It's a coordination thing - coordinating a large group of people is so challenging only simple messages like 'make a profit' get through on average. Simple things with clear metrics.
'Support the open web' has no metrics and is realistically not a comprehensive shared vision a company can rally around. The message that a Chrome-first strategy doesn't support the open web is (1) contestable (2) requires a lot of assumptions.
Anyone who believed or still believes that Google the Corporation is controlled by the engineers employed by Google is in for an eventual rude shock. Anyone who believes a corporation will support the open web for any reason other than it is in their interests to is likewise mistaken.
This is why focusing on capability is more important than focusing on intent, despite what human instinct generally suggests (humans overweight intent). Google is a scary company. They have more power over people than most companies, with the exception of the banks - and look at how the banks are regulated!
 There are also almost certainly individuals/teams in the company who also try to take the path of least resistance and attempt to hobble the competition to help get there. These types exist in every company to varying degrees.
Most of SaaS applications operate in this regime - they own user data, so they become "sticky" and non-substitutable very quickly. On the other hand, standardization of browser features makes browsers not very "sticky". This way, when a SaaS - any SaaS, not just Google's - works much better on Chrome than on Firefox, this drives adoption of Chrome by that much.
If it i make google docs great/dominate, then firefox, and safari are critical. You would ask hard questions and have deep discussions around dropping support for internet explorer. If someone suggested khtml (picking something old and poorly maintained) would work with just a little effort you would have a serious discussion around just how much effort that takes.
If the incentive is to make google great then things are different. Losing a few Firefox users might well be worth it if you can convert a few others from firefox to chrome. You might even go so far as to needlessly break firefox once in a while to drive your incentive.
I don't know how google is setup. I've seen companies setup both ways. There are downsides to both.
Google is an advertising company. The goal of every Google product is to provide the company with more data, to make users give the company more of their data so that data can be mined for more data.
Controlling the browser or OS means having the ultimate access to the users the ads will be shown to. So if a Google app doesn't help harvesting data, it must be used to push the OS or browser. Google allows for a lot of indirection but ultimately if a product neither harvests interesting data nor helps push users to using Google products that do, there's no reason to keep it around.
You can try and blame sales, you can try and blame “innovate or die” but also engineering always shares some blame too. Often it’s engineering who want to exploit shiny new tech or make new shiny thing and not do the inglorious work of maintenance and support.
So now some VP has to make a decision whether to launch the thing to 85% of the users that also are on the companies own browser and support other browsers in the future, or delay everything on that. It tends to go the way that locally makes sense.
Then as engineer what can you do? Either assume toxic Management (and switch Jobs) or do a subset of what you would usually do, and that means optimize for your own browser first and only work on bugs known to your management for the other browsers.
With that said, there is some indication from the outside that the culture is changing. It can be difficult to sustain culture over time, especially in the face of massive success.
Fixed that for you.
No, it's a self-interest thing. Also known as greed, or selfishness. Do you honestly believe that if "being a decent human being" came with a simple metric like money, then companies would deviate one iota from pure profit motive?
Sometimes I wonder if people here are really this naive or if it's a case of "it's very hard to convince a man of something when his salary depends on him no believing it."
> cases where sacrificing immediate personal gains leads to bigger personal gains in the future
As Kaynes once said: "in the long run, we are all dead".
To go beyond this shallow level of morality requires an expansion of the concept of "self". Beware though: this sort of perspective shift might make you unemployable.
That was always the power of 'Don't be evil'. It gave employees official permission, perhaps even requirement to challenge decisions that could at least be thought of as being evil in some way.
It was a shame it was deprecated.
Scroll all the way to the bottom. It's the closing thought, one of the key places to emphasize something.
That's why you can't trust corporations when it comes to anything "open" and "free".
Everyone has to question the stated goals and desires of corporations, and ask things like e.g who is the corporation accountable to (shareholders? themselves?) and how open is the corporation about how it invests its profit. Attempting to turn a profit is in itself not necessarily an indication that everything they do is in the sole pursuit of profit for itself.
How are NGOs and non-profit organizations coordinated then?
The fundamental purpose of any large organization is to preserve itself. Any organization that arises which doesn't have that purpose is eventually replaced by others that do.
> - and look at how the banks are regulated!
And you can view the US Government in a similar fashion, except exchange corporate profits for power. Power is the currency of the US Government, and they will either do nothing, or take an action that furthers their "corporate interest": the increase of power. Regulations serve that role very nicely.
