It appears Mozilla leadership is telling corporate partners to get lost.
I realize Ed Bott is a devoted worshiper of Microsoft. But that doesn’t mean he’s ignorant, nor especially dishonest, just biased. When he says Mozilla to enterprise customers: “Drop dead”, it appears he is simply crowing over what everyone should have already known. The Mozilla folks are not interested in the needs of corporate IT.
There was a time when Netscape, then Mozilla, then Firefox were avidly hoping to become the flagship browser of every corporate IT department. That was a sentiment held over from the days when everyone’s first contact with desktop PCs was in the workplace. There would have been no need to mass produce cheap knock-off “IBM compatible” PCs had folks not learned to see their value first by using the more expensive IBM systems their employer decided was necessary. Nowadays, the front wave of technology is not business and government, but the consumer. In this, Mozilla folks are probably correct.
But they are making at least one huge mistake: What happens when the economy regresses a bit and folks can’t get new systems, and businesses and government are the primary market again? Such is almost on top of us. Consider that average consumers now see the net through the tiny screens of mobile devices, while only those doing actual work keep the desktop market alive. Compare this with the Linux market itself, on which Mozilla is very largely dependent in some ways. Ubuntu leads the consumer-based expansion of Linux adoption, but Red Hat and friends dominate the corporate-government field. When times get tough and folks are stuck with using an older system they can’t afford to replace, they won’t be installing the latest fat Ubuntu release. They’ll be installing the long-term supported stable release of Red Hat and clones. Not because of advertising, but because if they find Linux worth using at all, it will be the reliable, stable thing which does not leave their aging hardware struggling to keep up.
Meanwhile, Red Hat and friends have dug in their heels on Firefox. When 5 was released, the Red Hat chain of updates gave us 3.6.18. That is, an update of the 3.6 series for security and bug fixes. If Mozilla drops this, either Red Hat will adopt it and backport fixes, or it will disappear from the system. The corporate clients of Red Hat won’t tolerate jumping major release numbers every six weeks.
For you, if you are a casual user, regardless of your OS I think you should stay loose on this. For God’s sake, DO NOT USE IE! It’s easily one the biggest security holes in an already unsecured operating system. If you like playing with frequent updates and eye-candy stuff, then chase Firefox. But be warned: Firefox is giving lots of folks big problems on lots of websites. I’ve seen plenty of computers which, for example, couldn’t browse and watch videos on YouTube for reasons I couldn’t discern when fixing their computers. Granted, there is a lot I don’t know, but the Net is loaded with complaints of that sort and no fixes even when real experts get involved. I tend to think Firefox does some really wonky things with networking protocols.
If you don’t care about tight control over how things run, just need it to work, use Chrome browser. It’s also running breakneck forward with new releases, but at least it works consistently.
If you need better control and security really matters, use Opera. All browsers stink, but Opera generally doesn’t choke you. It’s occasionally a little heavy on resource usage on Linux, but it’s tolerable so far, and improving. It’s the browser I’ve long used most, but it’s not for everyone. That is, the graphical browser I use most; I prefer to surf with Elinks and Lynx most of the time. But while Opera is only a tiny slice of the user pie on the Net, the company behind it will work rather hard with IT departments. If you tell them what you want, they’ll produce it if they can, even as they try to please the common consumer user base. I really like this company, and gain nothing by telling you that.
Most business folks are not nice people. Most companies are all about profit, and only by accident will they pay much attention to morals. When they are hungry, they tend to work harder, as Opera does. When they own the whole field, they only pretend at best, as does Microsoft. At MS, you are the product delivered to their corporate allies; Windows is the means of delivery. The vast number of doorways they leave open for their partners are what crackers exploit when they stumble across them. Open Source operations may decide whether they will serve IT, the consumer, or try to balance things. Most simply refuse to play at all, and serve only their internal interests. At best, they’ll play to the fanboy audience.
This is what we see happening at Mozilla. They pretend to play to the consumer, but it’s really the fanboy audience, which is not the same thing. The fanboy crowd lives in a fantasy world of new toys, and seldom do any real work on computers. They put all sorts of efforts working with computers; it’s a devotion to the thing itself, not what it does. In actuality, I believe Mozilla leaders are simply turning inward, listening to the strange, almost alien voices inside their developers’ minds. That’s what we expect from Open Source. Sometimes it works out okay, but the best Open Source products are those which filter through some packaging outfit who understands the real world of computer users, who understand using computers to do useful things, not chasing some ghostly dream of computer perfection.