Open sourced uber-genius Mozilla, launched , the company’s latest internet browser yesterday.? The browser is available for free download on the company’s website and was the center of a relatively “controversial” marketing campaign.? Firefox asked the world to make the new browser the most downloaded application during a 24 hour span in the history of the internet.? Many observers were quick to point out that the specific “record” does not exist and that Firefox would essentially set the new benchmark (at 7 million downloads).? The massive activity on Mozilla’s website also brought its servers to their knees – shutting the site down on many occasions.

I was one of the 7 million.

Contrary to the heated rivalry between Microsoft and Netscape, which included juvenile tagging of each company’s headquarters, Microsoft’s IE development team congratulated Mozilla on the launch of its new browser by sending them a cake.? The same gesture was made in 2006 when Mozilla launched Firefox 2.0.? Why the pleasantries between the young upstart and the evil empire that is Microsoft?? Let me plagiarize a comment that I read regarding the cake–o-gram.

“Assuming that the IE team is composed largely of people who actually want to make a decent browser, this doesn’t surprise me at all. If Mozilla/Firefox hadn’t happened, IE would still be sitting neglected at version five point something, and the IE team would all be either working on something non-browser-related or not working at Microsoft at all. And of course if Firefox somehow disappeared tomorrow, IE would likely revert to a neglected state pretty quickly.

In other words, Firefox is directly responsible for the IE team being the IE team. So assuming they like being the IE team, I imagine they’ll keep cheering Firefox along for the foreseeable future.”


Through the magic of competition, while Firefox has taken considerable share from Microsoft’s IE, the application has also forced Microsoft to develop a better solution. I don’t think that Microsoft alone has the creativity and the volume of minds to keep up with Mozilla’s millions of dedicated widget creators, but its encouraging to see Microsoft at least try.

For gap intelligence, Firefox was keystone solution that opened our eyes to applications outside of Microsoft.? With Internet Explorer 7.0, Microsoft added new code that limited the flexibility of web page frames on existing websites (its more complex, but I’ll never understand the specifics).? As a result, web sites that worked perfectly with Internet Explorer 6.0, did not work at all with Internet Explorer 7.0 – our Data Center among them.? The cost to reprogram the Data Center to be compatible with 7.0 was roughly $50,000 – a cost too big for us to swallow just 18 months ago.?

The best alternative for us was to find a new browser, which we found in Firefox, and encouraged our clients to use the application.? Through its open sourced programming, Firefox has been a miracle for a small companies like gap intelligence and we use many of the free add-on applications such as Fast Dial and gspace on a daily basis.

Firefox led us to Google Apps, which now hosts our email, company intranet, calendars, and functions as our internal document handling solution (google docs).? The integration of Google Apps led to Thunderbird, a free web based email application that enabled us to ditch Microsoft Exchange and Outlook in a single swipe. Outside of Word, Excel, and Windows XP (desperately avoiding Vista), gap intelligence is a Microsoft free business.

We may be a part of a larger trend among small businesses that are searching for affordable solutions that are more stable than the Microsoft applications we have been so engrained with for the past two decades.? As today’s small businesses eventually grow into large corporations, these open sourced free applications will likely drive innovations for Corporate America for the next 20 years – something for copier and printer manufacturers to consider when developing their next set of printer control languages and drivers.

On a side note – gap intelligence is currently working on the Data Center 2.0, which will be a flash based application and will work on IE 7.0.? We welcome any and all suggestions to make the new DC2.0 as cool as possible – shopping cart for report downloads, PDF generator, and direct online analyst availability are just a few of the new innovations.