published this year I believe) has some wrong details about XUL tree selections, for example. One thing that the mozilla development community needs badly right now is a php.net, wiki-style website to encourage anyone and everyone to frequently update documentation easily and in small pieces. This is a tremendous amount of work, but I for one would be more than willing to contribute bits and pieces as I come across them. This basic documentation step needs to be done to encourage people to develop sites and applications for the Mozilla platform -- and to a greater extent, more modern w3c standards (DOM2/3,CSS2/3,etc).

I think that what the Firefox devs have done is an absolutely amazing feat of marketing and UI-cleanup, however, there is a huge amount of legacy code in web applications and scripts and pages in general dedicated to MSIE's own proprietary DOM, ActiveX, and rendering quirks. We need to bring those people to the standards-compliant world and, to a lesser extent, to the Mozilla platform.

I just don't see that critical mass in the application side of things yet, and that will be part of winning the battle. If XAML and so-forth start to make inroads, we are in trouble.

I'm not worried either. (3, Interesting)

robyannetta (820243) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222798)

For once in my life, I RTFA all the way through. Gimme a prize.

Microsoft seems to have fogotten that competition benefits everyone, including their own bottom line.

I for one, choose to use Firefox. Not because it's open source, but because it works for me.

By reading this... (1)

josmum (828708) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222810)

I nominate you to lick my face and defecate on it, in either order.

The next NY Times add will be... (1)

faramir_fr (831190) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222815)

When Microsoft will release Longhorn. It will list the names of the last 10k IE users.

Meanwhile Pepsi says (2, Informative)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11222816)

Don't worry about the new formula from our competitor, we have something even better coming very soon.

Seriously, this isn't news, this is basic marketing. No company is ever going to admit that the competition is superior, which is what they'd be doing if they said they were worried.

No athlete is going to say he's worried on game day, either. "Gee we suck! I sure hope the Bears don't hurt us!". It doesn't happen.

But anything to bash MSFT, I suppose.

Fhomo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11222819)

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