Introduction

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Introduction

Maybe you are reading this in a book store, a library, or a friend's house. Maybe this is your own copy of the book. If not, you should buy it.

Let's take a quick look at Mozilla, Firefox, and Thunderbird; the book; and what is inside for you.

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    The Mozilla Project

    Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was an idea: "Let's connect computers together so they can share data." Shortly thereafter the first network was born.

    By 1992, the number of hosts on the Internet had grown, topping one million. Just a year before this, the first web server was created. In 1993 Mosaic was created, and a year later Mosaic Communications, which would later become Netscape Communications, was born.

    As the Internet became more popular, the Web (and email) became the mainstay of Internet usage. By 1995, Microsoft entered the scene with Internet Explorer, given away free with the Windows 95 Plus! pack add-on. By 1998, Netscape was losing market share, and AOL (who now owned Netscape) made what was considered by many to be a radical move: It decided to release the source code for Netscape as open source.

    By 2000, Mozilla was hard at work creating and enhancing the Mozilla Suite, whose browser would eventually become Firefox. Mozilla Suite's email client was also split off to become Thunderbird.

    Today, the Mozilla Organization and mozilla.org are a major force in the Internet browser and email fields. Until recently, though, Microsoft (as large companies tend to do) had ignored Mozilla, feeling that its lion's share of the browser market was safe. Today, well over 50,000,000 Internet users have taken up Firefox, making it the most viable threat to Microsoft's domination to date.

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      The Mozilla Suite

      The Mozilla project started with Mozilla Suite, a group of programs that includes a web browser, an email and newsgroup client, an IRC chat client, and an HTML editor. The most recent release of Mozilla Suite was version 1.7.8, which was released in May 2005.

      Along the way, Mozilla Suite has spawned both Firefox (the browser) and Thunderbird (the email client). Many users have found that they don't need the full suite and only want one part, or the other.

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        Why Firefox Now?

        Why now? Why is Firefox becoming a serious contender to Microsoft's Internet Explorer?

        When I first was introduced to Firefox, my thought was, "Great, another warmed-over copy of Netscape." I was happy with my browser and thought it was great. Then, slowly, things happened. Friends started to ask me, "Have you tried Firefox yet?" This was usually followed up with a comment that, once I tried it, I'd never be happy with that other browser again. I'll admit it took a lot of pushing. But when two people who never liked Netscape either suggested I try it, I knew something special was happening.

        I have to be fair to everyone. Firefox is not 100% perfect. (Neither is Internet Explorer, for that matter.) It has bugs, quirks, and strange behaviors that take a bit of getting used to. But once you are started with Firefox, there is no turning back.

        Will Firefox ever dominate the browser market? Truthfully, Firefox probably will not end up with 100% of the market. Internet Explorer's too entrenched, too established, and too well backed financially to fall to the wayside. But, Firefox's market share is growing at a rate that is impressive.

        Today, it is estimated that there have been about 100 million downloads of Firefox. That means Firefox has more than 10% of the worldwide browser market share. As more and more people try (and accept) Firefox, the growth potential is enormous. I would not be surprised to see Firefox's share double within the next year or two. Only time will tell….

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