And by the way I see this mistake made all the time, but my spouse is a regulator and here's the dirty secret (well, it's not so secret to astute observers): the bank shills might be going on CNBC or Money Talk radio and go on tropin' about regulations, but they love the regulations. They work with the US Government to create new regulations. Regulations are a wonderful barrier of entry for them. They already have their decades long established regulatory compliance structures in place that would cost billions for the small bank to try and replicate. It helps keep the competition out. It's now a symbiotic relationship. Airwaves are regulated for similar fashion: keep the small broadcasters out, keep the big entrenched players on air and control the message.
If you regulate Google, you will further entrench their position as monopolistic/oligopolistic. You'll create the same situation that you have in banks: only the big have the resources to lobby and comply with complex regulatory overreach.
> finance and banking, cable television, health care, pharmaceuticals, agro-business – are all instances in which the competitive, free market has been interfered with by the paternalistic and regulatory hand of the government. It is not the market that has “failed” in these corners of the economy, but rather it is the presence and pervasiveness of the interventionist state.
> this, too, is typical of market critics such as Professor Stiglitz. They deceptively call “market failures” instances not of competitive free markets but of “crony capitalism” under which special interests have successfully interacted with politicians and bureaucrats to rig the market for their own benefit at the expense of both consumers and potential competitors who are legally prevented or hindered from entering sectors of the economy where they would like to try to gain market share and earn profits by offering better and lower priced goods than their privileged rivals are offering to those consumers.
I feel it is too often we mistake crony capitalism (and address that issue) for "market failures" and then demand that the regulatory hand of the government intervene, which further worsens the situation.
Quotes from https://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/governments-crea...
Making a broader point (not responding to something specifically you said but something I see often come up when discussing regulating Big Tech) -- I am not posting this article to say it is some dogma I 100% agree with, but it does offer a different vision than the leftist dogma that is often offered up by tech liberals as the solution to all their problems.
There are other ways out, and it involves freedom, which is neither easy to achieve nor free. It may hurt to get there, but you cannot complain about the surveillance state and government power and influence on our lives, and then be so willing to hand them more power the moment you feel threatened by the "big evil corp"
Sorry I brain dumped on your innocuous comment about a particular thing, Feel free to tell me "sir this is a Wendys"
The difference is that however flawed or imperfect it might be our government does have a democratic and representative system intended to give us a degree of control over it, and was designed with a series of checks and balances intended to mitigate the potential for abuse of power.
There are no such equivalent mechanisms in private corporations.
To the contrary, you can view the free market as a parallel system of checks and balances where the people have voice and opinion: your wallet. Yes you can actually "vote" with your wallet in a free market.
And unfortunately unlike the free market, where greed of money actually acts as a balancing factor, greed of power is terrible in a democracy, and we have seen the power grabs of our court systems in not only this current regime, but previous ones controlled by democrats as well. Why is the court system so important? Why are senators willing to risk shutting down the government and achieving actually nothing meaningful session after session? Because there is absolute power there. And there is absolute power now in our imperial presidency, started by Bush, continued on by Obama, and now the loaded gun was left for Trump. If we restore power back to congress like the founders intended (and further restore power back to the people by eliminating political gerrymandering) we may return to the situation you describe, but I'll take free markets over the current broken system we have today.
At the end of the day, people have the choice to stop using Google Search, Youtube and use adblock to block Google's Ad networks. Consumers can simply elect to take a different action.
As we can see from the way Microsoft and Oracle failed after milking their customers too aggressively, not to mention the way AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, etc. are begging everyone to come back. Yes, you can no-true-Scotsman a claim about those not being free markets but then you're going to have to bring in the essential role of the government in keeping markets from being dominated by large players.
> At the end of the day, if we all stopped using Google Search, Youtube and everyone used adblock to block Google's Ad networks, Google would be toast. Consumers can simply elect to take a different action.
Don't forget giving up Gmail, Google Docs, etc. “if we all” is technically true but really leaves out the degree of effort that it would take to get any significant fraction of people to switch — consider how effective Microsoft and Yahoo! were at competing with Google in those areas and ask yourself what it would take that they lacked.
Those bookmarks were mine, and Firefox destroyed them without even giving me a chance to opt-out.
I can't use Firefox if it's going to do stuff like that. I use qutebrowser, instead.
Of course standard disclaimers apply. I don’t work for Google, never held Google stock etc.
It's ridiculously slow, to the point of being completely unusable.
A Google engineer claimed here on HN the reason was that the UI framework uses some deprecated API that is polyfilled in Firefox but available on Chrome.
