Sunny Man’s post on the browser wars got me thinking back a few years to the days when Firefox was still Firebird and Internet Explorer 6 ruled the roost. 3 years ago, most people would have laughed if you said that Mozilla would become the dominant browser for the masses again. Firefox isn’t quite there yet, but it’s inevitably going to happen soon. The whole browser ecosystem has changed so much in the last 3 years.
This is my life story and how I’ve been using browsers.
I’ve probably been using the internet for around 6 or 7 years now. I didn’t get on the internet until after Netscape had died, and Internet Explorer was the biggest and best web browser at the time. I remember using Internet Explorer 5.5 for ages because the IE6 upgrade program refused to work.
After getting broadband, I did decide to check out a lot more cool programs and I downloaded Opera 6 at one point to get onto the ICQ network but the browser sucked and had the annoying adverts and the Mozilla Suite which sucked too.
I believe I discovered Firebird in October 2003, just a few days after the release of Firebird 0.7. I remember visiting the website several times before actually being bothered to download it. And at first I wasn’t a big fan of Firebird either. I couldn’t see what it did better than Internet Explorer, and Firebird didn’t work with tons of sites out there.
In those days, Firebird was released as a .zip file rather than an installer. So my copy of Firebird sat there in a folder on my desktop for quite a while.
Strangely enough, the website which got me to open Firebird again was Sourceforge. I had just started a project there and for some reason Internet Explorer 6 gave me a security warning which couldn’t be turned off every single page load. So I begun to use Firebird on the Sourceforge site and Internet Explorer 6 for the rest of the internet.
Firefox: The Early Days
Firebird became Firefox in February 2004. I remember hating the name at first but since then, it’s grown on me. I was still using Internet Explorer 6 at the time Firefox 0.8 came out because there were still things which annoyed me about Firefox – for example you couldn’t right click an image and copy it to the clipboard.
A friend introduced me to extensions and I went crazy with them. I downloaded the extension to copy images to the clipboard, RSS Reader Panel which is now known as Sage, the unofficial Google Toolbar, pie menus, download sidebar and all kinds of weird and wonderful extensions. I loved RSS Reader Panel, it saved me a ton of time.
At the same time, I had become a member of the web standards movement and Gecko was getting a lot of praise for web standards support so I decided to give Firefox a real go. I loved the popup blocking and the extensions, but a lot of the WWW still didn’t work with Firefox. So User Agent Switcher and IE View joined my ensemble of extensions.
And then there’s the Web Developer Toolbar which single-handedly caused me to test my websites in Firefox before testing them in Internet Explorer. I was doing a lot of website developing at the time, so this caused me to use Firefox a lot more.
It was these extensions which made Firefox so attractive to me and they were pretty important back then as Firefox still lacked a lot of the features you want from a modern web browser.
I decided to introduce Firefox to a few friends – one of them decided to switch back to AOL’s browser but most of them made the switch.
But with Firefox 0.8, I finally made the leap and became a Firefox user.
Part 2 coming soon…