Firefox has surpassed 100 million downloads just before celebrating its first birthday, the Mozilla Foundation said this week.

The group attributed the success of its open-source browser, which has proved strong competition to Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE), to Firefox's community of developers who have contributed code and features to the project. Mozilla also cited the Spread Firefox community for the browser's success. Spread Firefox is a grassroots community that develops, tests and markets Firefox to promote its adoption.

Trusted computing

Firefox proponents believe it is a more secure, innovative and feature-rich browser than IE, and it is the first browser to win market share at the expense of Microsoft's browser. Various researchers estimate that Firefox now holds between 7 per cent and 9 per cent of the browser market.

But Firefox has faced quickly-fixed security bugs. A report by security provider Symantec Corp, published in September, said the Firefox browser had more confirmed vulnerabilities than IE in the first six months of 2005. Symantec was quick to stress that the findings did not necessarily mean Firefox is less secure than IE.

Browser makers dance marketshare waltz

Earlier this week, AOL's Netscape division released an update to the Netscape browser that also fixes vulnerabilities in Firefox 1.0.7, released by Mozilla last month. Netscape is based on code from the Mozilla project.

The first major Firefox upgrade, Version 1.5, is currently in beta testing and is expected to be generally available before the end of the year.

Microsoft is also working on a major IE upgrade, IE 7, which also is in beta testing. Microsoft has said it expects to have Beta 2 of IE 7 available before the end of the year.