Something like that should never have launched, but may have been a somewhat acceptable reason months ago. Now, after being in production for months, not fixing this is either saying "we don't care about those <10% Firefox users" or straight up intentional to force FF users to switch to Chrome.
Either of those amount to the same thing and classify as malicious to me.
But since Google's engineers are far from stupid, you may have a point.
> Google simply stopped caring about non-Chrome browsers
> we don't care about those <10% Firefox users
Except that GP attributed that to incompetence and you to malice. I guess it's still hard to guess intent :)
It may be like being crushed by an elephant that's rolling over in it's sleep, but you need to wake the elephant up and tell it to sleep somewhere else.
I think he has a reasonable justification for his position (two even):
- Google would have to be very incompetent for it to be incompetence (stated in the article)
- If Mozilla comes around every few weeks "hey guys, you broke it again" it's hard to argue they "don't care" or "don't prioritize" in the sense of "oh, we have so many things to do ..."
You even state it yourself:
"People building say, Inbox were told it was acceptable to launch a product that is only accessible to one browser at launch."
Yeah. That's active malice if your company produces the one browser they choose. Whether you couch it as "simple prioritization" or not.
At the end of the day I still think the competition agencies should have thrown the law book at Google so hard that it bleeds. Start with a few billion and go up from there. Google had (has) a virtual search monopoly and actively used it to promote their browser. At least in the EU that's illegal. And that the agencies didn't kick Googles ass for it is for me one of their biggest regulation failures.
Everyone in the abstract would like to make accessible websites. Some people at Google are really passionate about accessibility and advocate for it, while others don't know as much about it or overlook it when building their product. There's surely some organization-level guidelines like "make sure your product is accessible before launch" that have likely changed over time as different people in power have prioritized different things, and with uneven enforcement when it comes time to launch a given product a given team will make a random judgement call as to whether to delay their launch or cut some other feature in order to make the product accessible. (Inevitably someone will protest here with "it's not that hard to make an accessible product, just do X Y Z and test configuration Q, and it's really important". That is true but doesn't change the reality that it has a cost that takes away from other work.)
Now substitute "Firefox compat" for "accessible" in the above and it all still applies pretty much perfectly.
I don't believe there's an anti-Firefox (or anti-accessibility) conspiracy at Google, but rather just that Firefox/a11y compat is not a hard blocker for launches. The net effect is the same, of course, in that it's as if every product somehow discovers a way to break a11y/Firefox, but it's actually just how entropy works -- unless you're continuously watching out for and verifying your a11y/Firefox it's inevitable you'll break it.
(disclaimer: I worked on Chrome but I wouldn't know either way if there is any higher-level conspiracy; as an engineer who has built multiple products in different orgs I have seen a general lack of specific guidelines/requirements for a11y/Firefox)
And plenty of developers test on IE and Chrome and Safari For iOS and call it a day.
Its very much not obvious that this is a deliberate decision and not an omission.
Personally I'm surprised by Google's attitude to a11y/Firefox because all their products have millions of users. 10% doesn't sound like much, but 10% (Firefox market share) of 50 million is more than the population of many countries.
I guess they rationalise it by saying "our product is new, with 0 users right now. Let's focus on the largest segments of users (Chrome, non-a11y) and ship an MVP. If it sticks, let's expand to Firefox, do the a11y work etc." If I was in that PM's shoes, this makes sense to me. As a user ... it feels wrong.
If you just chase money all the time, you always end up with shoddy crap — there's no incentive to be any better than barely adequate, so you're constantly riding that line.
We only end up with nice things when someone dedicates time and effort _despite_ market forces. Mediocre businesses and their besuited human avatars spend so much time insisting they're “passionate” because even _they_ know that giving a shit is the only way you get anything other than crap.
Market share, across all platforms, is closer to:
* Chrome: 60%
* Safari 20%
* Firefox: 5%
* IE: 5%
* Edge: 2%
* Other: 8%
If you just mean desktop, though, then yes Firefox is about 10%. But mobile web is serious traffic these days.
Google deliberately blocked Windows Phone users from MAPs. They gave bullshit reason that the browser wouldn't work. But it worked for those who knew how to change their user agent to something else.
There is no good case that Google intentionally built the software in such a way that it would be slow in Firefox. But e.g. by not testing the app in Firefox or by explicitly using Chrome-specific optimisations or having the Chrome team create specific optimisations for those web apps (i.e. "good cross-team communication") you can effectively accomplish the same without ever having to spell it out as an intentional strategy.
