Eventually, Google will do something that is an abuse of their monopoly power. Either there will eventually be a privacy/creepiness fiasco, or Google will attempt to use Chrome as leverage to squeeze a competitor out of a market.
When that happens, Mozilla will be well-positioned as an alternative. The path forward in this view would look more like Mozilla as a constellation of disaffected companies and users attempting to free themselves from Google. It won't look like Mozilla on the side doing something by itself. We will largely be defined in opposition to Google.
The article correctly points out that a wiser Microsoft could have gotten a head-start on this inevitability by partnering with us early.
Basically you can't create a revolution in tech by failing once and then trying harder the second time and it looks like Mozilla failed even while being better. The only way for Mozilla to win is (like linked article suggests) is to dominate somewhere else and then leverage that to push web browser. They won't do this and don't want to really.
PS: maybe they could buy/merge with other privacy oriented players in tech and create end-to-end privacy services that are usable, seemingly secure and integrated and then push this offering. But I can't see a big market today for this offer if it would exist.
PPS: also to add to less known evil moves by Google - their U2F websites refuse to work in Firefox, despite it supporting U2F for a long time.
Do people actually like AMP?
I hate it and strongly wish I could disable it for all Google search results. It's supposed to make pages load in more quickly, but for some reason they always seem to be slower for me.
Which makes me think it's just confirmation bias. They expect it to be faster, and so perceive it as faster. Just like when Windows Vista was presented to users as the new Windows 7 (only the branding was changed for the experiment), and they openly stated it was noticeably better/faster than Windows Vista.
Google is certainly capable of making mistakes, but I find it hard to believe they would invest so much into AMP without strong metrics to indicate that AMP pages load faster overall. And on a theoretical level, the explanations of why AMP should be faster also make sense.
The one that still sticks in my craw is that they never bothered to add support for Hangouts in Firefox. Hangouts was modified to use WebRTC in Chrome, but relied on a plugin in Firefox--despite Firefox actually implementing the relevant WebRTC features first.
I've maintained a timeline of Hangouts' WebRTC support (as part of my work to track the sunsetting of NPAPI plugins, other than Flash, in Firefox that blocked Win64):
I had to bookmark a Hangouts room URL though, which I think I opened from within GMail some time ago. If I try to just load hangouts.google.com, it won't work.
I won't even link to the discussion in Chrome's bugtracker, Chrome team didn't even test the change, apparently.
They also actively build "Chrome-only" websites.
The change broke a ton of neat, interesting games that are never going to be updated. And given Google's aggressive autoupdates, running an older version of Chrome to experience a specific old website is non-trivial.
The change signals a blatant disregard for preserving pieces of art, culture, and shared history.
Not by promoting google as better but by simply promoting a view of google-web and other-web.
This is one of Mozilla's problems: they constantly advertise privacy, etc. and while I agree their views in general, most users don't care. If you position yourself as the privacy respecting web browser, you will only ever get the tiny niche of people who care and everyone else who sees your marketing will just roll their eyes and makes jokes about tinfoil hats. That's not to say that Mozilla should do all the anti-competitive things Google does, just that they need to stop advertising themselves this way if they ever want to get any reasonable market share back (unless they want to be a niche browser for people who don't like Google, which is fine if that's all they want to do).
That being said, I don't see how any amount of marketing can fix Mozilla's problem for the same reasons the article pointed out.
I could see a similar approach working again. Mozilla could focus on user-centric features, while Chrome has to also serve the needs of Google's business interests.
I believe it was originally called Phoenix. Though you're right it was then called Firebird and renamed again to Firefox afterwards.
I think each time was due to trademark disputes?
Going to your point though, I hope you're right but I'm a bit more sceptical. Chromium, being open source, means anyone who doesn't like the stagnation of Chrome would just fork Blink and create their own modern browser while still enforcing the Chrome mono-culture.
I'd love to see Gecko take off in the same way kHTML, webkit and blink have done. In fact I'm surprised it hasn't. I don't suppose anyone more familiarity with the code base of these rendering engines are able to offer possible reasons why?
Not familiar with the code base of the engines, but one factor that distinguishes Gecko vs. the other engines is that Mozilla killed the ability to embed Gecko in other applications in 2011. Read about the detailed reasoning in this mailing list thread.  This effectively tied Gecko solely to Firefox, and has made using it with other applications or browser chrome (lowercase, not Chrome the browser) impossible (AFAIK). So it cannot take off like the other engines unless Mozilla puts in work to allow that to happen.
When Firefox decided to attack the problem of market share with engineering, 2 things were happening (almost) at the same time: 1) the deprecation of the old add-on engine and 2) the introduction of the new Quantum engine.
For the 1), while I understand there are some reasons in doing so (it was not a stable API as it was always breaking the extensions and security-wise), I think these problems could be managed. On the other hand, there were lots of good add-on depended on this API.
