The Real Firefox-Killer

Firefox fans will be facing 2007 with more tranquillity than they did 2006. A year ago, it was clear that Firefox's free ride was about to end: after an astonishing five years of inactivity, Microsoft was finally launching an updated version of Internet Explorer. There seems little doubt that much of Firefox's success is down to the fact that Internet Explorer was so bad, both in terms of the eternal round of security problems and its general technical tiredness (half a decade is a very long time in computing.)

Potentially, them, the appearance of Internet Explorer 7 could have marked the high-water point for Firefox, as the Microsoft machine went into overdrive and began clawing back the market share it had lost since Firefox's arrival. But when the final version of Internet Explorer 7 appeared in October last year, the verdict was almost unanimous: it was not a Firefox-killer. To be sure, it was much better than IE6, but that had set the bar pretty low. Aside from offering tabs and a few much-needed security enhancements, IE7 was definitely in the ho-hum category. Firefox seemed safe for at least another year or two.

It is not. For the real challenger comes not from Microsoft directly; instead, it's from a new browser that uses IE's rendering engine, Trident, but which is produced completely independently of the company. This means that it can offer all the "benefits" of 100% compatibility with what is still the dominant Internet browser, together with a host of real improvements - some of which go beyond even Firefox.

This new competitor is called Maxthon, and, significantly, comes from China. This is relevant because the Chinese computer sector has tended to evolve according to its own rules. So while many sensible Westerners have seen the light and converted from Internet Explorer to Firefox, this is by no means the case in China. On the contrary: according to a recent interview with one of Maxthon's executives, Maxthon holds around 30% of the Chinese browser market, while Firefox is nowhere. Put that figure together with the fact that there are currently 132 million Internet users in China, up 30% from last year, and likely to grow even more in the future, and you have a situation where Maxthon's installed base probably already rivals that of Firefox.

That on its own would be bad enough; worse is that fact that the Maxthon browser is going to be being pushed aggressively outside China. The company behind it has received several rounds of investment, and now has the funds to make a big impact in the West.

Worst of all, perhaps, is that the Maxthon browser is actually better than Firefox. That is, it offers all of the features we have come to know and love on Firefox - tabbed browsing, adblocks, skins, plugins - together with several innovative ideas, such as automatic detection of RSS feeds, built-in Babel Fish translation, quick links to Google's cache, mouse gestures as standard, and plugins for Gmail, Hotmail, Bloglines, and coComment already installed.

I said that Maxthon offers all of the features of Firefox, but there is actually a rather important one that is missing: freedom. Although Maxthon is free as in beer, it is not free as in freedom. For readers of this blog, that will probably be the showstopper in terms of using Maxthon, but for the other 99.99% of the world, it is largely irrelevant. Maxthon may only work on Windows, but the market share of non-Windows desktops is currently small, so this is not a major issue either. The fact is that Maxthon could well be the best browser out there for most non-technical users who either are unaware of or don't care about deeper issues of freedom.

This is extremely dangerous for Firefox. Although Firefox 2.0 is widely regarded as superior to IE7, it is not that much better: it has no really stunning new features, and the old memory leak still seems to be dripping away (Firefox regularly eats up 200-300 Mbytes on my systems). In other words, it is hardly invulnerable to a bright, brash new entrant like Maxthon.

There is a danger that the Firefox world is starting to rest on its laurels and become complacent: this could be fatal for the Fox. The last thing it can afford to do is sit back and take its position as the coolest, most innovative browser around for granted. It can't even point to its highly successful SpreadFirefox community as an unbeatable trump card: Maxthon too has an extremely active and enthusiastic community behind it, which provides bug reports and evangelises the product.

Unless some serious thinking goes into how to make Firefox 3.0 not just better, but also truly exciting once more - and I don't mean just adding things like microformats - I fear that 2007 may finish much worse than 2006 did for the Firefox world.

Glyn Moody writes about free software at opendotdotdot.



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gstide's picture

oh, man, I can't believe what you said...
is this all you FF die fan can do???
I know FF is good. but, is it really good enough to make you spit on others???

about proxy feature, the best one is TouchNet browser. automatically collect proxy servers. automatically switch proxy server in a user-defined interval... much easier than Maxthon.

btw, does IE has no Maxthon? Neither do FF?

your words are really ridiculous.


gstide's picture

btw, does IE has no proxy feature? Neither does FF?