If you build a browser with a significant marketshare and you also build widely used web apps, not spending any resources on fixing cross-browser compatibility or performance issues is effectively anti-competitive. Deciding not to correct "happy accidents" like "forgetting to test your apps in other browsers" leading to a competitive advantage is as bad as intentionally doing the same from the get-go.
We're talking about an international megacorp that is worth more than half a trillion dollars at this point. There are no accidents, especially not many identical accidents that remain consistent over years.
Pretty much all companies constantly whip their employees to get things done as fast as possible. And if that definition of "done" does not explicitly contain interoperability, then even the most well-intending employees will drop that sooner rather than later.
Which is the case for any side-goal. Security, code quality, documentation, tooling, test coverage etc. If you only prioritize one thing, other things will be neglected, unless you put explicit checks in place.
Which is why we have people whose job it is to manage these things.
And if those managers failed to put checks in place, then we are back at either incompetence or malice of those managers.
Would it have been acceptable if the one browser was Edge, Firefox or Opera? I bet dollars to donuts that they would not launch until they had it working on Chrome.
Fire and Motion. By being first to add stuff that users (web developers) immediately start expecting from everyone, they ensure everyone else is too busy catching up with them to actually compete. Thus, they secure their leadership position. See: https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2002/01/06/fire-and-motion/.
I don't think Ff will survive, too many useful idiots out there to have any hope left.
The video streaming plugin was Google Widevine.
Or it will be like when one reaches YouTube, Hangouts,... with other browsers?
Highlighting "standardise". They are NOT private APIs.
As part of this process, Google publishes a proposed standards draft that goes nowhere because of the above dynamic plus because it typically doesn't actually match the Chrome implementation. The engineer responsible for the feature gets their bonus, which is tied to shipping the feature (and throwing a standards draft over the wall is a requirement for that; it's better than nothing, but also worse than an actual standard while allowing the engineer and the rest of the Chrome team to feel good about themselves).
Crucially, there are incentives inside Google for shipping features and throwing a standards draft over the wall, but no incentives for actually getting things standardized, adopted in other browsers, addressing feedback on the standards proposal, maintaining the standard, etc. All of this shows in the observed behavior of even well-meaning engineers who have limited time and bonus targets to hit.
There's some movement towards changing the incentive structure. We'll see how it goes. There are definitely _very_ well-meaning people on the Chrome team who are not happy with the state of things and are trying to improve them.
Disclaimer: I work on Firefox and see this play out quite regularly.
Agreed, used it since version 2. Been happy with it for over a decade.
It's not been flawless, but I never felt the need to jump ship. Flash used to be pretty slow on Linux and fullscreen video was sometimes a bit unpredictable. Of course, who cares about that now? :P The WebExtension transition was a bit premature in my opinion, but I think we're slowly getting there with new APIs. Prior to that, Firefox had the most rich functionality available to extensions of all browsers - and on mobile it's still better than Chrome.
Recently, it's been getting better. We had Developer Edition (though dev tools were always done pretty well in Firefox - I've been able to take screenshots of DOM elements via GLCI for 7 years, Google only got around to copying this feature in 2017), then Quantum. I'm optimistic about the future of the browser.
Right now Firefox has caught up a lot in terms of performance and security, but even now they are still not there.
Pocket integration, advertisement on New Tab page, the Mr. Robot debacle, Google Analytics on extension page, etc.
That post came off as more of a whistle blowing speech from an oppressed developer. Nothing written was solid enough to make me think "Ohhh that's how Google killed Mozilla"
Just as Firefox destroyed IE, Chrome generally outperforms Firefox. If you dont believe me, read any benchmark out there. If you're too cynical, run them both yourself.
The GUI features Google introduced were very important. Draggable, swappable tabs that can be pulled out into separate windows, address bars with integrated search engines, built in PDF viewers. 10 years later these features sound like ridiculous remarks, but they were prominent selling points for many average users.
I don't trust my memory, so I'm checking with Firefox 3.0.1, released in July 16, 2008, definitely before the first release of Chrome. I can't be bothered to also test early Chrome and multiple old versions of Firefox, so the fact that a feature isn't in Firefox 3.0.1 doesn't mean that it came first in Chrome.
> Draggable, swappable tabs
Firefox 3.0.1 had these.
> that can be pulled out into separate windows,
Not quite — you could drag tabs between existing windows, but apparently not out into a separate window.
> address bars with integrated search engines,
If you entered a keyword, rather than a URL into the URL bar, Firefox would search for it in Google. (In addition, there was obviously the dedicated search bar.)
> built in PDF viewers.
