10 Years of Firefox and Innovation for the Web Platform

Today we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of Firefox and as a birthday present have lots of exciting new technologies for developers to try out.

Over the last 10 years Mozilla didn’t just build Firefox, we also helped build much of the Web that users experience today through Firefox and other browsers.

The Mozilla Project was created to wrestle control over the Web from Microsoft. Through its then dominant 98% browser market share with Internet Explorer 6, Microsoft had almost total control over the evolution of the Web. Mozilla didn’t tackle this situation merely through advocacy–telling the world why it is bad if a single corporation has disproportionate control over an ecosystem as important and central to our lives as the Web. Instead, we went to work to create a better, more powerful Web and a better, more powerful browser: Firefox. The competition and innovation Firefox brought to the Web has dramatically changed the open Web and browser landscape over the last 10 years.

Today, no single browser vendor has the same dominant market share Microsoft had. Users can choose from a number of browsers made by Microsoft, Google, Apple and of course Mozilla. The competition in the browser space is one of the clearest signs of the success of our mission over the last 10 years.

At Mozilla we don’t just build a consumer browser, we also build the Web itself. To overcome proprietary ecosystems the Web has to match or exceed the capabilities and performance of native platforms. Over the last 10 years we have pioneered many new Web technologies, and contributed to standardizing them.

Gaming

Gaming has become an important form of entertainment for many. In the past, gaming in the browser was dependent on plugins, restricting developers from distributing content widely on the Web. Mozilla has pioneered a number of new technologies to unlock the Web as an immersive platform for games, including WebGL, which is now ubiquitous among all modern browsers. And we created asm.js, a new JavaScript extension that enables near-native performance for game engines.

Performance Improvements

I am proud to say that Mozilla’s JavaScript engine now leads the market on JavaScript performance in pretty much all categories, offering a best in class gaming experience in the browser. We also enabled process separation in Nightly builds, providing additional performance and security benefits to Firefox users. And if you are using a 64-bit capable version of Windows, we will start shipping 64-bit builds of Firefox to Windows soon (on Mac we have been offering 64-bit builds for quite some time).

Advancing Audio and Video

Audio and Video on the Web are also making big leaps forward with the help of Mozilla. We are one of the leading proponents of WebRTC, a new Web API for real-time communication via audio, video and data channels. Together with our long time partner Telefonica, we are  bringing Firefox Hello, a WebRTC-based audio/video chat feature to Firefox soon. Firefox Hello allows people to communicate in real time without the need to download software or create an account.

Building out the Web

Our volunteer community continues to have a big role in advancing Firefox and the Web. Andre Natal from our Brazilian community has been contributing speech recognition functionality to Firefox and Firefox OS. This will allow users to interact with their desktop browsers as well as Firefox OS devices by simply using their voice. This Web Speech API is currently being added to our rendering engine Gecko.

Firefox Developer Edition

If you are a Web developer and excited to try out some of the technologies above, we have something special for you in celebration of our 10th anniversary. While we build the Web, it is developers who build the content and experiences the Web enables. In recognition of their efforts and our ongoing commitment to the Web developer community we are releasing a dedicated Firefox Developer Edition, made specifically for Web developers with many features that developers want enabled by default. The developer edition streamlines development workflow and adds new features that simplify the process of building for the entire Web, whether targeting mobile or desktop across many different platforms.

What the Future Holds

10 years ago, Mozilla started a long journey to set the Web free of Microsoft’s proprietary control, and today we have largely achieved that goal. The next phase of the struggle for an open Web is mobile where a new duopoly has arisen: iOS and Android. Just as we took on Microsoft 10 years ago with Firefox, we are looking to unseat Google’s and Apple’s dominance over the mobile space by creating a new smartphone OS that is built of the Web: Firefox OS. Since its launch last year Firefox OS has now spread to 24 countries all over the world, including our most recent launch in India. If you are using our Firefox OS developer phone, we are releasing a new developer build of Firefox OS 2.0 today.

We are also advancing the fundamental technologies of the Web through Servo and Rust. Servo is a new rendering engine for the next generation Web with advanced support for parallelism as well as improved security and reliability. We are able to accomplish this thanks to Rust, a new systems programming language which we have been building and which is gaining strong community support.

And, we have also started to explore the next frontier of the Web: Virtual Reality. We are pioneering new capabilities for VR on the Web and we are launching mozvr.com as a platform for technology demos and a place for developers to learn about how to bring VR experiences to the Web.

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