April 13, 2005, 12:00 AM

Compatibility with Firefox browser crucial for web sites, analyst says

As Mozilla’s Firefox web browser surges in popularity – with 44 million downloads since Firefox 1.0 launched last November—web site operators need to assure that their sites are compatible with it, analysts say.


As the Mozilla Organization’s Firefox web browser surges in popularity-with 44 million downloads since Firefox 1.0 launched last November-web site operators need to assure that their sites are compatible with it, analysts say.

Firefox has been winning over users with built-in technology that blocks unsolicited pop-ups, is less susceptible to virus attacks and offers a unique way of navigating multiple sites within a single browser, says Ken Cassar, Nielsen/NetRatings analyst.

As a result, traffic to Mozilla.org surged 284% to 4.1 million unique visitors in March, up from 1.1 million in March of last year, Nielsen/NetRatings says. Mozilla introduced a preliminary 0.9 version of Firefox last June, following with the current version 1.0 in November. Firefox 1.0 surpassed 10 million downloads in the first month of its release.

Although Firefox is providing a popular alternative to Microsoft Corp.`s Internet Explorer, it’s creating more work for site developers who were becoming accustomed to only having to design sites to suit Explorer, Cassar says. "It was looking as though Microsoft Explorer was establishing itself as the standard browser, which was great news for site developers,” he says. “With Firefox on the rise, they have to grudgingly accept that they don`t live in a one-browser world."

Unlike Internet Explorer, Firefox does not support VBScript or ActiveX, Microsoft-developed programming languages that enable site designers to build interactive controls on web pages. Mozilla contends that VBScript and ActiveX have causeed security holes in Internet Explorer.

Eric Peterson, analyst with Jupiter Research, suggests that site developers prepare for Firefox by avoiding use of technology like ActiveX and assuring that their use of CSS and JavaScript web page design technology complies with W3C standards. CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, enables site developers to define how multiple parts of a web page appear.


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