Of course. It was Firefox that broke IE's grip on web-standards.
For me, a key moment was when my not-very-computery Mum, without prompting by me, phoned up her stockbroker to complain the site didn't work on Firefox. She did so because she felt Firefox was the "latest greatest thing", and blamed the broker for not supporting it.
In my view, modern Apple wouldn't have been possible without the Firefox community web standards campaign. The version 1 iPhone would have bombed if most websites hadn't worked on it.
Likewise, modern Google wouldn't have been possible. Projects like Google Docs, Mail and Maps are much better because of the standards push that started with the Firefox community. It lets Google compete directly with Microsoft.
First of all, standard compliance. I don't think Firefox 1.0 or its ancestors and subsequent version are all that standard compliant. Yes, for about 1 year in 2004-2005 it was the most standard compliant browser on the planet and could display most sites not written specifically for IE the way they were meant to be. But that drive to remain standard compliant quickly evaporated. When Safari 2.0 came out in 2005, it passed Acid2 and continued to be the most standard compliant, fastest browser on the planet with the cleanest code base for the next couple of years. And yes, it could render sites just as well as Firefox. Firefox OTOH, didn't pass it until 3.0 came out in 2008, and the second to last to pass Acid3.
Secondly, usability. I don't think Firefox from the day it came out to the present day is all that great in terms of UX. People seem to have forgotten that most of the browser UI features we take for granted came from Opera and later Chrome. Tabbed browsing? Opera first. Tab preview? Opera first. Most visited sites? Opera first. Tab groups? Opera first. Download Manager that speaks BT? Opera first. Mouse gestures? Opera first. The driver to innovative browser UI had always been Opera ever since IE dominated the market until Chrome came along in 2008 with its tab in title bar and omnibox. The only thing Firefox pioneered is the 3D view in the newer Firefox's inspect bar, which they somehow prioritized over consolidating all those overlapping and confusing developer tools, and making live editing in the markup panel possible, as in Firebug had been doing since 2007ish.
Third, under the hood innovation. Since the Netscape era to the present day I think the one most prevalent problem is misplaced focus. Mozilla simply has way too many sub-projects going on, not all of them important, and all of them compete for resources. Just look at how many man-hours Mozilla devs have wasted on technology that no one likes to use / can use but nevertheless bloat up Gecko. XPCOM, XUL, all those W3C alphabet soup X* standards in the early days, and then later on putting more and more JS features like let and generators into the JS engine. The APIs used to write extensions were a TERRIBLE mess before FUEL came out.
Lastly, speed, memory usage, and stability. Not until last year Firefox' launch speed was the slowest of all. It was unbearable and had not been addressed until very recently. Same for memory usages. In terms of JS exec speed and rendering speed, it was also among the slowest, only slightly faster than IE, though there has been significant improvement in this area as well this year. In terms of stability, it was not until recently that it got a boost using the same technique Chrome pioneered.
I can keep going on and on but the one thing that I cannot stress more is Mozilla's inability to focus on what's important. There was a time when Netscape had 80% of the market and Firefox a trend to break through 40% usage, but innovation stagnated while Safari, Chrome and Opera have continued to improve by leaps and bounds. There seems to have been many significant improvements to these problems recently and I certainly hope to see more aggressive innovation and focus from the open source community around Mozilla.
Opera was innovating, but did not break any stranglehold. Remember you had to pay for it? Remember it had ads embedded?
My number 1 reason for using Firefox against IE was AdBlock. Killing those damn intrusive ads, banners, popups, the whole infestation was a godsend. IE didn't do it. Opera refused such plugins, because they were ad-supported themselves - I know cause I tried arguing with them at the time.
I don't think it is a coincidence that Chrome took off once AdBlock plugins became possible and available.
I now I am not alone in not being able to browse the web without blocked ads anymore - just like I am not able to watch regular TV with ads anymore as well.
FYI, Opera had been free as in beer since 2006, Safari on Windows since 2007. Irrelevant to the browser market of course because either had the number of extensions FF had available. Opera also had (and still have) a lot of trouble rendering sites that work with FF and IE, and Safari Win was so much unlike everything else on Windows, nobody uses it just because it's weird.
This post is about placing credits where they are due. Copying functionality from one browser to another one isn't innovation, but I have to admit that one major reason Firefox got popular was the extensions that copied all those functionality from Opera over before Firefox had them. For some reason Firefox never really got to reach 40% usage, and now it's too late. I'm just a little disappointed.
