back to article Mozilla aborted IE in Firefox clothing

At one point, Mozilla considered building a plug-in that would turn Microsoft's Internet Explorer into a decent browser. But unlike Google, it quickly abandoned the idea. Mozilla Corp.'s director of community development Asa Dotzler tells The Reg that during its Firefox Summit two summers ago, developers discussed a plug-in …


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  1. asdf Silver badge

    mozilla stfu

    I used to be the biggest mozilla fanboi out there but enough is enough. Yes IE is crap but now Firefox is getting more and more like IE everyday. Bloated. slow to browse, slow to load, memory hog, lots of non sandboxed security bugs. Pretty sad when chromium on linux even as alpha software can quickly make a user forget about the fail firefox has become. Perhaps if mozilla spent less of googles money on political crusades and press release and more time putting out fast slim code they would have an argument. Try chromium (chrome on windows) for a week especially if you have a netbook and you will find yourself using firefox less and less.

  2. O2

    Google Plug In

    If a user is smart enough to be able to download a plug-in for their browser, wouldn't they then be smart enough to download Firefox, or Chrome or anything better than IE? Is there a point besides pushing Microsoft's buttons - which is not such a bad point...

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Bye bye Mozilla

    As the person above said, I used to use Mozilla and tell everyone else to use it. Now it's so slow it's blatantly obviously slow, they are resorting to talking nonsense. Even on the spread firefox page, people are having to really stretch for reasons to use firefox. Lame.

    Use chrome, Firefox sucks. Single thread apps are so 1994.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    What Microsoft are really saying

    So what Microsoft are really saying here is that IE's security model is crap. They're saying that they've taken no steps to ensure that plugins have to follow the security policy set by the browser?

    Arguing that Chrome is a security risk is a red herring. If Chrome is a security risk, any plugin is a security risk, and *hugely* increases the attack area of IE. What's worse is that malicious plugins would be relatively easy to create, blowing all of IE's security promises out of the water.

    So, Microsoft, which is it? Are you just whinging about Google Chrome because you didn't want IE to suppot web standards and break your lock-in, or is your security model a complete joke?

  5. troldman

    Re: What Microsoft are really saying

    That's bollocks. Any plugin can cause havoc on any browser - that's why you click the button to say you trust the source before you install it.

  6. SilverWave

    I like Chrome because it pushes Firefox

    The reasoning is different at the different companies:

    Firefox is the only reason for Mozilla to exist, helping IE does not make sense for them.

    For Google the key is increasing advertising revenue, faster browsing = more searching. So helping IE6 users makes sense.

    Of course Google's is a multi faceted strategy.

    1st is the breakup MS's stranglehold on the web.

    2nd is Speeding up the browser.

    3rd is Help enable Google Apps.

    Chrome helps in all of the above, its also a big stick with which to chivvy the other browser makers along the path Google wants. CF is a great idea from their point of view - stealing IE6 users from under MS's nose is just an added bonus.

    You can see how much it wrong footed MS by the ridiculous response about lack of security! HAH ms talking of lack of security in IE6!!!

    I am a great fan of Firefox but Chrome also helps me as the whole focus, over at Mozilla, has now switched to Speed, Speed, Speed.

    This is a change long overdue, and hopefully FF3.6-3.7 and 4 will be better for it.

    Chrome lit a fire under Mozilla and Firefox will be better for it :)

    Thanks Google! - for helping to making Firefox better :)

  7. Tom 7 Silver badge

    What MS are really saying II

    is please MS users don't find out just how good the web could have been if we hadn't spent that last twenty years trying to rip its head off and poo down its neck once it worked out it couldn't own someone else's work for a change.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    RE: Chrome

    Chrome is total toss, I've benchmarked Firefox and Chrome and the speed at which Firefox downloads web content is 10x better than Chrome, not only that but the lack of good plugins and total failure of the Chrome GUI makes me ill, Firefox for the moment is the best full-on browser, if you you want a cut down browser for your "Netbook" download Dillo you morons.

