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Firefox 1.0.1

The Mozilla Organization has released Firefox 1.0.1. It is a minor, bug-fix update for the alternative browser, which has been downloaded 25 million times since its release in the fall of 2004. The open-source browser has been able to chisel away a small amount of market share from Microsoft Internet Explorer, at least enough to make Microsoft nervous. (More on that below)

The biggest fix is for the International Domain Name spoofing issue, which is a problem in the implementation of IDNs that is a cross-browser bug -- every browser that supports IDNs is vulnerable. (Ironically, Internet Explorer doesn't support IDN by default, so this is one time that IE has managed to avoid the bug.) You can find out more about the IDN issue at The BugBlog. There are also some fixes for cross-site scripting vulnerabilities, plug-in bugs, and some other assorted spoofing.

You can download the latest version at http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/. While you are there, you can read the installation instructions as part of the Release Notes. If you are upgrading, you will have less problems if you install 1.0.1 in a new directory, and not on top of version 1.0. This won't affect your bookmarks, passwords and other settings, because they are stored in a profile that's independent of the program files.

About Microsoft being nervous -- for years, and especially as part of the anti-trust trial, Microsoft has insisted that IE is an integral part of Windows, and it isn't a stand-alone product. Ordinarily, that would mean that you wouldn't be seeing a new version of IE until the next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn, comes out in 2006. (That's if there are no other delays.) But with the newer and better Firefox taking about five points of IE's market share in a couple months, Microsoft has announced that IE 7.0 will be released, by itself, in the fall. It will have new features, such as tabbed browsing, that Fifefox and Mozilla already have.

The invisible hand of competition strikes again.


This review also appears at Blogcritics.org