Particularly, even when Firefox was behind technically-speaking, that was the main reason I used it. Firefox replaced the old API without offering all the new interfaces with the new API. So, I lost what made Firefox really unique.
For the 2), I think it was a consequence for the 1). Firefox was finally "better" with Quantum. Of course everyone likes a responsible browser, but I actually didn't see that much difference. And there was another browser which was already really good: Chrome.
Suddenly, there was no real advantage in using Firefox anymore. Someone my say privacy. But in some corners of the Internet, it's already impossible to navigate without some privacy-wise add-on/extension, which usually work on both browsers.
Added to these, if you go deep down, security-wise there are some real technical advantages in running Chrome instead of Firefox in some OSs. For instance:
 I'm pretty sure a lot of other things were happening, but I'm in the perspective of the user here.
Same here. The only difference I noticed was startup speed when restoring 200+ tabs; that was indeed far faster in Quantum, but I never noticed any other speed improvements. And it was something I only encountered once every couple of weeks anyway.
But the majority of users rarely open more than a few.
Firefox will need to continue iterate, until it is as fast or even faster in every corner.
(I do use The Great Discarder, but did so before switching to Firefox, too.)
One big aspect of traditional web is searching, and that's where Google built their empire originally. Why not invert that equation and build search and discoverability into federated platforms. Perhaps extend ActivityPub, or create a sister protocol that focuses on searching. This approach would address the problem of discoverability much better than an external search engine. Perhaps Mozilla could help come up with such a standard.
Looking at the Financial Report for 2017 https://assets.mozilla.net/annualreport/2017/mozilla-fdn-201...
it seems that the the vast majority of Mozilla revenue is from Royalties ($539M out of $562M). In addition in the report there is a statement to the effect that 93% of Royalties were from search engine deals. We know that Mozilla entered into a search engine deal with Google at the end of 2017.
It looks like that the vast majority of Mozilla's revenue is from Google and will be for the next several years at least. It will be interesting to see Mozilla positioning themselves in opposition to Google when Google provides the vast majority of their revenue.
Thanks for commenting in the open from Mozilla's perspective, even if its just one voice, it's much appreciated.
I agree that Firefox will remain an attraction to the group of people caring about openness, standards, and their privacy. My deepest concern is on how small that group is going to be. Will it settle at the current ~10%, or will it be as low as 5%, which I consider very dangerous grounds to be in.
As for Google's abuse of market power, I strongly believe it has already happened, in plain view. There's no doubt in my mind that dominance in one market has been used to capture another market. We don't have to wait for that "mistake", it has already happened.
These abuses are already under investigation, but I'm afraid it won't change the outcome. They'll pay some fine in a few years, but none of the browsers will be uninstalled.
It won't matter much, but added an update to the top of the article suggesting people to install Firefox.
> When that happens, Mozilla will be well-positioned as an alternative.
I hope you're right, but my main concern is that this could be a war of attrition: Google has such deep pockets that they can simply play nice, all the while testing the limits of what users will accept, until Mozilla taps out. And once that happens, all bets are off.
However, that made me think about Brave (https://brave.com/). What are your thoughts about it? It's also privacy oriented, but it's actually built on top of Chromium. What is even more interesting, Brave was founded by Brendan Eich (the co-founder of Mozilla).
Is this what you're against, or has Brave done something else that deserves being dismissive of them?
Without hitting a paywall that can't be worked around, hell will freeze over before that happens ;-)
Brave adds wealth by pricing users back in from the start (via a genesis block of tokens we give to users and referring creators), and by blocking inefficient, dangerous intermediaries (cut out the middlemen, as Marx said) for a much more efficient market.
Those intermediaries are the _grands rentiers_ today, and yet all but Google, Facebook, Criteo, Amazon, and a few others are dying. Ad/tracker-blocking is a user right but it alone cannot explain the walking death of most intermediaries in the Lumascape.
Rather, too many intermediaries arbitrage and abuse data. This induces not only the ongoing rise of ad/tracker blocking by users -- it cuts off residual revenue to publishers (who make <40% off of programmatic ads in practice, sometimes <20%), who also want fewer hands in the till. Arbitrage always goes away (till next opportunity). The data misuse causes ongoing rifts and scandals. GDPR and laws like it are icing on the cake.
If you are party to the existing Lumascape of ad-tech vendors, your post is projection and I suggest looking honestly in a mirror to see "rent-seeking". If you're calling Brave rent-seeking out of some irrational animus, take a closer look at the product itself, and let's reason together.
I don’t really love the browser and wish the Brave protocol was available for Firefox, but hopefully we can get there sometime in the future.
In the end though, I don't think we'll see a shift to people paying for their content. Societal problems arising from lack of privacy is one of those high-impact-low-probability-or-slow-to-come risks that the public is so bad at handling for their greater aggregate benefit.
To really see a change, if Brave has done their part, what'd be missing would be a general public education program that would better inform the public of what the risks are and what can be done about it. Something like Smokey Bear.
