, Firefox has between 16% and 21% of worldwide usage, making it the third most popular web browser, according to different sources. According to Mozilla, Firefox counts over 450 million users around the world. The browser has had particular success in Indonesia, Germany, and Poland, where it is the most popular browser with 57%, 45%, and 44% of the market share, respectively.
The Firefox project has undergone several name changes. Originally titled Phoenix, it was renamed because of trademark problems with Phoenix Technologies. The replacement name, Firebird, provoked an intense response from the Firebird free database software project. In response, the Mozilla Foundation stated that the browser should always bear the name Mozilla Firebird to avoid confusion with the database software. After further pressure from the database server's development community, on February 9, 2004, Mozilla Firebird became Mozilla Firefox, often referred to as simply Firefox. Mozilla prefers that Firefox be abbreviated as Fx or fx, though it is often abbreviated as FF. The Firefox project went through many versions before version 1.0 was released on November 9, 2004.
Firefox has passed the Acid2 standards-compliance test since version 3.0. Mozilla had originally stated that they did not intend for Firefox to pass the Acid3 test fully because they believed that the SVG fonts part of the test had become outdated and irrelevant, due to WOFF being agreed upon as a standard by all major browser makers. Because the SVG font tests were removed from the Acid3 test in September 2011, Firefox 4 and greater scored 100/100.
Firefox also implements (section "How does Phishing and Malware Protection work in Firefox?") a proprietary protocol "(...) Do not use this protocol without explicit written permission from Google.", " Note: This is not a license to use the defined protocol. (...)" from Google called "Safe Browsing", used to exchange data related with phishing and malware protection.
The Mozilla Foundation offers a "bug bounty" (up to 3000 USD cash reward and a Mozilla T-shirt) to researchers who discover severe security holes in Firefox. Official guidelines for handling security vulnerabilities discourage early disclosure of vulnerabilities so as not to give potential attackers an advantage in creating exploits.
Because Firefox generally has fewer publicly known unpatched security vulnerabilities than Internet Explorer (see Comparison of web browsers), improved security is often cited as a reason to switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox. The Washington Post reports that exploit code for known critical unpatched security vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer was available for 284 days in 2006. In comparison, exploit code for known, critical security vulnerabilities in Firefox was available for 9 days before Mozilla issued a patch to remedy the problem.
A 2006 Symantec study showed that, although Firefox had surpassed other browsers in the number of vendor-confirmed vulnerabilities that year through September, these vulnerabilities were patched far more quickly than those found in other browsers – Firefox's vulnerabilities were fixed on average one day after the exploit code was made available, as compared to nine days for Internet Explorer. Symantec later clarified their statement, saying that Firefox still had fewer security vulnerabilities than Internet Explorer, as counted by security researchers.
In 2010 a study of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) based on data compiled from the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) Firefox was listed as the 5th most vulnerable desktop software, Internet Explorer ranked 8th, and Google Chrome as 1st.
InfoWorld has cited security experts saying that as Firefox becomes more popular, more vulnerabilities will be found, a claim that Mitchell Baker, president of the Mozilla Foundation, has denied: "There is this idea that market share alone will make you have more vulnerabilities. It is not relational at all."
In October 2009, Microsoft's security engineers acknowledged that Firefox was vulnerable since February of that year due to a .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 Windows Update that silently installed a buggy 'Windows Presentation Foundation' plug-in into Firefox. This vulnerability has since been patched by Microsoft.
As of February 11, 2011, Firefox 3.6 had no known unpatched security vulnerabilities according to Secunia. Internet Explorer 8 had five unpatched security vulnerabilities, the worst being rated "Less Critical" by Secunia.
In February 2013, plans were announced for Firefox 22 to disable third-party cookies by default. However, the introduction of the feature has since been delayed so Mozilla developers can "collect and analyze data on the effect of blocking some third-party cookies." Mozilla has also collaborated with the University of Stanford's "Cookie Clearinghouse" project to develop a blacklist and whitelist of sites that will be used in the filter.
|Recommended hardware and required software|
|Microsoft Windows||XP SP2/SP3 / 2003 SP1/SP2/R2 / Vista /|
2008 / 7 / 2008R2 / 8 / 2012
|2000 / XP RTM/SP1 / 2003 RTM||and 12.0||2004–2013|
|NT 4 / 98 / ME||2004–2008|
|OS X||10.6 – 10.9||2009–present|
|10.5 (Intel)||and 16.0.2||2007–2013|
|10.4 – 10.5 (PPC)||2005–2012|
|10.2 – 10.3||2004–2008|
|10.0 – 10.1||2004–2006|
|Linux||Desktop kernel 2.2.14 and newer|
(with some libraries)
In the past, Firefox was licensed solely under the MPL, then version 1.1, which the Free Software Foundation criticized for being weak copyleft; the license permitted, in limited ways, proprietary . Additionally, code only licensed under MPL 1.1 could not legally be linked with code under the GPL. To address these concerns, Mozilla re-licensed most of Firefox under the tri-license scheme of MPL 1.1, GPL 2.0, or LGPL 2.1. Since the re-licensing, developers were free to choose the license under which they received most of the code, to suit their intended use: GPL or LGPL linking and derivative works when one of those licenses is chosen, or MPL use (including the possibility of proprietary derivative works) if they chose the MPL. However, on January 3, 2012, Mozilla released the GPL-compatible MPL 2.0, and with the release of Firefox 13 on June 5, 2012, Mozilla used it to replace the tri-licensing scheme.
