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Firefox marks its first year on the Net

In one year, the browser has grabbed 8.65 percent of the market and put a dent in Internet Explorer's dominance.

Firefox turned 1 year old Wednesday, marking yet another milestone for the popular open-source browser.

Since the debut of Firefox 1.0 last November, users have downloaded 106.4 million copies of the open-source Web browser, according to the Mozilla Foundation, which coordinated the development of Firefox.

And within a span of a year, Firefox has grabbed 8.65 percent of the market and put a dent into Internet Explorer's dominance, according to Web site traffic tracking in October by NetApplications.

"At the launch, we had a million downloads on the first day and have not seen any letup in demand," said Chris Beard, head of marketing and product management for Mozilla Corp.

In the past year, Firefox helped validate the concept of an open-source browser and encourage its use through viral word-by-mouth marketing, he added. And as Firefox enters its second year, several changes are in store.

Earlier this month, the test version of Firefox 1.5 Release Candidate 1 came out, featuring elements such as automatic updates and faster performance when hitting the "forward" and "back" buttons.

The final version of Firefox 1.5 may be ready as early as a few weeks from now, depending on the feedback received from the approximately 500,000 users, who are testing the browser, Beard said.

Firefox, meanwhile, plans to kick off next year with an aggressive product cycle, Beard said.

"In 2006, we plan to adopt a more aggressive product cycle," Beard said. "Firefox 2 will launch in the midpoint of next year and Firefox 3 will be out in the first quarter of 2007."

The ramped up product cycle will be driven, in part, by the acceleration Firefox has seen in Web services.

Firefox also plans to begin the New Year with scheduled security and stability updates every six to eight weeks.

"While we'll move to scheduled updates, we will, however, respond to critical issues as needed outside of the scheduled windows," Beard said.