Glyn Moody's picture

I quite agree that the proxy capability was key for boosting Maxthon in China. But now that it has a healthy installed base there, it also has some handy revenue flowing in from the search box. This revenue can help fund a push to move into Western markets.

Obviously the proxy feature will be pretty much irrelevant there (although with the way some governments are going....), but there are plenty of other features it can sell itself on - a drop-in, superior replacement for IE, lots of cool extras (even if they're not really necessary), etc.

Maxthon has some nice

BTreeHugger's picture

Maxthon has some nice features, but they aren't generally all that impressive compared to the competition. What Maxthon does right is the proxy-beating support, and what Trident does right is it's support for Asian languages. Other browsers like Kazehakase try to do this with Gecko, but Trident has features that make it more suitable for this. Still, this really doesn't mean anything. Once Mozilla, Opera, Apple, et al decide to support those features then people using Maxthon will start to migrate to their choice of browser.

You see, it's all about choice. And while in China people have no choice but to start with Maxthon, they will eventually start seeing reasons to switch, just like anyone using Firefox may switch to Opera, back to IE, or buy a Mac and be happy with Safari. But here in North America neither of the benefits of Maxthon that make it a hit in China really amount to much. Unless a HUGE push is actively made it won't make much of a dent here it has not already made. Why? Because people are happy enough with IE, unless they are tech-oriented. Then they choose what works for them (the relative minority).

Yours is an interesting thought-experiment but I honestly cannot see Maxthon hindering Firefox here, nor overseas for very long. Mozilla just has to take note of what people want in Firefox 3 in that region of the world, and do something about it. Likewise, Opera 10 might easily supplant Maxthon if Opera cares to work on it. However, we'll have to wait and see; it will be interesting if it does take on a life of it's own, because China is pushing Microsoft pretty hard; if they start switching over to non-Microsoft operating systems in earnest things could get pretty sticky for Maxthon and Trident (as others have noted).

That's really the point

Glyn Moody's picture

For comments on the proxy feature, see above.

I agree, *if* Firefox does its job properly, and comes up with a stunning Firefox 3, 4 etc, then Maxthon won't be able to make significant inroads. What worries me is that Firefox 2 is rather humdrum: I just hope this isn't a sign that momentum has been lost.

People love complaining about Firefox

Anonymous's picture

To this day, I have no real idea where people get this "regular 200-300mb" of RAM usage coming from Firefox that I cannot replicate in IE5, 6, 7, Opera or other browsers. It's a relatively rare thing on all of my systems, but it's probably because I close my browser window when I'm not using it. Why? Because of that wonderful little invention, the session saver. I'd rather not have anything open that is eating up cycles for no reason; and I keep specialized software to do things that is designed for my usage patterns.

More importantly, people whine so much about Firefox bugs NOT being solved, they forget to mention that Mozilla has routinely solved serious problems, usually within a few days of their discovery. Besides, if people really cared that much about the problems they would pitch in and solve them without waiting on Mozilla (aside from the rare cases where Mozilla steps in and disagrees with them, which can be frustrating).

Firefox memory usage

mario miyojim's picture

I have five tabs active on Firefox, but the memory usage reported by 'top' is 100 megabytes, not 200-300 MB as mentioned in the article.
It is the first time I read about Maxthon, but I am not alarmed, because it only works on Windows. The Chinese government might be pushing Windows, but most people there cannot afford to pay the license fee, even if they wanted to be honest.

let's see

Anonymous's picture

go to visit some online cartoon sites
if u can't find one
sites with many large pictures are good as well.
you will see 300MB is the bottom line


Glyn Moody's picture

I have no problem hitting 300Mbytes of memory with Firefox. It's true that I typically have three or four windows open, with plenty of tabs, but hey, that's one of Firefox's strengths: I shouldn't have to shut down periodically - it seriously stops me working as I need to.

Now, you might say just bung in some more RAM - and I have. With 1.5 Gbytes I find the memory leak is just as bad, but there's so much to spare I notice it less. Unfortunately, one of my machines has only 256Mbytes which is almost unusable with Firefox under these circumstances.

New Browser?

