I expect that this is generally understood, but with this post its worth noting that the views expressed here are only my own, and not necessarily those held officially by my employer, AOL.
Updated: Part 2 is available.
I've been asked repeatedly and pointedly (inside and outside of AOL), "Why did you guys build a browser that is based on Internet Explorer?" The implicit question, of course, is "Don't you know that IE droolz and Firefox roolz?"
No. No, I don't know that.
Let me state a few caveats, and then explain why I think Internet Explorer continues to be a substantially better choice for AOL's desktop software on Windows.
First, I think Firefox is a good browser. It does a nice job of being compatible enough in enough of the right ways, performs well enough, and offers a number of nice experience improvements to the browser. And, as a developer, I like that I have access to the source code.
Second, I think it is good for the industry at large to have more than one browser "out there". I think Apple was actually the first to raise the issue again with Safari - in terms of re-igniting the multi-browser flames, especially because of the disproportionate number of designers and web developers on the Mac - but certainly the Mozilla Foundation broadened and deepened the opportunity to being about more than just supporting an "edge" platform. As a concrete example of that value: Do you really think that Internet Explorer 7 would exist in its promised incarnation and be as broadly available if not for Firefox?
Third, its nice to see the original dot com browser make a comeback - and there's a certain underdog element to the whole open source non-profit foundation vs. Evil Empire thing ("Help me, Obi-wan, your're my only hope"). Lest we over-romanticize, however, we should remember that although Microsoft was very likely underhanded and monopolistic during the "browser wars" of the late 90's, I don't believe that was the deciding factor in their success with IE. The simple truth? Internet Explorer crushed Netspace Navigator because Microsoft delivered a genuinely better browser. And now, its payback time :)
As advocates of Firefox point out (correctly):
- Firefox is safer/more secure
- Firefox provides a better experience/is more powerful
- Firefox is more standards compliant
- Firefox is cooler
So now that the pleasantries are out of the way: Be prepared, Firefox Fans - next time, I'm bringin' the heat...