The Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit group "dedicated to preserving choice and promoting innovation on the Internet," announced the release this week of its Firefox 1.0 browser after issuing a preview version last month downloaded by some eight million people.

Although Explorer, integrated into the Windows operating system used on most personal computers, has dominated the browser market, recent security problems with Explorer have prompted renewed interest in other browsers.

In early November, Computerworld reported that Firefox's market share had risen to 6%. Among early adopters, 14% of visitors to Computerworld's website were using Firefox, according to the online magazine.

Technical details available 

As an open-source product, Mozilla's technical details are free and available to computer experts, who can test and offer improvements to the software.

It is available as a free download worldwide for computers with the Windows, Apple Macintosh or Linux operating systems.

Mozilla is hoping to chip away at
Microsoft's browser strangle-hold

"We are delighted to be announcing this major milestone for the Mozilla Foundation and for the Firefox browser, which has been made possible thanks to the tireless effort of hundreds of community volunteers and developers around the world," commented Mitchell Baker, president of the Mozilla Foundation.

"Now, millions more will be able to enjoy a better Web experience."

Firefox features include "tabbed" browsing to allow several pages to be contained within a single window, accessibility to search engines and pop-up blocking.

It also claims to help protect against some fraud schemes by displaying the true identity of sites in an effort to thwart "spoofed" sites mimicking a legitimate website.

Mozilla provided the basis for the original Netscape browser that dominated the early Internet before being crowded out by Microsoft. Netscape, now part of AOL Time Warner, has its own browser, which shares some features with Firefox.