This feels like a false dilemma to me. Many, if not most, of the corners of the web that are devoted to disseminating knowledge are funded by means that don't involve tracking ads.
It's the entertainment corner of the web - social media, yes, but I include listicle-oriented versions of journalism here, too - that seems to be the primary engine of all this surveillance capitalism.
It's no coincidence that they also have a tendency to actively exploit the parts of human psychology that make us susceptible to addiction. Which means that, while it's true that they don't charge an up-front fee, their products do still come at a price.
EDIT: Thought of one: YouTube. I wonder, though, if the content providers I've learned most from in YouTube would have chosen not to provide if there weren't advertising options. Maybe they activate advertising because it's easy and would have uploaded regardless?
EDIT 2: The real question, though, would be if someone would be willing to make a YouTube alternative and eat the cost of development and maintenance of the site and hosting of those videos for altruistic reasons... It's a lot more costly than hosting a site that serves lightweight text.
I'll even click on those ads if I'm interested (crazy, right?), which is something I scrupulously avoid doing for ads that I suspect are fueled by tracking.
Yeah, but I get the feeling that it didn't start with the purpose of advertising. Haven't really looked into its history to know for sure, though.
> I'm not really opposed to topical advertising. And I'm not even particularly opposed to targeting. Showing ads for Databricks alongside a Stack Overflow question about Apache Spark is fine by me (just so long as it isn't a popup or an auto-playing video). That's no creepier than advertising car stuff in a car magazine.
I wouldn't be opposed to tracking if that's all it ever amounted to, either. In fact, your example doesn't seem to involve tracking. Deciding what to show based on the content of the page doesn't imply using any knowledge of you from other sources.
EDIT: Anyway, what's worrying of tracking is that it makes the buying and selling of personal information a viable and profitable business. It's not worrying if you think that such a business can only be used for showing ads you're interested in everywhere you go. In fact, that's a benefit to anybody, and that's what makes it a good public justification for it by the companies that do this tracking.
However, that's not the only way people can apply your personal information. For example, businesses can also use it to personalize the prices for the products and services they offer based on indicators they bought of your purchasing power. Insurance companies can use a lot more than indicators of your purchasing power to know how to quote you, probably getting their hands on knowledge that by law they probably shouldn't be able to get their hands on to avoid unfair discrimination. There's regulations of what businesses can ask of employee candidates to avoid unfair discrimination, but they won't need to ask anymore if they can just buy the info online.
If not, how can be anything based on webkit considered to be safe, privacy oriented etc?
Anyway, in general my line is that all "modern browsers" must die, because browsers should be browsers, not "platforms" and websites should be hypertext, not application... I really dream a modern Plan9 even if I know nobody with enough competence, time and money to develop something like that exists today. I only can hope that a scandal and a disaster at a time we start to be tired, damaged and threatened enough that we support something like GNU/FSF to a level that produce free software and open hardware can be done by a community for the community itself... Well... A bit utopic...
Do you know the history of Blink? It was forked from Webkit, which was forked from KDE's KHTML and remained open source all the way. So you argument also explains to Blink.
At that time, there was still a hot three-way race between Chrome, Firefox, and IE. But Mozilla made a misstep: they decided that, to compete with Chrome, they would adopt a new "Rapid Release" model. This resulted in a massively pissed-off base of former supporters and articles like "Rapid-release Firefox meets corporate backlash"  and "Understanding the Corporate Impact" . There were multiple discussions with titles like, "Mozilla Executive: We're Not Interested In Enterprise Level Users", and it was still going on a year later with, "Everybody Hates Firefox Updates" .
People have been conditioned now to accept frequent updates, and -- years later -- the browser vendors have mostly stopped reskinning their interface every other release. But that wasn't the situation at the time, and so Firefox gave up their one competitive advantage over Chrome, and leveled the playing field in Chrome's favor.
Mozilla could have instead embraced that big, loyal enterprise base, and found a sane middle road for updates that allowed them to keep a healthy release schedule for DOM, JS, and CSS support. But, they didn't.
So all of that good will that Mozilla had fostered over the years just evaporated, and Mozilla never looked back.
(It didn't help that, just after alienating their enterprise user base, Mozilla also kicked off some drama with a developer .)
This falls into that category of mistakes-that-kill-your-business-years-later, alongside other case studies like Sears and RadioShack.
They did recently. They force signed and associated every user to the Chrome identity, thereby linking everything users do in the web to their Google ID. Nobody seems to have bothered.
Honestly, the only reason I use Firefox is because it supports vertical tabs and Chrome doesn't. Maybe you should start advertising features that are more immediately visible than privacy.
I don’t like Chrome’s dominance either, but what do you want me to do if your browser does not support a feature I use everyday, multiple times a day (and that was there but was removed, back in version 3)? You’re giving me a browser that is useless for my needs, so I can’t use it.
