Firefox For Mac Downloads Top 170K in 2 Days; "Polished" Version in March

The open-source Web browser Firefox 1.0 for Mac was downloaded over 170,000 times in the first two days, The Mozilla Foundation told The Mac Observer Thursday, making it one of the most successful launches of a shareware product in recent memory.

Of the over two million total downloads of Firefox 1.0, 8.2% were downloads of the Mac version, Ben Goodger, Lead Engineer for Mozilla Firefox told TMO. He called that number "significant". That would put the number of downloads in the first two days of its release at around 170,000, he said. The product made its public debut as a finished product last Tuesday.

If the current rate holds at 85,000 per day, Firefox 1.0 for Mac will have been downloaded 340,000 times by the end of Friday.

In comparison to the release of Appleis Safari Web browser in January of 2003, more than 500,000 copies were downloaded in the first four days at a rate of 125,000 per day. In 14 days, Safari had been copied one million times, or approximately 71,400 times per day.

Major features of Firefox for Mac include a pop-up blocker, multiple-window browsing, built-in Google search, RSS integration, and live bookmarks. The group also fixed what it called a "horde" of bug fixes, including the installation of world writable permissions on Mac OS X.

"Polished" Mac release set for March

Although Mr. Goodger said Mozilla was doing a release now because it feels Firefox is "competitive enough" to stand up against Microsoftis Internet Explorer and Appleis Safari browser, he admitted a more "polished version" will be available in March of next year.

"Weive got an aggressive plan for further integration work with Mac OS X for version 1.1," he said. Because an exact feature set for the next update has not been finalized, Mr. Goodger could not give specifics, but did say a high priority was to add a default browser setting to the Mac version.

"Weire not going to be too ambitious with version 1.1," he said. "We want to get into a good place where the product is structurally sound so were ready to add a much larger set of features for version 1.5 or 2.0, which is where the most of the new feature development work will be done."

Mr. Goodger would not discuss time frames for future releases past version 1.1. "We first have to figure out what we want to do and then set time goals," he commented.

Optimized versions "good work", but not official

Mr. Goodger said a number of unofficial versions of Firefox specially tweaked for G4 and G5 processors are a true example of how the open-source developer community is embracing the project and solving niche needs.

"People are free to take the source code and compile it using whatever options they find to be interesting," Mr. Goodger commented. "Some of these options may give performance benefits to one processor versus another. Theyire doing good work."

He cautioned that Mozilla has not officially tested or given quality assurance approval to other versions of Firefox, but that one day code from one of the optimized versions could be folded into an official version.

Optimized versions include a G5 processor build from Neil Lee, and a G4 optimized version from an open-source developer in Oslo, Norway.