Mozilla: IE 7 to boost Firefox growth

Foundation hopes to attract corporate Windows 2000 users who will be unable to take advantage of improvements in IE 7.

The Mozilla Foundation is expecting to see a surge in interest in the Firefox browser from enterprise users once Microsoft launches Internet Explorer 7 next year.

IE 7, which will be available in beta this summer, will not be available to users of Windows 2000.

Asa Dotzler, the community coordinator at the Mozilla Foundation, said Tuesday that he hopes to attract many corporate Windows 2000 users to the Firefox browser, since they will be unable to take advantage of the improvements in IE 7.

"We have high hopes that we'll do better and better in (the enterprise) space with Windows 2000 users," Dotzler said. "We're excited about Microsoft launching IE 7--it will remind a lot of people that if they want better features they have to spend hundreds of dollars upgrading" to Windows XP.

Nearly half of all Windows-based business desktops are still using Windows 2000, according to a recent survey by AssetMetrix, meaning that there is a big market for the Mozilla Foundation to tap into.

Firefox 1.1, which is due for release this month, will include a range of features to encourage companies to migrate to the open-source browser, including an auto-update and preference locking feature.

The auto-update system, which Dotzler described as a "world-class update system," will allow users to automatically install patches and updates, rather than needing to reinstall Firefox each time an update is released. Version 1.1 will also include improved tools to lock down browser preferences, he said.

Improvements in Firefox, along with IE 7, could lead to a dramatic increase in the open-source browser's market share, according to Dotzler. "As we improve our tools for corporate deployments and people feel they're being left behind on Windows 2000, hopefully we'll see a real domino effect," he said.

ZDNet UK also spoke to Dotzler about the history of Firefox and Mozilla, the rise of Firefox in the enterprise, future marketing campaigns and how the Mozilla Foundation plans to target less tech-savvy consumers. Get his take on Firefox's and Mozilla's history here, and read the full interview with Dotzler here.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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