Anonymous's picture

I had the browser as myie and myie2 in the past, iirc around 5 years ago. I use firefox exclusively, though my roommate swears by maxthon. As others have said, it just piggy backs on IE, and it comes with most of the security flaws as well, which are inherent in the system.

What is so new about it? New to you?


Glyn Moody's picture

Yes, it's new to me. But that's part of the point.

The first browser I used was Mosaic; I remember when the first Navigator beta was launched in October 1994; I downloaded every beta of Netscape as it came through, as well as all the Internet Explorers - including the earliest version that was not integrated with Windows 95. I've used Opera for many years, Firefox since the time it was Firebird, Flock and a few others.

The point I'm making is that I've seen a few browsers, and yet when I tried out Maxthon recently - I'd heard about it long before, but like most people in this discussion, couldn't see the point - I was frankly impressed. As I wrote, it has some fresh ideas that I think Firefox can learn from.

What are you smoking??

JMC's picture

How is maxthon different from any other IE wrapper (Avant comes to mind). I won't even go into compatibility with other OS's, because, if it's based on IE, then it doesn't exist. Saying this product would even scratch the paint job on Firefox is an extreme overstatement. The author of this article is about as out-of-touch with the world of computing as a person can be.

It's different

Glyn Moody's picture

Assuming the figures for its share of the Chinese market are even vaguely true, it has already attained a momentum there that none of the other IE wrappers has. This has allowed it to gain substantial backing for a well-funded push in the West. It's important to look at these things globally, and not just from the viewpoint of the West.

Why Maxthon?

TomNZ's picture

I just don't understand why you're picking Maxthon as a "Firefox killer". IE wrappers are nothing new. Look at Crazy Browser, Avant Browser, and a myriad of others. Many of these have features which far surpass Firefox's out of the box, yet people are steered away instantly because of the stigma which IE has associated with it.

As a side note, Firefox isn't the be-all and end-all of Mozilla-based browsers either. Flock is much more "Web 2.0" oriented and is derived from Firefox and supports many of its extensions.

It's different (2)

Glyn Moody's picture

See my comment above.

Trident Rendering

Vogateer's picture

Since Maxthon is using Internet Explorer's rendering engine, isn't it subject to all the horrible rendering bugs? Internet Explorer 7 and it's slightly improved rendering engine did make things a little better, but only a little. Many of us are going to continue to steer people towards Firefox, Opera, Seamonkey, or any other browser that has far better support for open standards. Most people would never have heard about Firefox if it weren't for computer enthusiasts telling them about it and installing it on their computer. Most of us are not going to steer people towards a non-standards compliant browser.

Firefox is cross platform, secure, has an incredible number of innovative extensions, and without the large number of rendering bugs. This article isn't nearly as attention seeking as Has the Linux Desktop Bubble Burst, but it's bad enough.

CSS support

Anonymous's picture

Does IE7 support display:table, display:table-row, and display:table-cell yet, or are they still stuck back in 1998?

The only reason that I use tables at all anymore is because IE6's CSS support is so half-baked.

It's all relative

Glyn Moody's picture

If IE becomes entrenched as the standard (again), then it looks like it's Firefox that has the rendering bugs. Not according to neutral, open standards, of course, but according to the marketplace of Web sites that start coding for IE again. The point is I don't want to see us going back to the bad old days of people lazily coding to IE standards.

Who does the installing?

Vogateer's picture

IE will always be tested and probably work pretty well on every web page you visit, but that's completely dodging my point, which is concerned with who is installing Firefox on people's computers.

I've read articles that state that about 85% of people don't install any programs on their computer, and from my experience, that sounds pretty accurate. That same 85% of people who don't install anything are the same people who aren't going to use even 85% of the features. Tabbed browsing? Mouse gestures? The users I know are not going to use any of these features you mention. Someone already pointed out why Maxthon is popular in China; it helps you get around the government censors with it's proxy. That is it's killer feature in China, most likely the main one that people there care about, and that has absolutely no use here in America or in most of the world.

I've shown at least a dozen people how to use tabbed browsing, guess how many of them use it? So far, only one, and that's because I set up her home page to consist of two tabs. Feature sets aren't important to the general public, since they're just going do the simplest web browsing, checking webmail, paying bills online, looking at pictures on flickr, and watching videos on youtube; and all in one window.

