Following Thursday’s Firefox ad in the New York Times, the paper has a great news article today (dated tomorrow) on why Firefox has been so successful so far:
In late 1995, at a time when Netscape Navigator was synonymous with the Web and Internet Explorer had yet to attract many adopters, Microsoft made a risky but strategically wise decision to redesign the Internet Explorer code from the bottom up – re-architecting, in industry jargon. As Michael A. Cusumano of M.I.T. and David B. Yoffie of Harvard chronicled in their 1998 book, “Competing on Internet Time: Lessons From Netscape and Its Battle With Microsoft,” that decision meant delaying the release of Internet Explorer 3.0, but the resulting product was technically far superior to Netscape’s Navigator. In Browser Wars I, the better browser won.
Today, it’s the Internet Explorer code that is long overdue for a top-to-bottom redesign, one that would treat security as integral, and Firefox is the challenger with new, clean code.
And a telling reality from Gary Schare, Microsoft’s director of product management for Windows:
Mr. Schare may be the official spokesman, but he does not use Internet Explorer himself. Instead he uses Maxthon, published by a little company of the same name. It uses the Internet Explorer engine but provides loads of features that Internet Explorer does not. “Tabs are what hooked me,” he told me, referring to the ability to open within a single window many different Web sites and move easily among them, rather than open separate windows for each one and tax the computer’s memory. Firefox has tabs. Other browsers do, too. But fundamental design decisions for Internet Explorer prevent the addition of this and other desiderata without a thorough update of Windows, which will not be complete until 2006 at the earliest.
New York Times | The Fox Is in Microsoft’s Henhouse (and Salivating) (free registration required)
Adding some perspective to this picture, you can see what’s going on with Internet Explorer development at the IE Blog, run by the developers.