You bet I’m thinking of leaving Chrome behind (and will likely do so once I make a clean install to Mojave, that should happen soon) but my only real alternative is Safari. I’d rather that alternative be Firefox, but it isn’t. I rely on browser AppleScript control so heavily, I’d sooner stop using a web browser than switch to Firefox.
And if you think I’m alone in that, there’s a chunk of the macOS automators community you’re not visiting. We build our tools with support for major browsers (and some minor) but never Firefox, because it can’t do it. We don’t even mention it anymore. If someone asks why our tools don’t work on Firefox, we answer that it’s because you don’t support the necessary feature. The number of people asking is lower every year.
Every time there’s a Firefox thread on HN, you see the same complaints from macOS users: poor performance, missing features (I’ve seen lackluster Keychain support also mentioned).
Give me a browser I can use, and I will.
P.S.: Even if I could code enough to add what I need, it’s not even clear to me from your bug tracker if you’d take the addition. Last I looked, I couldn’t even decipher if AppleScript support is something desirable or not.
Servo/Quantum is cool, but it seems to be too late for that. I'm worried that Mozilla is simply in denial about this and when reality sets in course correction will be significantly more painful.
This matters because, on-the-whole, Mozilla's dev teams tend to be much better at writing standards than Google's are; partially because many of the standards Chromium focuses on are prioritized and developed with the intention of being helpful to Google's long-term strategies. There have been multiple instances (html imports spring to mind) where bad decisions were averted purely because Mozilla had the guts to say, "we're not putting that in Firefox, come back when you have a better proposal."
Yes, Chromium is Open Source, but Open Source isn't magic. It's still very much a Google product, designed to increase Google's overall influence over the direction of the web. Unless Mozilla's plan is to literally fork Blink, then having a primarily for-profit mono-culture in charge of what features get fast-tracked and prioritized for browsers is still incredibly harmful.
You're right that Open Source does allow us to reverse course and fork Blink later if something terrible happens. Remember though, the moment that someone like Mozilla or Microsoft makes a fork, at that point they're back to the same situation that they're in right now -- even worse, because they're stuck using a codebase that wasn't architectured specifically to meet their goals. That provides a big incentive to wait as long as possible before deciding, "heck it, we'll build our own engine."
What I would suggest is that there are at this moment already at least minor organizational issues within Chromium, and there are currently benefits to having multiple browser engines. We could give up those benefits and get them back later if stuff got really bad. But it would mean waiting until things got really bad; and ignoring all of the tiny, daily decisions before that point that go in to setting the direction of the web.
Remember that the web isn't supposed to break backwards compatibility. If you don't get things right the first time, there isn't a second chance to change them.
And actually it is better for innovation not to use to Blink. WebRender is potentially much more performant than any other engine and it would never had existed if Mozilla were just aligning with Blink
It's not like the other Blink or Chrome based browsers are doing great, sure Brave and Vivaldi is getting some press, but they have even less users than Firefox.
Sadly Firefox isn't peoples mind anymore when they think browser. It's IE all over again, but with Chrome, Only Chrome is moving forward. I don't know if there's anything Firefox can do, other than marketing. It's currently the best browser out there, but that was the case when IE6 dominated the web as well.
Firefox doesn't need to dominate, but hitting some like 20% market share would be fantastic.
This isn't directly relevant in the larger context of this thread, but Firefox's sharp drop—even after the introduction of Quantum, which I've found to be a big improvement—is what makes their situation much more scary to me.
Perhaps if it ever comes to that, people will look to an alternative means (than the web) of accessing documents and code.
I think most people just don't care, and just use what the system provides. As Google gets more invasive and evil, I hope that people will start to care, and Firefox and other browsers start to flourish again.
Like the article said: no one cares (more or less) about how good the browser is. If you have to go install a new browser, that's more work than just using the builtin one, and Google can force every Android phone to install Chrome out of the box.
Also, though I use Firefox mobile out of a desire to not be a part of the Chrome problem (even though I know it's useless and I'm not actually helping by doing so), it's not fast, and it's not nice to use. It's painfully slow, crashes much more frequently than the other browsers, has confusing settings and constantly promotes garbage like Pocket (which you can disable if you dig through the confusing settings, but you can't actually uninstall it), etc.
Until Mozilla gets the performance problems under control (and they're finally attempting to do this with Quantum et al.) they won't stop the bleeding. Unfortuantely, stopping the bleeding is the easy part: getting new users is the hard part and I tend to agree with the article that they don't have a way to do that on mobile (though I know nothing about marketing, so hopefully I'm wrong and just spouting nonsense here).
Performance is 1/2 of the reason that I prefer Mozilla. As one of those people that typically has 50-100 tabs open, the Firefox model for memory management is vastly superior.
The other half of the reason is TreeStyleTab, again because I'm one of those zillion-tab users. Vertically-stacked tabs in a sidebar is the only way to manage that mountain of tabs - horizontal at the top just doesn't work. And Chrome doesn't have any extensions that support this.