Firefox 3.0.1 didn't have one. According to Wikipedia, the PDF-viewer arrived officially only in Firefox 19 (February 19, 2013). It was installable as an add-on earlier, but almost certainly not before Chrome's in-built viewer. OTOH Konqueror (KDE's browser) had an embedded PDF-viewer before either — at least as early as August 2008 — not that that's relevant for mainstream use, or for a comparison of Firefox and Chrome.
Overall, only 1, possibly 1.5 of the 3 features came earlier in Chrome. 1.5 were definitely already in Firefox when Chrome launched.
 I couldn't find the binary for 3.0.0, which was my first choice.
The search features were brand spanking new too. Firefox had a search bar, but the behavior of Chrome is what later prompted Mozilla to create the omnibar function.
The PDF and Flash built in were major features at the time because they avoided needing to install awful and exploitable third party components.
Here's a screenshot of Firefox 3.0.1, for example: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/30/Mozilla_...
By contrast, here's Chrome 1.0: http://img.brothersoft.com/top/screenshots/g/Google-Chrome-1...
Aside from the sheer cleanness of the UI (Wow, tabs on top?) Chrome's implementation of draggable tabs was better (the tab itself moved when dragged, not just an icon representing the tab), as was the Omnibox (it was way better at guessing when you wanted a search vs a URL; even to this day Chrome's site search features are better than Firefox).
Just looking at that old Firefox screenshot vs modern day FF it's obvious how many UI features were borrowed from Chrome.
I think the original comic that Google used to announce Chrome explains pretty well what made it different from other browsers of the day: https://www.google.com/googlebooks/chrome/small_00.html Just think about how many of those features eventually became standard in modern-day browsers and it becomes pretty clear how far Chrome was ahead of its time. (Skip to the section on "Search and User Experience" for the bit most relevant to this discussion thread.)
Anyway, the performance impacts alone are so huge, imo adblocking should be enabled by default for every user focused browser not supported by ad money. Simply a superior browsing experience.
I usually use webpagetest.org, which lets you run page loads in instrumented browsers.
So my experience opening Firefox always involves it saying "wait. Before we get to what you wanted to do, I'm going to spend a minute downloading a new version. OK, now I'm going to install it. Almost there. Now here are a bunch of browser tabs full of information about the things we changed. If you still want to do what you wanted to do after reading those, you can open a new tab. Because we filled the starting one with a message saying we updated Firefox, in case you hadn't noticed."
That means I never use Firefox unless I absolutely need to, to test that a new responsive layout works on them or after implementing a semi-cutting edge bit of the html spec. Which, of course means that they're guaranteed to have updated the thing at least once since I used it last, which means I get the whole two-minute sit and spin to load again.
Try the same usage pattern in chrome, and what happens is that Chrome loads up in zero point seven seconds and lets you get on with your life. It may then start updating in the background but you as the end user never need to hear about it.
It's nutty that Firefox still does this, 15 years after everybody else got it right.
I never checked it, so I guess it is on by default.
But even if it's checked, it seems the Firefox managers/decision makers still think that it improves the users awareness on the Firefox brand that they spend your time on these (quoted from
"wait. Before we get to what you wanted to do, I'm going to spend a minute downloading a new version. OK, now I'm going to install it. Almost there. Now here are a bunch of browser tabs full of information about the things we changed. If you still want to do what you wanted to do after reading those, you can open a new tab. Because we filled the starting one with a message saying we updated Firefox, in case you hadn't noticed."
"what happens is that Chrome loads up in zero point seven seconds and lets you get on with your life. It may then start updating in the background but you as the end user never need to hear about it."
Note: Nevertheless I personally avoid Chrome as much as I can because I really believe Google has too much power. Monocultures, political power and all that. For me is Chrome in the position IE was before, even if currently a lot of web developers prefer it.
(I work on the team that owns install/update at Mozilla, though I don’t work on it myself.)
It looks like the user base is still a bit fractionated.
firefox team on avg seems to me to focus on random things the average user doesn't care about. firefox sync doesn't "just work" so chrome sync is better. firefox doesn't play youtube videos as smoothly as chrome does(i don't care that you need to implement some stuff to get youtube to work smoother, youtube working smoothly is a primary feature for most people - you lose users)
i simply don't understand why the focus is the way it is at firefox. your focus is on the open web while the focus at chrome seems to be acquiring and keeping users happy. then firefox team complain about how chrome has the lions share of the market and is killing the open web...
I criticise because I care and actually use Firefox, and expect it to be better.