  9. Adrian Midgley 1

    soruce code licencing is the reason

    to use Firefox/Iceweasel.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You mean, Firefox in IE clothing?

    Firefox isn't so bad. Unless you install 20 different plugins, I find it's almost as fast as Chrome.

    Let me just remind people that such a "frame" plugin would not be just aimed at individual users, but at businesses. Most people will sooner or later upgrade to something > IE6, but a lot of businesses are stuck with what they have for admin reasons.

    If those businesses can be convinced to install the plugin rather than upgrade browsers, that's a significant amount of users switching from IE6 to a real browser that can use Google's Wave app. Individual users who still use IE6 are unlikely to have any use for Google Wave.

  11. tomjol

    Pointless concept...

    @asdf: Disagree. Up until 3.5 rolled around, yes, it was going that way - but from 3.5 onwards it has the lowest memory usage of any major browser (yes, ANY). Check the statistics for yourself if you don't believe me, they're very easy to find.

    In terms of the topic...Chrome Frame is downright stupid. People who care enough to install it will just use another browser, and those who don't probably won't notice the difference anyway. The only use for it I can see is to install it domain-wide...but let's face it, how many sysadmins do you know who actively want to install plugins for IE?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Chrome might be fast...

    ... but it's still very short on features compared to FF, especially when you start installing add-ons. Until Chrome has the same level of add-on support I wouldn't even consider switching browsers.

    @What Microsoft are really saying, I don't think that's particularly fair to Microsoft. Any application that you run locally on your machine can do nasty things to the system with the right privileges, even if it's Linux. Browser security is about preventing dangerous elements from executing from over the web, not defending itself from applications that are running locally.

  13. Geoff Mackenzie

    Firefox is fast for me

    I don't get it - I see a lot of people talking about Firefox bloat and slowness, but I'm not experiencing any of that. I have the latest FF on Ubuntu on a reasonably powerful but aging box; < 2 sec to start from cold and very nippy thereafter.

    I have noticed it's a little slower on Windows and Haiku but you can't have everything - I imagine that's more to do with compatibility layers than the browser itself.

  14. Mike Flugennock

    @asdf re: Firefox

    I don't know which OS you're on, but FF on a G4 tower under OSX runs like a champ. I tried 3.x on my iBook, but 3.x was dog-slow, so I downgraded to 2, and all is well. The wife still has FF 3.x on her laptop; she complains that it's slow, and I've offered to reinstall FF 2, but she's one of those people who refuses to be taught anything -- so I just let her be, and be thankful that we aren't running Windows at this house, as I'd never get any designing done for all the time I'd be pissing away scraping viruses and trojans and spyware off of her system.

    Just for the hell of it, though, just to see what all the fuss was about, I just now went over and downloaded a copy of Opera 10 for OSX. The little fucker wouldn't even _launch_ -- you double-click it, it does the little zoomout effect, and... nothing. So, I went back and downloaded the most recent rev of Opera 9. It ran OK, but right off the bat, Little Snitch flagged two attempts by Opera to phone home; I clicked "deny", after which Opera refused to load any pages. So, I quit and relaunched Opera, and told LS to "allow until quit", after which everything worked fine. It even imported my bookmarks. Cool.

    It was shortly after that when I realized why I ditched Opera after less than five minutes the last time around -- absolutely no control over the appearance of advertising, whether as gifs or Flash. I went to the Drudge Report page -- which I read purely for cheap laffs, I assure you -- and immediately remembered why I use Firefox/Flashblock/Adblock/NoScript. Opera's total lack of any kind of media filtering means I was hit in the face with the Drudge Report in all its horrifying Flash- and wiggling-gif-infested glory. Now, with the benefit of experience, I can belatedly join the El Reg Chorus Of Guys Telling Opera's Honcho To Quit Whining, Because Your Browser Sucks.

