The non-profit Mozilla Foundation hopes to up the heat on Microsoft after launching a faster, revamped version of its popular Firefox Internet browser.
Firefox 1.5, which is available as a free download from www.Mozilla.com, will aim to build on the success of last year’s Firefox 1.0, which won a cult following among users who say the software is slicker and more secure than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE), the market leader.
Improvements included in Firefox 1.5 include automatic updates, faster surfing speeds and drag-and-drop page tabs designed to make the product more user friendly. An in depth catalogue of the alterations is available http://www.squarefree.com/burningedge/releases/1.5-comprehensive.html.
The new product is also being marketed as more secure than its predecessor and rivals such as IE.
In the past year Mozilla itself has highlighted advice it claims came from the United States Department of Homeland Security's Computer Emergency Readiness Team "to recommend that consumers stop using Internet Explorer and switch to other browsers".
Though IE still dominates the browser market. Firefox – which has been built by an army of thousands of volunteers and is available to download for free, is now used by at least one in ten surfers. Mozilla claims that word-of-mouth recommendations and volunteer-led marketing drives have helped Firefox claim 50 million active users over the past year.
The latest Firefox includes a keyboard shortcut that will allow users to wipe personal details, such as passwords or browsing histories, from the browser.
Mozilla already held a commercial deal with Google, where it gets income for pre-setting Google as the browser's homepage in America and Europe. Today it revealed a deal with Yahoo!, with whom it begins "a new search relationship" in China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
Times Online reported earlier this month that Mozilla Corporation, the software house that is wholly owned by the non-profit Mozilla foundation, is also to unveil further commercial partnerships, including deals with eBay, the online auction house, which also owns PayPal, the online payments company, and Skype, the internet telephony company.
Firefox 2 is due next summer
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