I cannot recall Firefox lacked such feature. You can even swap tabs without mouse (ctrl+shift+pgUp/Down) what is not possible in Chrome AFAIK. And you have slightly greater control over order and appearance of tabs in Firefox.
> [..] that can be pulled out into separate windows,
Pulling tabs from / to Chrome windows is FMPoW UX disaster against proven patterns, at least in Windows platform 
> [..] address bars with integrated search engines,
AFaIR Mozilla experimented with "Awesomebar" way before Google Chrome Omnibar appeared. Things like accelerator searches and keyword bookmarks were there since its dawn. It was just "ease of use and lack of control" that Chrome introduced. 
> [..] built in PDF viewer[s].
Frankly, I don't have data who had integrated plugin-less PDF viewer first. Yes, it might have been considerable advantage.
 usually you can dragNdrop anything between any two windows using the "delayed hover on taskbar" mechanism: e.g. with Firefox you
1) drag the item (tab) from the source window (dragging cursor / icon appears),
2) hover on taskbar item of target window (window appears), and
3) drop the tab among other tabs in target window.
In Chrome you must
1) choose (focus) the target window first,
2) switch to source window,
3) drag the tab (source window disappears completely, revealing target window under some weird temporal tab/window that sticks to target or could be dropped to create own new window) and
4) drop tab among other tabs in the target window.
 as expressed in other comments, some users preferes adress bar to primarily consume just URLS and for search use isolated input. Vanilla Firefox Quantum can be set like this today, and you can have your search bar hidden in overflow menu but still one keyboard shortcut away.
Also Firefox's PDF viewer was slow and buggy, while Chrome's (I think based on Foxit Reader) was awesome from the start.
You think a browser becomes #1 by word of mouth advertising? They used almost every trick they could to make people switch.
I'm wondering why you felt the need to comment on the topic, if you don't even know such basic things.
Chrome's embedded PDF reader didnt support all of the extraneous crap Adobe did, but that's a feature. It was also sandboxed, which IE's implementation was not for many years.
It also doesn’t work very well. There are many PDF files, particularly those with OCR text, where search doesn’t work in Chrome but works fine in Acrobat. (It’s also slow to index files for searching, and lacks the UI to distinguish between a search failing because the file hasn’t been indexed and search failing because the text doesn’t exist.)
That is the worst thing to happen to Web browsers that I can remember. When I type an address into that bar, I expect the browser to attempt to contact the server I specify. I do not expect it to decide that what I typed was a search term and send me off to Google.
Firefox had actual quick searches in the address bar years before. That is where you prefix what you type with something that unambiguously says where you want to search (e.g. I've had Wikipedia set up for many years now, I type "wp <search term>"). Having a separate search box, as Firefox always had as far as I can remember, has its virtues too as the box stays around between page loads.
Searching in the address bar does nothing but serve Google by making people forget about urls and having all Web access routed through them.
Now when I'm typing an URL, I must make sure it has a valid syntax, because otherwise I'm redirected to the search engine right away. Kind of annoying, since one reason I don't go through the search engine is to avoid being tracked.
(Less of a problem now that I use DuckDuckGo by default, though.)
This is unwarranted condescension. Many URLs are long and non-obvious — do remember that people usually want specific pages rather than a top-level homepage — and there's a thriving industry registering domains which are one typo away from something legitimate and loading them up with ads & malware. For the average person, it's safer and faster just to let Google figure it out.
> Now when I'm typing an URL, I must make sure it has a valid syntax, because otherwise I'm redirected to the search engine right away.
I don't know about Chrome but Firefox shows the status while you're typing so you can tell when you've entered something such as a space which will cause it to be treated as a search query instead.
Of course. Only a genius like me can use the address bar's auto completion. I know: even my programmers colleagues at work reach for the search bar, I must be a unique snowflake.
Seriously though, the difference isn't that big, barely a speed bump. But that speed bump is enough to cause people to go around it, and use Google even when reaching for something as simple as news.ycombinator.com!
I think it's less a matter of capability, and more a misunderstanding of the costs. Giving your search terms away doesn't seem like such a bad deal, considering the search engine is free to use. We just tend to forget that we pay with our data, and that data is valuable because it will later be used to sell us things we would otherwise not have bought.
But such a cost is so indirect and so removed from its actual cause that we tend to just ignore it. I know I often do.
If they've previously hit the site before, autocompletion will work but lots of people hear about sites in contexts which don't give them a direct clickable link on the computer they want to use and they're a lot more likely to have a negative outcome from that than Google's data mining.
