Having launched Firefox 1.0 yesterday, the Mozilla Foundation is planning future enhancements to the open-source product, maybe including integration with a variety of desktop search tools.

The Foundation wants to place Firefox in PCs through OEM (original equipment manufacturer) deals with PC hardware vendors and to continue to sharpen the product's pop-up ad blocking technology.

These and other enhancements, such as graphics display improvements, will help Firefox to continue building the already considerable momentum it has generated so it can capture between 10 per cent and 12 per cent of the Web browser market by some point next year, said Chris Hofmann, the Mozilla Foundation's engineering director. "We believe there's room for a lot of growth for Firefox's market share and there's a number of things we need to do to continue on this growth curve," he said.

Microsoft faces Web backlash

Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) had held around 95 per cent of the browser market, but has been slowly losing ground this year, while Firefox has emerged as a fast-growing product, analysts at WebSideStory report. At the end of October, IE had a 92.9 per cent market share, while Firefox had secured a 3 per cent share.

Regarding integration with desktop search tools, the idea would be to offer Firefox users a choice of third-party tools for searching information stored on their PCs, Hofmann said. "We see a lot of growth with the integration of searching Web sites and searching your desktop, so we'll be looking at ways to try and integrate that search within the browser, to make more seamless how users go searching for information, whether on the Internet or their computer," Hofmann said.

Inflection point: Desktop search

Desktop search is one of the hottest areas in the search market currently, as users look for tools that let them find information on their PCs with the same ease and speed as Internet search engines. Thus, multiple high-profile vendors either provide or plan to provide tools for conducting desktop searches. Apple will offer its solution for this, Spotlight, in a future iteration of Mac OS X.

Google also recently introduced such a tool, while AOLand Yahoo have acknowledged they are developing their own. Microsoft has bundled hard-disk searching functionality with Windows, but it has been considered "clunky" and Microsoft is expected to offer an enhanced alternative in the near future.

"There are a variety of companies that are working on that technology and we may just try and identify a way for Firefox to plug into a variety of desktop search engines and enable users to pick and choose," Hofmann said.

Future features fire-up Firefox

The Mozilla Foundation will continue to boost Firefox's pop-up ad blocker, a key feature to make users' browsing experiences better, he said. These types of disruptive ads are generally considered a nuisance by browser users. "We want to stay ahead of the curve of Web sites that like to inject pop ups, so we'll continue to improve our pop-up blocker" in future Firefox upgrades, he said.

Clearly, signing OEM deals with PC makers to bundle Firefox with their machines would be important in accelerating the distribution and adoption of the browser, and the Mozilla Foundation is working on getting such deals done, Hofmann said, although he declined to comment further on which PC vendors might be involved.

Beyond Firefox, the Mozilla Foundation will continue to work on other Internet software, such as its Thunderbird email client, which is in preview version 0.9 right now(version 1.0 should shiip this month), Hofmann said. Calendar software is also in development.

The Mozilla Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in July 2003 to support the Mozilla open source software project, launched by Netscape Communications in 1998.