It is a rare occasion when a software company encourages users to download its product all at the same time. Often the result is a catastrophic amount of traffic and bandwidth use that knocks the site offline. However, in an attempt to break the Guinness world record for most software downloaded in one day, the Mozilla Foundation has declared today to be "Firefox 3 Download Day."
For many users, the war of the browsers has been mostly silent ever since Microsoft started pre-packaging its operating system with Internet Explorer in 2003, effectively quashing it's main competition, Netscape's Navigator. Internet Explorer, thereafter, reigned supreme, enjoying a usage share peaking at an astounding 95 percent. And as long as it continued to deliver e-mail, holiday gifts and porn, most users gave it little thought.
Those behind the curtains of the Internet, though, were shaking their fists. Internet Explorer brought a lot of security issues and a lot of bugs. It did nothing to discourage pop-ups. As far as design and programming, Web sites rendered in Internet Explorer were, as expected, always the last to work properly. And because it enjoyed such a large usage share, it's development stagnated because there really was no competition. If it's not broke enough ...
Then came Firefox, the champion of the geeks. It automatically blocked pop-ups by default and provided tabbed browsing (many Web sites could be opened in only one browser window). It rendered Web sites in a standardized way and offered add-ons to make your browsing session more convenient. You could get the weather forecast, bandwidth boosters, Web-based bookmarks and mouse gestures. For developers it offered invaluable diagnostic tools to perfect a site's design.
But despite the begging, pleading and sometimes covert installation (sorry, Mom) of Firefox, Internet Explorer STILL reigned supreme. It was something that always worked "well enough" and, besides, nobody wants to move all those bookmarks. Seventy percent of OnMilwaukee.com users still use Internet Explorer, 40 percent of whom are still using version 6, a browser that's at least 6 years old! In tech years that thing should have been been given the "Office Space" fax machine treatment long ago.
In what could be the best user-experience development since the pop-up blocker, Web sites are no longer allowed to resize or move the Firefox 3 browser without your expressed permission. Security has increased with Firefox 3 preventing spyware, rootkits, viruses, and malware from being offered, gives visual indications of whether a site is authentic or not (green is good). And there's much, much more that will probably go unnoticed.
After downloading Firefox 3, all of your favorite sites will thank you (and likely shed tears of happiness). And besides all that, wouldn't it feel great to be in the "Guinness Book of World Records?"
Firefox 3 is set to be released around noon, Milwaukee time. They have nearly 1.7 million people pledged to download -- and I know I'll add another three.
Jason McDowell grew up in central Iowa and moved to Milwaukee in 2000 to attend the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.
In 2006 he began working with OnMilwaukee as an advertising designer, but has since taken on a variety of rolls as the Creative Director, tackling all kinds of design problems, from digital to print, advertising to branding, icons to programming.
In 2016 he picked up the 414 Digital Star of the Year award.
Most other times he can be found racing bicycles, playing board games, or petting dogs.