Meanwhile all the extensions for better tabs are still broken because the tab bar still exists across the top. They had a more capable browser then they killed it. I doubt these issue are visible in their telemetry.
> address bars with integrated search engines
The original mozilla suite had this, no idea why it was separated in Firefox.
Mozilla thought it was a good idea to avoid sending every keystroke you type to Google.
Turns out people don't care or complain loudly that it doesn't work like in Chrome so now it is combined by default AFAIK, but there is a fallback for people like me (and many other HNers).
As for why consider what happens when you type <somethingyouwouldprefergoogledidnotknow>.com
Until the .com this looks like a search.
- internal websites with revealing URLs
- support websites for things yoou don't want ads for (mental conditions etc)
I used to be in the nothing to hide, nothing to fear camp but 2 decades of Internet use have changed my mind (even if I still think I have nothing to hide for police or family.)
It's not like that's the only choice. They could have local auto complete and only send the search request to google when you hit enter.
... and that's what it used to do IIRC.
Today you'll also have to turn off "Show search suggestions in address bar results" to get back to that behaviour it seems.
Yes, Firefox is slow on Macs, but you should consider switching to it. We know how it went with IE back then. On Android, the extension support alone makes it so much better than the competition.
Firefox doesn't open links handled by apps directly with the app, like almost every other Android browser does. This makes it unusable for me.
Here's the bug report (7 years old) btw: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=806385
However, I think there was an option to have it enabled if you wish to.
Oooh, I so very much want that. Thanks, I'll check it out!
No, otherwise that bug would have been marked as fixed.
> without even giving me a chance to opt-out
It didn't flip a pref, the infrastructure behind that feature was removed because it was a maintenance nightmare, and not enough people were using it. You could have opted out (for a while) by switching to the ESR.
I haven't tried qutebrowser, does it have extension or RSS support?
It has a userscript:
... but extensions in qutebrowser are admittedly in a very early and immature state now, and the codebase for them is going to be changed.
I forced the use of Firefox over 100s of computer and witness the growth of Chrome all by user installing it themselves. And when I ask them why, trying to talk them out of it, the number one reason was, Chrome was WAY faster than Firefox at the time. From Cold Start, Prefetch, rendering, first time to paint, actual UI etc. Every single god damn thing. And many users notice. At first I would not help them to install Chrome or told them Firefox was simply better. Over time one by one they just install it themselves.
It wasn't about the Open Web, Standards etc. None of the users cares about any of these. It was the actual browser UX.
>All of this is stuff you’re allowed to do to compete, of course.
Of-course not, any country with decent enough anti-competitive laws would give a verdict in favour of Firefox. But I do understand why Firefox did not take legal route.
(That’s a year an a half before Chrome launched with a leaked comic book)
"People will make changes to do something good for Firefox and because Firefox is the only really blessed project by the Mozilla Corporation and the Foundation, that’s their only focus. So they’ll make changes that work great in Firefox and then they’ll do—they’ll either like, break Camino’s build just entirely, or things will stop working, or things will slow down, and nobody will really understand why. Because, you know, there was no communication about, you know, this change might have this effect. There’s also a lot of strife back and forth between features that are implemented in the core Gecko in a way that they will only work with Firefox. [...] So we’d run into situations where we try and implement a feature and we discover we just can’t do it. And we kind of raise our hands and say, “Ah, can we get this fixed?” And the answer would invariably be, “Well, it works in Firefox. Who cares?” [...] And that’s something that eventually made me sour greatly on the Foundation and the Corporation and why we kind of took our ball and went elsewhere, and stopped trying to work directly with the Foundation for the majority of problems."
Camino was another browser based on Gecko, but died in 2011 when Mozilla killed off support for embedding:
I worked on Inbox from inception (as a former member of the GWT team), at the time Google was moving towards 'mobile first' (notice how there's no still Web version of the new Google Calendar), so the new generation of apps prioritized architecture and design for native-mobile and material design over desktop. Inbox was mostly written in a shared Java codebase transpiled with GWT (later J2CL) and J2ObjC (for iOS), so it could run natively on mobile from a single codebase. It obtained >75% code reuse between platforms, but a result of that however was a rather large SPA on the Web.
Because of its design as an installable material-design mobile app, it forced bleeding edge technology on the Web version to maintain a shared codebase. So for example, because it includes an entire compiled datastore/synchronization engine that is too heavyweight to run on the browser UI thread, it made early use intensive of WebWorkers to simulate multithreading (at a time when there were lots of browser implementation bugs in Workers). For most of the time that I worked on it, Firefox Dev Tools couldn't even debug web workers well, and often Firefox dev tools would just fail with huge size of SPAs like Inbox.