Mozilla has placed the Firefox logo files under open-source licenses, but its trademark guidelines do not allow displaying altered or similar logos " Don't Create new elements that look enough like the Firefox logo so as to cause confusion." in contexts where trademark law applies. There has been some controversy over the Mozilla Foundation's intentions in stopping certain open source distributions from using the "Firefox" trademark. Mozilla Foundation Chairperson Mitchell Baker explained in an interview in 2007 that distributions could freely use the Firefox trademark if they did not modify source-code, and that the Mozilla Foundation's only concern was with users getting a consistent experience when they used "Firefox".
To allow distributions of the code without using the official branding, the Firefox source code contains a "branding switch". This switch allows the code to be compiled without the official logo and name, for example to produce a derivative work unencumbered by restrictions on the Firefox trademark (this is also often used for alphas of future Firefox versions). In the unbranded compilation the trademarked logo and name are replaced with a freely distributable generic globe logo and the name of the release series from which the modified version was derived.
Distributing modified versions of Firefox under the "Firefox" name requires explicit approval from Mozilla for the changes made to the underlying code, and requires the use of all of the official branding. For example, it is not permissible to use the name "Firefox" without also using the official logo. When the Debian project decided to stop using the official Firefox logo in 2006 (because Mozilla's copyright restrictions at the time were incompatible with Debian's guidelines), they were told by a representative of the Mozilla Foundation that this was not acceptable, and were asked either to comply with the published trademark guidelines or cease using the "Firefox" name in their distribution. Ultimately, Debian switched to branding their modified version of Firefox "Iceweasel", along with other Mozilla software.
Shortly afterwards, Garrity was invited by the Mozilla Foundation to head up the new visual identity team. The release of Firefox 0.8 in February 2004 saw the introduction of the new branding efforts, including new icon designs by silverorange, a group of web developers with a long-standing relationship with Mozilla, with final renderings by Jon Hicks, who had previously worked on Camino. The logo was later revised and updated, fixing several flaws found when it was enlarged.
The animal shown in the logo is a stylized fox, although "firefox" is considered to be a common name for the red panda. The panda, according to Hicks, "didn't really conjure up the right imagery" and wasn't widely known. The logo was chosen to make an impression while not shouting out with overdone artwork. It had to stand out in the user's mind, be easy for others to remember, and stand out without causing too much distraction when seen among other icons.
The Firefox icon is a trademark used to designate the official Mozilla build of the Firefox software and builds of official distribution partners. Mozilla Trademark Policy for Distribution Partners Version 0.9 (DRAFT). Retrieved November 2, 2006. For this reason, Debian and other software distributors who distribute patched or modified versions of Firefox do not use the icon.
Other logos are also used for specific versions of the software:
On September 12, 2004, a marketing portal dubbed "Spread Firefox" (SFX) debuted along with the Firefox Preview Release, creating a centralized space for the discussion of various marketing techniques. A two-page ad in the December 16 edition of the New York Times, placed by Mozilla Foundation in coordination with Spread Firefox, featured the names of the thousands of people worldwide who contributed to the Mozilla Foundation's fundraising campaign to support the launch of the Firefox 1.0 web browser. SFX portal enhanced the "Get Firefox" button program, giving users "referrer points" as an incentive. The site lists the top 250 referrers. From time to time, the SFX team or SFX members launch marketing events organized at the Spread Firefox website. As a part of the Spread Firefox campaign, there was an attempt to break the world download record with the release of Firefox 3. This resulted in an official certified Guinness world record, with over eight million downloads.
The "World Firefox Day" campaign started on July 15, 2006, the third anniversary of the founding of the Mozilla Foundation, and ran until September 15, 2006. Participants registered themselves and a friend on the website for nomination to have their names displayed on the Firefox Friends Wall, a digital wall that will be displayed at the headquarters of the Mozilla Foundation.
In December 2007, Mozilla launched Live Chat, a service allowing users to seek technical support from volunteers. Because Live chat is kept running by volunteers, it is only available when they are online.
On February 21, 2008 in honor of reaching 500 million downloads, the Firefox community celebrated by visiting FreeRice to earn 500 million grains of rice.
In February 2011, Mozilla announced that it would be retiring Spread Firefox (SFX). Three months later, in May 2011, Mozilla officially closed Spread Firefox. Mozilla wrote that "there are currently plans to create a new iteration of this website Spread at a later date."
Softpedia noted that Firefox 1.5 took longer to start up than other browsers, which was confirmed by further speed tests. IE 6 launched more swiftly than Firefox 1.5 on Windows XP since many of its components were built into the OS and loaded during system startup. As a workaround for the issue, a preloader application was created that loaded components of Firefox on startup, similar to Internet Explorer. A Windows Vista feature called SuperFetch performs a similar task of preloading Firefox if it is used often enough.
Tests performed by PC World and Zimbra in 2006 indicated that Firefox 2 used less memory than Internet Explorer 7. Firefox 3 used less memory than Internet Explorer 7, Opera 9.50 Beta, Safari 3.1 Beta, and Firefox 2 in tests performed by Mozilla, CyberNet, and The Browser World. In mid-2009, Betanews benchmarked Firefox 3.5 and declared that it performed "nearly ten times better on XP than Microsoft Internet Explorer 7".
In July 2010, all IBM employees (about 400,000) were asked to use Firefox as their default browser.
, Firefox was the third most widely used browser, with approximately 25% of worldwide usage share of web browsers. According to StatCounter, Firefox usage peaked in November 2009 and usage share remained stagnant until October 2010 when it lost market share, a trend that continued for over a year. Its first consistent gains in usage share since September 2010 occurred in February through May 2012 before declining again in June and July.
|Red||Former release; no longer supported|
|Yellow||Former release; still supported|
|Green||Current supported release|