So you're suggesting that Firefox actually performs better now? Maybe all my coworkers complaining about it are just repeating lore that no longer exists?
Many tabs aside though, I still have a lot of performance problems with Firefox (although it's getting better; Quantum was fantastic, I was getting really fed up with Firefox for a while before that).
If you have hundreds of tabs in Chrome, you'd have hundreds of processes. In this case, Firefox used to perform much better with lots of tabs because it didn't spin up a process for each one. The downside of this model is that a crash would take down all your tabs in Firefox rather than a single tab in Chrome. Of course, now Firefox is also multi-process.
I can never have hundreds of tabs open in Chrome because the UI just doesn't handle that nicely. In Firefox I use multi-row tabs and can comfortably have 40 tabs open without issue.
But for me, it's easy to test. Go to http://addic7ed.com/ and open the (very long, nearly 5k entries)
[Select a TV Show] drop-down. On FF (and IE/Edge FWIW) there is a noticeable delay in opening. I'd say 200-400ms. On Chrome it opens instantly.
Next, have something playing that consumes decent amounts of CPU in a tab. I used twitch. Then go somewhere and rapidly open new links (I middle-clicked around on Wikipedia). After about 10 tabs, FF starts slowing down (opening tabs that look like blank tabs and only starting to load after a delay) and possibly interrupts playback in the background tab. IE/Edge are even worse and will start opening tabs slower than you click and keep opening for a while after you are done. In Chrome on the other hand, everything is instant.
I'm on Windows 10 and everything is up to date. I'd love for someone to tell me that it's different for them.
Also, it's a pretty weird test case to compare performance, probably not related to anything that actually matters. What's more, Firefox tries to style the drop-down to match with the system UI, while Chrome doesn't even bother.
I specifically said that I can see it being a problem in low ram cases.
> Also, it's a pretty weird test case to compare performance, probably not related to anything that actually matters.
This is not some random benchmarks. Both of these problems are things that I regularly encounter on actual websites. And it's great that FF styles it, but I'd rather have performance than system appropriate dropdowns.
In contrast, Firefox pools those processes. I currently have 56 tabs open, but only 6 Firefox processes running, consuming a total of 1.7GB. So for example, there is (AIUI) just one single process that's responsible for all rendering behavior. I don't have the same detailed information about how much resources that HelloWorld page is taking, but it feels more efficient to me.
I liked firefox on mobile for ability to use addons. But with some update it started being totally unresponsive and crashing my phone, so I switched back to chrome which happily displays ":)" with 100+ tabs open.
On mac firefox is eating battery faster than chrome.
I would like some alternative for phone - so I will maybe try vivaldi or brave or test firefox once again.
If you're on a Mac and want better battery life when web browsing, Safari will do better than both Firefox and Chrome in most cases.
(edit: tweaked to clarify)
edit 2: using Firefox on mobile (Android) too, for ~2 years now (i.e., since I have a smartphone), cannot recall a single crash over that timeframe either.
I particularly love the possibility of opening multiple links at once in the background, and buffering them until I switch to the Firefox app.
Ever used chrome or some other browser on android? The droidfox is quite infamous for it's slowness and backward interface.
No difference that maybe you can perceive, but I for one find the scrolling a lot more sluggish on FF than on Chrome, and that's on a SD 845 device, which is the latest and supposedly greatest Qualcomm chip. I just can't use FF on Android, and that's a shame because the desktop version is very good.
My phone isn't even some flagship. It's an OP3T, and it copes very well with FF.
Compounding the pity, Firefox used to have a more secure auth system, which they threw away. I'm still appalled by that.
I would accept running my own server for Sync as a solution and I believe this was even possible with the old system? Then power users could have that extra layer of security if they desired but regular users don't have to worry so much.
As an aside, I don't see that user key management was really an issue. The UI of the old system was perfectly fine, and one could have added a QR code or similar if one really wanted to. The number of folks doing TOTP auth these days prove that it works.
Firefox has never been bundled with a mainstream OS, mobile or desktop, as far as I know, it's always been something that people sought out. I think since you can install it on Android, if it's any good it has a chance of success.
I basically went through the same thinking process myself. I'm a moderate idealist and would like Firefox to succeed because it's important for the web that there's no monopoly. However, my realist soul tells me that Firefox is losing badly and it's hard to tell where it's going to end. It's a pity that Microsoft didn't choose Gecko – I wonder if they even seriously considered it.
With Microsoft joining Chromium, we're slowly entering a duopoly of WebKit and Chromium. It's still a much better situation than the dark IE6 times. However, it's hard to tell whether WebKit (AFAIU, supported mainly by Apple and Samsung) will keep up with Chromium (Google and Microsoft) in a long term. I'm afraid that it will look like a Cold War's arms race – one of the parties will invest so much that the other will just lose economically (not being able to afford that many developers). Such economical wars make developers happy, because the web progresses very fast, but I think it actually leads to a monopoly.