Getting material-design style animations compositing at 60fps cross browser was also fraught with peril because the different browser renderers had very different ways they scheduled GPU texture uploads for compositing, different hazards when they fall back to software rasterization, and very poor devtools visibility into what would cause anomalous painting problems (excessive repaints, layouts, or straight up freezes waiting for the GPU). Yes, today that is all much better, but in 2012 it wasn't, and short of getting ahold of browser engineers and asking them to hook up C++ debuggers or instrumentation to tell Web engineers why rendering was failing, debugging performance jank was hard. When we ran into a rendering problem with Chrome, we'd file bugs against Blink, and when we encountered problems with Firefox, we'd contact the engineers there. Perhaps because of heavy work on Firefox OS at the time, the Blink engineers would respond with help faster, so that obviously had an effect on performance differentials and delays, especially when the problems are mystifying to a Web Dev without browser internals knowledge.
(see https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1045391 https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1088189)
Now you could say argue one of the following:
1) Google could have held up shipping Inbox until Firefox and Edge fixed all of their bugs that were blocking it
2) They could have just shipped the Android/iOS versions and held up the Web versions
3) They could have chose a different architecture (no shared code with mobile, rewrite a custom 100% web version from scratch)
4) Avoided excessive use of WebWorkers or SPAs
5) Not required a UI design/DOM structure that would require complex layout and painting stressing rendering pipelines
But no where in there was any active attempt to try and disadvantage other browsers. They sat out with an ambitious design for a Web app that they wanted to be 100% in parity with native mobile versions, and then found out that the Web platform itself wasn't up to handling it. Chrome could barely handle Inbox in 2012.
Unfortunately most of it is behind a paywall. Can anyone else provide additional context?
It currently seems that Firefox is only a little more privacy-respecting than the browser of one of the most invasive surveillance dotcoms.
It's been that way for years, and every year is lost ground.
I suspect that Mozilla's need for funding, and the sources of funding for so long, are what have them looking so similar to a dotcom.
When users won't pay money, Mozilla has seemed to focus on ways to sell its users to big companies.
Maybe there's a viable combination of expense reductions, refined focus, and switching to solely charitable (hands-off) donations? (Maybe we'd see little sponsor logos for most of the FAANGs, for various motivations. And for some other Fortune 500s, for good PR. And for public-interest organizations and government units/programs.)
A more privacy-friendly default search engine is clearly the elephant in the room, but their other financing strategies have been done to try to supersede that and to my knowledge did never infringe on privacy. If you feel different about one of them, please read up on it. There's been a lot of misinformation out there.
Mozilla would make themselves liable to prosecution, if they were to simply violate privacy without a very good reason, as privacy is an explicit goal of their legally-binding non-profit mission statement.
Having said that, there is a good reason why Mozilla has to compromise in terms of privacy. And that is webpage owners' interests.
Webpage owners want to track you. And they can opt to not support Firefox, if they can't track you. Which is kind of bad for Firefox and ultimately for Mozilla's mission, which is making the web a healthier place, for which they need Firefox even just as a second implementation of the web standards.
So, yes, they do have to balance out webpage owners' interests and yours. And yes, they cannot give you as privacy-friendly defaults as some of the browsers that don't have to care about webpage owners' interests. If you're a tiny Chromium fork, no one's going to block you, because mother Chrome is absolutely lovely to webpage owners.
But you should notice that Mozilla gives you the tools to fix the defaults and goes to great lengths to be privacy-friendly when webpage owners are not involved.
1. Your conception of a modern browser is what surveillance&brochure dotcoms want it to be. "Tools to fix the defaults" doesn't fix this.
2. The anti-user facilities in your browser that are now expected are what dotcoms wanted. Taking them away will be harder than saying they couldn't have them in the first place.
3. The now-massive complexity of browsers (to provide features and directions that the dotcoms want) is also a barrier to engineering and improvement, and also keeps out upstarts.
4. Dotcoms couldn't always afford to block Firefox.
With the now small market share, Mozilla might be a charity case, or it might be an antitrust buffer case. I'd favor Mozilla adopting a public interest charity model, and taking PR money from big corps (among other sources) in exchange for a sponsor logo, but not selling its users in any way.
Mozilla's respect for their users has shrunk so much that something as simple as putting the tabs below the address bar and bookmarks bar is virtually impossible on Firefox 66, when it used to be as simple as clicking the customize button and dragging things where you wanted them.