Firefox ends up on people's computers because people like me install it to stop the flood of spyware and pop-ups, and perhaps also for the satisfaction of supporting a product that actually complies with standards. Firefox has finally gained enough recognition so that web designers test against it, which means you know that it works with almost every web page that a user is going to visit. You know Firefox is going to work, it's not subject to the rendering bugs of Trident, doesn't get spyware, and will be installed by the people who actually install programs on the computers of their family and friends.Why would someone like me recommend Maxthon? The features don't matter to anyone I've met personally, the rendering is still bad, and from my reading, there's no reason to think that Maxthon is as secure as Firefox or Opera, which also does a very good job supporting standards.

So why would someone like me, or any of the people who install such programs for others, install Maxthon? Most won't, particularly if they've had to fight a long hard battle to get a web page using CSS to look respectable in IE.

I like Firefox, but if someone's using a browser like Safari, Seamonkey, Opera, Konqueror, Camino or any other browser that has respectable standards compliance, then good for them and good for the rest of us. That's what's important to me, and it's what should be important for other respectable geeks who care about true interoperability and those who see the benefits such open standards bring.


Henaway's picture

Okay, what kind of messed up logic is that? If people code to IE 'standards' (which is no standards at all) then ALL OTHER BROWSERS have bugs because Microsoft can't see fit to make a rendering engine that works after a DECADE???

Dude, your logic is SO flawed I don't know where to begin.

People are NOT going back to the old days of coding for IE first and screw everyone else. Well, maybe a few people, but they'll soon enough be unemployed with those practices. Even Microsoft has acknowledged what a botch ActiveX was and has moved away from it in IE7. Beyond ActiveX, there is little that can be coded to IE standards short of all the CSS/Javascript hacks to make IE work with otherwise perfect code.

Coders have changed. It's now code to standards, then spend hours/days/weeks making it work in IE too. No IE wrapper is going to kill the Fox.

A different view on why Firefox is popular.

Woodrow "asim" Jarvis Hill's picture

I understand your fear regarding Firefox's lack of innovation. However, I also would recommend you look back at why Firefox, and not Mozilla, became popular.

Would you agree that the fundamental reason Firefox took over as the primary browser from the Mozilla corp. was it's lack of features?* You mention nothing about Maxthon's user interface, which is actually key to Firefox's dominance, in my opinion. Opera has always bested both IE and whatever Netscape-based browser was out there in terms of raw features, and I'd submit that it was the decision to streamline the browser, IE-style, but to really polish the UI into a tool for both power users and neophytes that made Firefox the IE-killer.

Also note that Flock is a Firefox derivative with a lot of press, some serious VC capital behind it, and a similar "power users feature set"...and it barely has market share, as well.

My belief (and I have no special insight into this process) is that, with the plug-in system Firefox has, it has found a prefect tool for innovation. Firefox 2 additions such as Session Saving and Spellchecking were first introduced as extensions, became popular, and then the team implemented them into the browser itself. Yet, note how they did it -- Session Saving is practically invisible unless your browser crashes, and Spell Checking is a subtle hint in the interface, quite different that the in-your-face dialog box that the spellcheck extension used.

So yes, I submit that you've missed the point of Firefox. It's built to be smooth and easy for beginners, but to allow people like myself to customize it for their needs. If Maxthon has a similar easy UI, I would be concerned, yet what I've seen and read indicates it takes an Opera-like approach, which is excellent for those who wish it, yet appears to not be a way to build a major player in the so-called "browser wars".

I hope I make sense with this ramble. :)

* There are many other reasons, true, yet I suggest this was paramount.

That's a good point

Glyn Moody's picture

Yes, I agree that one of the strengths of Firefox is its interface. It's also true that Maxthon is very much in the Opera school, with lots of bells and whistles. But I must disagree that this simplicity is what appeals to ordinary users. Generally, they cope with what they get (remember all the secretaries using WordStar, WordPerfect?). It's actually the geeks who appreciate simplicity (less is more).

So I don't think that Maxthon's complexity outweighs its principal strength: that it is a better Internet Explorer. For people who want to move off IE, Maxthon is an option, just like Firefox. As I wrote, I think the danger is that for many - including companies who are committed Microsoft shops, or just unwilling to take the plunge with open source - it might be the solution they turn to.

People are really quite fickle when it comes to browsers: after Mosaic, there was Navigator; after Navigator, Internet Explorer. Now Internet Explorer is waning, but it's not clear yet who will take over.