Anyway, I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for Gecko. They do a great job there and perhaps will be able to partner with a big enough company to keep its pace and market share.
Given all the "Safari is the new IE6" posts that have been here over the past few years, that seems to be already happening.
Apple is lagging behind quite a bit with implementing newer web standards, especially in areas where they have anticompetitive interest in doing so (PWAs cannibalising native apps). Of course, they're the only game in town on iOS, so that ensures them some captive market.
From my own experience, making the app I'm working on (CKEditor 5 - a web based rich-text editor) compatible with mobile Safari is right now impossible. None of the RTEs work well in mobile Safari because of its quirks and bugs.
If Apple will overdo this (just like Microsoft did with IE6), that may affect iOS's usefulness. Sure, right now you can't build a business without your presence there, but there may be a breaking point. It's hard to imagine and I kinda doubt it will happen (I rather agree with the author of this article that Apple will invest enough to keep Safari alive), but it's a possibility. Microsoft screwed it up once, so can Apple.
It's a large, sprawling project to make a good OS. Especially when the language of choice to run on it changes with such haste.
Hopefully this nth re-imagining of dumb terminals dies off over the next few years and applications go back to the OS where they belong. Otherwise thing are going to get rough.
The whole thing is far far more secure than running native apps on Windows, MacOS, or Linux, they're arguably far more secure than Android and maybe more secure than iOS.
In other words, they aren't just an OS, they're a secure OS. Something most OSes don't give me.
Additionally, it promotes the software as a service milking of fees and online only access. It prevents end users from ever being able to tell what code is going to be run on this computer since it changes on a whim. No hash checking of binaries is going to help you here.
There's no doubt browsers are supremely complex, amazing things. But that isn't good.
They can just add something like require('fs').readFileSync(process.env.HOME + '/.ssh/id_rsa').toString() and send this to their servers, and you won't even notice that (since it doesn't require an update on client because the client is just a browser with full permissions that loads obfuscated code from their servers every time you launch it).
And with both remaining big browsers dev group announcing they'll be adding greatly expanded filesystem access to browsers for normal websites this will likely apply there too.
The re-trending of the local application is a step back in this regard. And "when will this internet fad die off so we can return to native applications" throws a lot of baby out.
Mozilla is one of the few tech companies that care about the well-being of its users. In my opinion that is very special.
By developer, do you mean web developer?
I tried to use Chrome dev tools, and they were incredibly easy to pick up; however whenever I try to use Firefox dev tools, they feel embarrassingly awkward. Perhaps it's just the familiarity with the tools (and if so, I am very curious to hear whether you prefer Firefox dev tools over Chrome's), but have a nagging feeling that it's just an inferior developer tool.
It was delightful when auditing the experiences from a potential new client in Firefox Dev Tools the other day, and realizing that I could see, inline to the target DOM element, JS events tied to them while looking through the source. Saved me a good amount of time.
When I'm looking for pure-play performance auditing, Lighthouse integrated into Chrome's Dev Tools are an obvious win.
So yeah, each have their strengths and weaknesses.
Just tried that, and wow, that's really cool!
Sad to see it not gaining market share. That being said, there is a way for it to pick up steam. It would just require a new platform to come a long (probably competing with Google) to use FireFox
I really want to like it; firefox has for a decade been my browser of choice on the desktop because of add-on support (which unfortunately got much worse with WebExtensions).
The one area it's historically been behind on (progressive web apps) is the reason it gets knocked by people who care primarily about progressive web apps. Personally I'm more interested in the web primarily as a visual interface communications medium, and so in that sense, I'm actually against a number of decisions Google has made in its development of Chromium over the past few years (because Google has also prioritized PWA over other use cases for the web).
Anyway, if you don't care for Safari, that's your jam, but to state objectively that Safari is mediocre and Chrome is much better is simply unjustifiable and reveals the bias of the author.
I'm not saying you're wrong - opinions about usability have some subjectivity - but the opinion that Safari is an `excellent` browser are a small minority.
I'm not a Safari user, but for owners of Apple laptops battery life should be a big one. It's my impression that Safari is significantly more efficient when it comes to energy consumption.
>> "For developers, it’s one less browser engine to worry about"
>> "For the open web: it’s complicated. If I were to put on the hat of a pragmatic developer, I fail to see the big gain in having competing browser engines."
The author does not understand web standards and probably doesn't remember IExplorer's monopoly and the era of "works best in IExplorer" websites. And what fewer and fewer people remember is that IExplorer 5 was the best browser of its generation, the Chrome of its days.
And actually I fail to see what this article is doing on HN. Surely there must be better rants around.
Besides, the main point is that the UGLY reality is that the only relevant browser/engine is Chrome.
That's when IE 6 sucked, and we all had to live with that suckiness for years on end because of microsofts insane backwards compatibility policies keeping deprecated software alive on life support.
