Firefox 4 was released today. In case you weren't aware, this is a big deal — it means the world now has three outstanding web browsers to choose from, the other two being Chrome 10 and Internet Explorer 9.
Yes, I said Internet Explorer, and yes, I mean the one from Microsoft. After seven years of letting Firefox and Chrome eat away at IE's market dominance, Microsoft has finally come to its senses and released a browser worth a damn. It may be too late, though, because it looks like IE's usage share is just under 45% worldwide with Firefox and Chrome combined seeing almost the same usage. We'll see.
By the way, I don't mean to snub Safari folks with any of this, I just don't think Apple's focus is the desktop, or browsers, for that matter. And honestly, I can't blame them. If I were making money hand over fist on mobile products, that's exactly where my attention would be too.
When Firefox first came onto the browser scene, IE was the only real contender. I downloaded Firefox, used it some, liked it, recommended it to those who were interested. Firefox stuck around. Many of the viruses of the time took advantage of weaknesses in IE, while Firefox went largely untouched. I started recommending it much more strongly based on that quality alone, as I'm sure did others who cared about that kind of thing (such as people like me stuck with the task of removing them). Within a couple of years Firefox had made a pretty serious dent in IE's numbers. Microsoft released IE7, but the hemorrhaging continued.
At some point Chrome came along, meaning two Davids were throwing stones at Goliath. And Goliath stumbled. The situation remains the same today. Firefox and Chrome are still picking folks up, and IE continues to drop. But everyone benefits from all this competition: IE has been kicked in the shins and forced to get with the program, and standardization has become the true way to get things done on the web, which is how it should have always been.
I don't push Firefox as hard as I used to. It simply gets the job done, as do Chrome and even IE. You can now choose any browser you want and get the results you're after. The golden days have finally come to the Internet — now it's just a matter of convincing people to upgrade their browser of choice.