RE: That's a good point

Anonymous's picture

Glyn Moody wrote "It's actually the geeks who appreciate simplicity (less is more)."

You blew any shred of credibility you had with that comment.

What would you know about credibility?

S's picture

Whatever the discipline, be it security, reliability, performance etc. etc. less is always more. Would you install Apache with 30 modules when you only needed half a dozen, or configure PHP with postgres, mysql, sqlite and firebird (interbase) when your app is only using mysql?

Simplicity is always the key; nice one Glyn

No, he didn't

Anonymous's picture

The more computer literate you are, the less you enjoy over-bloated working environments. At least that's what I have seen and that is the general direction I've been following and most likely continue to follow. Are you confusing bloat with technical merits?


lync's picture

I think your thoughts about Firefox is just your fantasies. A big competitor maxthon?? What??? Usage percantage may be less than %1...
IE got it's position with the insistance of Microsoft with it's OS...
So think again....

Future threat

Glyn Moody's picture

As I said in the article, I'm talking about what might happen, based on the fact that Maxthon seems to have a major chunk of the browser market in China, which is a big and growing market on its own, and that the company behind it now has money to grow its market share in the rest of the world.

Maxthon may not be on people's radar in the West, but that doesn't mean it isn't important, or that it won't become more important. And don't forget that Maxthon *is* Internet Explorer, but better: so it builds on all of Microsoft's efforts in establishing IE.


R's picture

Any thoughts as to why the government/DoD has not picked up Firefox and dropped IE?

Am I missing something?

bcnewman's picture

Granted, I am not a regular reader of Linux Journal, but for some strange reason I was under the impression that this site was about Linux. So I am a bit confused as to why I just read an article about a web browser that is exclusive to Windows. For me, and probably many other Linux users who are forced to use Windows while at work, the big draw to Firefox is that I can run the exact same browser at home that I do at work. Firefox may have many obstacles between it and world domination but an IE knock off from China isn't one of them.

-2 cent

No man/browser is an island

Glyn Moody's picture

The point of the article is that whether or not those of us who believe in and support free software like it, events outside that world can have a big impact. Firefox has all sorts of advantages, and until recently was the clear alternative to IE (well, along with Opera); I'm saying that Maxthon could change that by providing general users with a very attractive alternative to Firefox.

If people start using Maxthon in large numbers instead of converting to Firefox, the latter will lose momentum and with it the power to push for open standards. Instead, Microsoft's non-standard approach will be promoted by Maxthon. Users of Firefox will lose out - including those on non-Windows platforms.

So I'm suggesting this is a potential problem, even for a GNU/Linux-using readers of Linux Journal, precisely because Maxthon is Windows only.

Fair enough...

bcnewman's picture

I can see where your coming from.

Sounds like Konqueror

Anonymous's picture

That feature list sounds a lot like Konqueror (RSS-feed detection is sweet). And I think Opera has most (if not all) of those features, and so far Opera has failed to become the IE/FF killer.

That's the cunning

Glyn Moody's picture

Maxthon piggy-backs off Internet Explorer, and so isn't "new" or "risky" in the way Opera is: it's simply a supercharged version of IE. My point is that most people would probably put up with IE anyway, but given there's an improved version of it, many of them might go for it - rather than for the still slightly "dodgy" Firefox.


Alejandro's picture

Most people don't know wether Firefox uses a different rendering engine. If it's not a blue E, then it's another browser. Most people who don't switch to Firefox don't do it from fear of change - they just don't know there's an option, and even if they knew they wouldn't see the difference for the most part. And I'm not saying just old people: I'm talking about my 18 year old brother, who protested when I asked him to not use the hole-plagued IE on my computer. He just think's I'm a freak for not using the most popular browser. I can understand people not wanting to switch to Linux, I don't understand people not switching to Firefox when given the chance. But it happens.

Dodgy for businesses

Glyn Moody's picture

I'm sure you're right about general users, but another important sector is the business market. There, I think there is still a lingering suspicion among semi-savvy IT people, especially managers, about this communistic free open stuff, and this impedes the uptake of Firefox in those kinds of contexts.