Even Microsoft has a IE6 countdown timer now https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/ie6coun...
IE6 was an unfathomably damaging disaster for the web.
Suffocating progress with monopoly abuse is not a good platform for claiming to have the "best" browser...
As a dev there are so many features missing from iOS WebKit and because iOS has such a huge market share I'm basically forced to design without those features.
I don't personally see the issue with one browser engine. It can be skinned differently and different features can be enabled or disabled. More people from more companies can contribute to the same basic engine. Kind of like so many Linux distros contribute to the same basic kernel.
People can disagree all they want about SSL interception in a corporate environment (for good reason), but it's here to stay. When a corporate user downloads Firefox, tries to simply go to Google and gets a cert error page, they're just going to go back to Chrome because the process of exporting your company's CA cert and then importing it into Firefox so you can use the browser is just simply not feasible for most users.
My experience has been that most desktop IT teams don't have the resources to fine-tune browser configs on endpoints around things like corporate web filtering proxies so they just jam the cert in the OS store and call it a day. You can use Chrome, IE, or Firefox if you know how to get and import the cert (which most users do not). Sometimes users would submit tickets saying they wanted to use Firefox but couldn't get to any web pages, to which the IT team would reply "We don't support Firefox, use Chrome or IE" and that was that.
That's pretty sad, considering the fact it's the only mobile browser not only with the support of extensions, but the same extensions as the desktop version.
Future might not be that grim for mobile Firefox actually, with more and more modern Android smartphones and tablets support more and more RAM, and 4GB is pretty much standard.
Microsoft has done us no favors today.
That is a poorly drawn conclusion. Edge is compatible with the web. Developers are solely developing for Chrome and not caring for cross browser testing. As a Firefox user I sometimes encounter this myself.
"Compatible with the web" in the context of this article means compatible with the web that is primarily built to work on Chromium/Webkit. Because at this point of time, the web is Chromium.
You're right that Edge is compatible with web standards, albeit that they are lagging a bit behind in implementing newer standards. By that logic, IE11 is also compatible with web standards.
The true spirit of Internet Explorer lives on!
Instead of implementing every single iteration of Web Standard that Google dished out, kill it and rework much like all of their products, Safari decide to pick it up once everything has been stabilise.
Instead of trying to turn everything on the Web as Web App and give everything on the computer a Web API, they have been perfecting the Web Pages. ( Which in terms of publishing standard is still far from perfect )
As long as this is the case, the web standards process is still working much as it always has. Apple and Firefox still have a veto.
At Mozilla we say that we have a different reason to strive for marketshare than most companies in the world. We need it to have a seat at the table.
Disclaimer: I work on Firefox, but read the blink-dev list fairly regularly; the last sentence above is repeated pretty often on that list.
(I'm no expert, but to me it seems impressively bureaucratic.)
Actual size of those project is so big that practically no one, their devs included, can know the entire big picture, there are so any day new critical security vulnerabilities and a constant refrain, repeated following the nazi Goebbels principles of "repeat a lie enough and it became reality", that desktop is dead and the sole possible evolution are those monsters and, of course, "the cloud", because "we need integration and the sole really integrated platforms are cloud and mobile" and other classic marketing phrases.
Unfortunately, as with physical cancers, he are in the process of succumb. And even worse there are many people happy with that, like few crazy individual happy to have AIDS "so they know that they can get nothing worse STM and they feel free"... Or like south Koreans that pay a "prison hotel" to "free them for daily life"...
I think a ~60g rifle cartridge charged with salt and a small forest can be a good playground, only I fear we may run out of salt...
Which can be seen as the best and worst of both world at the same time. For sure we live in interesting times.
The few things preventing me seems small, but have made the transition unfriendly and/or tedious.
1. Chromium "Multiple Users" feature allows me to separate business and personal life very conveniently. Now that I have this feature, I cannot give it up. It seems Firefox has this functionality, but it's difficult to use without additional extensions and "Import from Chrome" doesn't support it.
2. 1Password and other extensions I use on a daily basis have inconvenient drawbacks on Firefox. For example, 1Password dropdown does not show in form fields like it does in Chromium.
3. Firefox UX still feels... meh. The ugly dotted focus ring around any link I click stands as a good example. I don't see any preference to turn it off. Menu navigation... there's no submenu peeking-- you have to click in then click back. The whole browser feels jerky compared to Chrome.
It's easier and more pleasant for me to ignore Chrome's lack of privacy and forget about Firefox.
I think Mozilla should give some serious thought and focus on making it incredibly easy and smooth to switch to Firefox.
But FireFox-with-blockers is in a class by itself in terms of speed and usability on both desktop and mobile.
Most of the things that work on Chrome but not Firefox end up being blocked and I don't even notice they're gone.
The recent change to make tracker blocking default in FireFox gives me hope.