    So, long story short: I'm sticking with FF 2, and this old copy of Mozilla, for those really anal-retentive sites that won't load under Firefox.

  15. eviltwin

    Surely it should be...

    ...Firefox in IE's clothing? Since, you know it'd be a Firefox rendered page inside IE's window...

  16. JC 2

    Well I For One...

    Think it was a wise move on Mozilla's part, if the people are hungry for cake don't hand them a can of frosting to spread on manure.

    ... and I'm content with FF's speed, beyond a single-digit # of seconds to first load it after rebooting a PC (only needed when some MS patch demands it be done), it relaunches and spawns plenty fast enough even with several add-ons.

    I do agree though that they should consider their devoted followers who liked the more streamlined version and should offer a FF-lite edition, but truth be told the way the web is evolving there is less and less you can do with *defeatured* browsers these days, every tom, dick, and harry things you shouldn't be left to browse using mere HTML anymore.

  17. Craig 2
    Thumb Up

    Firefox slow?

    I too don't have any problem with Firefox's speed. Perhaps the people moaning have 50 plugins installed or some other problem, but with adblock and a couple of other basic plugins it's plenty fast enough.

    Maybe it's just the fact that as Firefox becomes more and more popular, some people think they are too cool to be part of the mainstream. :-p

  18. asdf Silver badge


    On a desktop yes Firefox 3.5 speed is decent and not annoying. On a cut down netbook using ubuntu 9.10 it sucks even with a handful of plugins even with 2 gig of memory. Also try opening 25 tabs or so in both browsers and see how they both perform on any computer. Don't get me wrong I understand Googles aims are not always pure and chrome is a bit of a trojan horse (though chromium is open source and worries about google collecting info are easy to debunk). Still all around it seems there is a good reason many are switching to webkit instead of gecko. Webkit is not only much more streamlined but also a hell of lot easier to code with. It seems gecko suffered from an obvious case of overengineering early in its design and has been trying to recover ever since. Btw as an aside once you get past the rough edges on upgrade Ubuntu 9.10 netbook remixed is so much faster and more responsible on a netbook than windows xp. Ubuntu seems to screwed up making the os foolproof but it runs sick fast for the tech geeks that know what they are doing (sigh the target audience continues to be the same).

  19. asdf Silver badge

    one final clarification

    Yes the argument is somewhat valid about chrome and plugins. To get around the annoying ads at least on linux use privoxy. On windows privoxy is a bit annoying but in linux once setup well its seamless. The way to browse imho is to use chromium for promiscious browsing where you surf random sites and firefox for logging into critical money sites like banking. The reason is NoScript does a better job of preventing xss and webjacking (html coding flaws) but chrome and its sandboxing does a better job protecting against browser flaws. Not to mention at least on linux out of the box chrome can handle media plugins much better than firefox (I actually disable almost all plugins, extensions, etc on firefox because I do use for banking). I also recommend always using private browsing for both browsers as they tend to store passwords very insecure and web sites cant track crap if it gets deleted every time you close the browser). Just be sure very often clear the damn flash cookies (login scripts perfect for this).

  20. Eddie Johnson


    "I am a great fan of Firefox but Chrome also helps me as the whole focus, over at Mozilla, has now switched to Speed, Speed, Speed."

    Are you kidding? The whole focus at Mozilla for Firefox is rearranging the deck chairs of the UI. My latest gripe is that all the cookie handling has been disappeared from the Tools/Options dialog, now buried deeply within about:config where you are (humorously? I'm not sure) warned against tampering with things. Its gone from something a user can logically configure on their own to something you have to research on the web before setting

    - Cookies.Behavior.ArcaneValueOne = 4

    - Cookies.Behavior.ArcaneValueTwo = False

    - Cookies.Behavior.ArcaneValueThree = 0

    Now that is progress! Meanwhile it frequently crashes when printing, often prints just "Page 1/1" for a page that requires 5 pages, and they haven't fixed bugs that existed back in Mozilla original recipe and Firefox 1.0. I have bugs I'm subscribed to on Bugzilla and I just watch them get passed back and forth, denied and justified, but never fixed.

