Firefox reaches 18 percent of corporate desktops

Mozilla's open-source browser is starting to storm the corporate barricades. It's about time.

Mozilla Firefox's share of the enterprise desktop market has reached 18 percent, according to a new Forrester report noted by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley.

This number will seem low to those who have seen higher numbers elsewhere (for example, as high as 30 percent in Europe ). This simply reflects the bias of the report toward formal enterprise adoption, a route that Mozilla has explicitly not taken. Basically, Firefox is not an alternate universe into which you will be banished.

Forrester's report states:

Mozilla's share of the browser market rose steadily throughout 2007, only slowing for the quarter directly following the release of Internet Explorer 7 (IE 7) in late 2006. Adoption in the enterprise nearly doubled to 18 percent by the end of 2007, but large-scale, companywide deployments are not yet typical. Mozilla continues to expend little energy on wooing IT managers to formally adopt Firefox....

And yet it's getting them, all the same.

Why?

Foley cites Internet Explorer's shortcomings as a primary driver for Firefox's growth, and there's certainly something to this. But in my experience, Firefox grows because it is simply a better browser. Period. People hear about it via word of mouth. Or people like me install it for our grandmothers and parents to save them from the bother imposed by IE.

Once inside Firefox, life gets better. It is massively expandable and customizable. When I first switched to Firefox (from Safari--I've long disliked IE), I hated its chubby icons. No problem: Someone had already created a theme that looked just like Safari.

Firefox continues continued to outpace IE in terms of innovation and in terms of performance. I was playing around on IE7 last night on my new Windows partition on my Mac. It looks better than it used to, but it still reflects the design decisions (both good and bad) of one particular Redmond-based monopoly. Mozilla's Firefox? It was built by the planet in that planet's disparate image(s).

From my big-company days, I know there are still a range of enterprise applications written specifically for IE. Shame on the slothful developers who can't be bothered to design their applications properly for a heterogenous computing world.

As Forrester reports, however, there is an increasing number of applications that are adding Firefox support, and rightly so. Enterprises should never box themselves into any one provider, no matter how benevolent. Costs fall when choice rises.

If you haven't tried out Firefox lately, I'd encourage you to do so. It really is a markedly better browser.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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