Discussion question - what incentives need to change to make Apple invest more in Safari? They've always been invested in native apps first and foremost, because that's where they make their money - the app stores.
The other place they make their money is hardware. And it's hard to say you buy a MacBook or iPhone because of safari. You don't.
So I just don't know what it will take for Apple to make significant investments in the web. Whereas Google makes all their money on the web.
Apple also just prioritizes different things in WebKit than Google does with Blink. Where Apple implements energy saver and privacy protection features, Google implements whizz-bang bells and whistles to keep the attention of front end web developers.
I have a straightforward answer. Build incredible PWAs that users will miss out on on iOS, because it has partial support at best. You'd still serve 80% of the market.
I'll admit its a theoretical answer, as most commercial organization would not risk losing out on iOS users. They're not the biggest group of users, yet some of the most valuable groups of users, commercially speaking.
Their so called "Tracking Protection" is nothing more then a gimmick. It can be bypassed easily using methods other then cookies. All it did was reduce the revenue from ads because of no cookies (the legitimate way to track id's). It did an insignificant harm to Google. But it reduced the revenue from Firefox users by a huge percentage for publishers.
Firefox is losing because it favors the wrong demographics. Firefox offers nothing much exclusive to users and neither to developers. Most people using ad blockers, use Firefox on mobile.
Sad to see it the way it is. Safari did the same. But the market share is still relevant, but it is declining as well. Once it reaches a certain point, no one will bother to test for it either.
DNT was a shit show. DNT should have always required manual user intervention to be respected.
Google's interests apart from their AMP project aligns with the publishers. If we win, they win.
I'd say it's working perfectly, then. Maybe it is your business that is broken.
Sorry but that is nonsense. You should respect the DNT just because you're are receiving it and so being asked not to track.
It's perfectly possible to serve content aware adverts using BATs without the creepy surveillance. You don't need to track so if you're asked to stop, just stop.
It is an ineffectual and passive way to hinder tracking.
Better ways are to be more active: to reject third-party cookies, disallow sites from storing anything, uninstall Flash and such, run AdBlock Plus, run uBlock Origin and so on.
I mean, if I visit a random site which is full of non-original content and/or simple regurgitation of press releases, why should I care about its business model and ability to monetize through tracking me? Sorry, show me value from the get-go and I might come back and let you "monetize" through whitelisting or something.
No one receiving a DNT header can say we didn't know people coming to the site didn't want to be tracked because they hadn't logged in.
It doesn't mater if it's on by default. It should still be respected.
That's different job to blocking trackers or ads.
That a site is ignoring DNT is just a sign that they are run by bad actors. It's no different to logging in to a site, opting out of tracking and the site ignoring that and tracking you secretly anyway.
...or putting some dark pattern UI in front of that option so that it's hard to tell if you've opted out or not.
What sane person would agree to be tracked?
This is the end of days for the open web I'm afraid, and this article lays out the path travelled and road ahead.
I'd be inclined to agree, except, am I the only one who has seen a marked speed advantage in Firefox Quantum over other browsers? I'm reminded of how I felt about Chrome in the early days. Everything just seems to load in ever-so-slightly more quickly.
I still use Safari on macOS due to Apple's nice touchpad gestures, but on Windows I'm now Firefox all the way. Not just because I like what Firefox represents, but because I find the experience markedly superior.
Just doubling down on my statement. I've seen hundreds of discussions and flame wars on browser performance, RAM usage, the ability to keep open 200 tabs.
I mean it when I say that I cannot reproduce any of these differences. Perhaps I could if I would actively measure things, but in terms of just experiencing the speed of all major browsers, I really do not see a meaningful difference.
It could be device related, but I'm on a 6 year old PC (a pretty sizable one though), not having any issues on my mediocre work laptop either.
Doesn't mean it doesn't matter in absolute terms, I'm just saying I don't see it. The more important point though is non-technologist do not tend to pick browsers in such rational ways.
Re: the topic, the author shows clear bias toward Firefox. It might be better to just acknowledge this: the best browser wins on each platform. Period.
Safari is up there because it runs the best/fastest/with least trouble on iPhones and iPads.
20/20 means PERFECT vision. Above that is ‘abnormally good’.
In other words, the author has a clearly biased view, tries to figure out the obvious, and doesn’t ‘agree’ with definitions for words. Right!
"This blog post was tough to read! Seems to have capped out at a 6th grade level."
I'm not a native speaker, and this is the best I can do. I was expecting less than 6th grade, so thanks!
"Re: the topic, the author shows clear bias toward Firefox"
Yes, the article literally says I am biased towards Firefox success. You didn't discover a secret plot or anything.
"It might be better to just acknowledge this: the best browser wins on each platform."
No, the one shipped to user's home screens wins. Even crappy ones.
"20/20 means PERFECT vision. Above that is ‘abnormally good’."
If it would mean perfect, there would not be a level above it. I do agree the statement isn't as clever as I planned it to be.