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For several years (2001-2005) we've already had the situation when the single browser engine (Trident, MSIE) had the dominant share of 90% and more. Indeed, this was bad for the Web as a platform, pretty much in ways the article describes.

However this time we've got a difference: new dominant browser engine is open-source with a very liberal license (BSD, LGPL). So anyone who is not satisfied with the development of WebKit is welcome to fork. In fact, Google has replaced JavaScriptCore (part of WebKit) with V8.

So is there actually any reasons for having competitive open-source full browser stacks? I believe licensing reasons (the one behind FreeBSD and Linux) is not very important for browser world (Gecko and WebKit have very similar licensing terms). And I don't see much ideological reasons that can't be fixed by forking.

What else? Usually developers hate abandoning their work and switching to improve competitor's solutions — especially in the open source world. Developers like the feeling of doing important stuff and money. Market share of Firefox is still quite high (~25%) and Mozilla still receives money (company is non-profit, but developers are being paid I believe). Probably for this reasons the struggle will continue for some time.

However it is difficult to assume that there is something useful for web platform in this struggle. Every new web standard feature requires independent implementation from two different open-source projects and the whole platform adoption process goes as fast as the slowest team goes.




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