    As asdf said Firefox = FAIL now.

  21. raving angry loony


    "plugins are a problem"? This from the makes of a browser whose main claim to fame, in my books, the availability of certain "add ons" (aka plugins)? Wow, such breathless hypocrisy!

    I'd switch and try other browsers if I could find the equivalent of NoScript and AdBlock elsewhere - but I can't yet. Other browsers, even vanilla Firefox, seem to make the basic assumption that my screen belongs to the website designer, not to me, and that they're allowed to throw any crap they want at me. I disagree, and NoScript with AdBlock - plugins - allow me that control.

  22. jon 77

    Mike Flugennock: been a few years then??

    As a user of opera + adblock +content block + noscript (and just using a text editor to add any other bad sites, images, names even) I had totally forgotten about some adverts....

    Until I had to get the same page up on my mates PC, to be shocked how bad that site really was!!!

  23. Big-nosed Pengie

    I've got an idea...

    Why doesn't someone create some add-ons to make Windows seem like a real operating system?

    Wait - why would they?

  24. The Vociferous Time Waster

    Cry foul

    So hang on, this is chrome rendering in an IE window and that's bad.

    But IETab, which is IE rendering in a Firefox window, is good?

    I just want one browser and to be able to switch rendering engines depending on the site. Simples.

  25. Greg J Preece




  26. Anonymous Coward

    @Eddie Johnson

    "all the cookie handling has been disappeared from the Tools/Options dialog"

    I don't know what you're running, but it isn't the current Firefox release (3.5.5), as the cookie handling is right there, under Tools/Options/Privacy. Sounds like a PEBCAK issue.

    As for Microsoft crying foul, is this the same MS who silently installed an non-uninstallable plugin to Firefox without permission? My heart bleeds.

  27. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why did Mozilla get so worked up about the Google plug in? Because if Google's code makes IE work properly then IE users would have no reason to switch to FF.

    Mozilla are already worried about Chrome for a number of reasons. Google have a much higher profile than Mozilla so if they really market Chrome then FF could well be in trouble. Also Google fund Mozilla quite heavilly, I suspect that Mozilla are somewhat worried that if Chrome takes a major market share there will be less incentive for Google to bung them a fortune every year.

    And as for the claim that Mozilla could have built their own IE plugin, but chose not to because they are such nice guys I have to call BS on that. Discussing it and even producing some proof of concept code is not the same as proving they can do it. Maybe they found they couldn't manage it. Or maybe they decided they were too damned scared of MS to follow it through. Either way this announcement reads like the words of a petulant kid. "I thought of it first, but the big boys beat me to it."

  29. Andy 70

    so what?

    i use IE8. it works, is as fast as the speed at which it can get hold of the data, i have no issues with regard to page rendering.

    it is supported within corporate environments for citrix, vpn web portals etc....

    i don't get what all the crying is about apart from people trying to stick it to the microsoft "man"?

    i guess i must be missing something here.

  30. wsm

    Flash not right

    I have to agree with the closing Flash comment. What is turned off most often by Firefox users? It's Flash and its intrusion into areas most IE-only users won't know about.

    It's not your computer until you turn off Flash and deny it's data collection--which you can only do while on, by the way.

  31. Obvious Robert

    @ Andy 70

    Why not just download the new beta for Chrome 4 and try it out for ten minutes? Then go back to IE8 and see if you still think it works at the speed it can get hold of data. I currently have IE, Opera, Firefox and Chrome installed. Chrome is quite clearly the fastest by far.

  32. SilverWave

    RM Flash Cookies

    @ wsm

    rm -rf /home/tbw/.macromedia


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