That really depends on how and what you measure. For example, Gecko's CSS implementation was much more standards-compliant than WebKit's at the time... and continues to be so as of last time people actually measured, with the CSS 2.1 test suite.
But yes, WebKit does have better marketing there.
"I don't think Firefox from the day it came out to the present day is all that great in terms of UX." Then you prove that statement by talking about who invented features first and say "The driver to innovative browser UI had always been Opera".
These two things are unrelated. I stopped reading after that.
Case in point.
Oh, and "those two things" are not unrelated. His argument is that Firefox never drove UI innovation, and almost all the good things we now take for granted were copied from other browsers (Opera and Chrome). Left to itself, Firefox had (and would continue to have) a subpar UI.
Your point is that being a late adopter of UI goodness doesn't preclude you having a good UI. But "good UI" is relative. If you are a late adopter your UI is always worse than the competition.
Direct YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCWtvtwhFCk
Given its age and heritage and historical influence (and given that it's used by hundreds of millions of people), Mozilla's codebase is right up there with Linux and GNU as one of the most impressive examples of open-source software.
 With the exception of http://www.fastcompany.com/28121/they-write-right-stuff
And it isn't true that every piece of software is born with the number of bugs, and the number of solved bugs in the tracker is a measure of how close to perfection the software is.
But the second is much closer to the truth than the first.
I also still remember being a bit baffled as to all the excitement people were expressing over something as mundane as a web browser. Remember the full-spread two-page launch ad in the New York Times? Firefox was probably the first time I'd ever heard of something "open source" in my entire life. And of course, tabbed browsing was love at first sight.
I used Opera all through the long night of IE6 hegemony, although always ready to switch back to IE whenever a site didn't work in Opera. There was a good, actively developed, standards-compliant browser available that whole time. It just never caught on in terms of popularity and mindshare. I hardly even noticed Firefox until around version 3.
This is the ad-supported version 5, you had to enter a key to remove them. Prior versions were shareware.
StarOffice had a similar idea but they made an effort to show where they were drawing inspiration from: http://i.imgur.com/fiQ5c.jpg
(For those who are wondering, yes LibreOffice is its legacy.)
I don't remember when I exactly switched. But I remember that Mozilla was a huge pile of bloat, Galeon had some internal trouble, and Konqueror/KHTML had problems with several websites (mostly JS stuff IIRC).
Firefox is still my favorite browser!
I really like the way firefox allows me to sync bookmarks across devices.
I really like the fireftp add on.
I don't like the way firefox makes me wait sometimes while it updates.
It's really hard to figure out some things.
One time I accidentally forgot to press the tab key after entering my username on log-in and entered my password in the username box (in plaintext). It took ages (even after googling) to figure out how to stop firefox offering my username+password
as a log-in suggestion
"And [Shaver] affected my framing of the problem deeply – I remember one day a couple of years back when we were talking about some market share point, thinking about how incredibly, insanely competitive the browser technology landscape was – and he said to me: 'Look, this is the world we wanted. And this is the world we made.' Wow. Exactly right. He taught me so much about how enormous an impact a group of dedicated people can make."
Side note: if you could add support for base64 pngs embedded with the data uri you could really help me out of a jam...
firefox's position allowed it to get sluggish in features and performance. a lack of true competition in alternative browsers for that brief period of time (you either used IE and were afraid to move, were prevented from it in a corporate setting, or you used firefox and wouldn't go back) showed that such stagnation can happen to anyone. bloat, performance drops, etc ...
thanks for opening up the web, but that stretch of time has forever burned me on mozilla products.
That was it, immediately switched to IE. I preferred Netscape but the load time was too frustrating.
And then when firefox came out (or at least one of the later version) I remember repeating that exact same thing. I needed to open a html file on the desktop and IE was sloooow. So I tried firefox, much much faster. And then there was firebug.. no contest, game set and match.
I switched to chrome for about a year because it seemed to render pages faster but about 3 months ago I ran into some weird problem where chrome stopped playing youtube videos properly. Tried everything, no luck, switched back to firefox and actually... I think I'll stick with it, it's a great browser.
Using Firefox nowadays just feels too slow, even though it's addon ecosystem is unrivaled.
Good luck for your future.