Will Firefox be the app that mainstreams open source?
Hearing public discussions of Firefox by geeks and non-techies, and reading reports of the rampant growth of the Mozilla Foundation's browser, one has to wonder whether we may be witnessing the emergence of the first open source application with enough enticement -- in safety, efficiency, and "anything but IE" -- to draw everyone from enterprise users to proverbial IT grandmothers and pave the way for mainstream open source use. Despite some skepticism of the idea from industry analysts and observers, others indicated that regardless of the degree to which Firefox displaces Internet Explorer or the Redmond desktop grip, there is no hiding the fact that Firefox is hot. The trendy open source application -- which promotes another pillar killer in the form of the lightweight Thunderbird email client to replace Outlook -- is taking advantage of the kind of viral spread and buzz that moves software to the mainstream. The Google-like appearance of Blake Ross on this month's cover of Wired only reinforces the idea. And while 5 percent of the browser market still leaves a long way before anything Microsoft-related is supplanted, it does represent a start. It only took a few months of Firefox gains at IE's expense for Microsoft to take pause and pivot on its plans for IE, which will now get updated this summer.