Actually, the problem? isn't

Anonymous's picture

Actually, the problem isn't the semi-savvy tech people. It's the people who have listened to and partaken in enough converstaions, to sound like they know something about IT to people in the upper management, (the ones who don't know squat about IT, and don't care to. They think this guy knows what hes talking about and can make me look good!) The problem with most of these Psuedo Tech-savvy people, is that they talk to and listen to the guys in IT, hear what they think is important, then see a banner somewhere that says Microsoft, is all you need.
I'm sure youve met some of these guys, the ones who wouldn't know a UNIX socket from a wall socket, or a BSD stream from the creek behind there house. Yet they can convince the upper level managers that this is what needs to be done.
Another problem is the lawyers, and the reps from the big companies. By this (in the case of the company I work for) I mean the MS and SCO lawyers, and there stooges. The company that I am currently employed by, decided about a year ago, to start switching there main server farm in Dallas, from SCO (pre Caldera) UNIX to Linux. They were also poised to start switching the local systems to Linux. The story as it trickled down through the channels, and the official letter stated, in a nutshell, "It has come to our attention, that because of the recently passed Sarbanes Oxley act, that our migration to Linux must be halted immediately." Someone had "convinced" (no doubt with a pocket full of cash) one of the higher ups that using Linux in any form would violate that law. He (I think) managed to convince a few others, and the E-Brake was applied full force. A few of us who knew better, returned the Linux machines the company had sent us, as per the order from above, and supplied our local office with a few machines to run Linux and continue the migration. Our GM was unaware at first, but by the time it came to his attention, he stated simply, I saw nothing, I know nothing!
Eventually the lawyers for our company finally assured those in charge that no violations would occur regardless of the os we chose.
Basically when all calmed down, our GM took credit for our testicular fortitude, in this situation, (big surprise there) and the migration company wide has resumed. It's gonna take awhile, there is no doubt about that, a sameday transportation company that services the entire US, and parts of Canada. Thats a lot of systems to change over. Most of us are looking forward to it, others couldn't give a rats rump.
Our IT managers, aren't blinded by the hype, from any direction, (I guess we are fortunate in that respect) and most of the products that we use are developed in house and are Java based. As far as a browser, most of the branch offices use IE, even that is going to be replaced with a proprietary highly secure Java browser. We would for the most part like to use Firefox, but because of the GPL, not it's open nature, it just doesn't make sense for us. Firefox's open nature is great, it's adding proprietary security patches without violating the GPL, that has been the issue for us. Legally and ethically. Yes it can be done, but the lawyers are "still reviewing the GPL".
It has so far been my experience that it's the people that are more concerned with how much money they can put in there own pocket today, not what they can do for there company that are the major problem when it comes to business. Eventually the tide will no doubt shift, maybe that will be the best thing to come out of the Novell MS venture, Linux getting more press for whatever reason.

An IE SKIN = Firefox killer???! PULEEEZZEE!!

Anonymous's picture

Seriously.....get a grip.

Re: An IE SKIN = Firefox killer???! PULEEEZZEE!!

Anonymous's picture

I agree. You're being a bit melodramatic.

Maxthon has been out as long as Firefox has. (Maxthon is 2 months older).

Yet, a large chunk of the population has never heard of it.

What's interesting is you're basing your argument on numbers from folks who developed the solution! Wouldn't it be wiser to get numbers from an unbiased third-party?

And you're promoting Maxthon, why?

This is why I hate blogs...98% is all "my 2 cents" of nonsense, and 2% is actually useable and informative. This falls into the attention seeking 98%.

It just reinforces the idea of why most blogs are a waste of time.

I'm not promoting it

Glyn Moody's picture

As far as figures are concerned, see the comment below.

I'm not promoting Maxthon, I'm suggesting that the Firefox community must be careful not to become complacent. Frankly, Firefox 2.0 was pretty dull; if version 3.0 is just as dull, then Firefox will lose momentum. I don't want that to happen, hence the post.

I don't really see what the fuss is all about

Anonymous's picture

I don't really see the news story here. Maxthon has been around for ages (almost seven years under various names), and while it may be better than IE it appears to be aimed at an even more technical audience than Firefox is. In seven years Maxthon/MyIE2 has failed to make any serious impact and I don't see why an update to Trident should change that.
It seems this story has popped up every six months or so for half a decade, always going on about how Maxthon is way better than everything. And it still isn't going anywhere. I've tried it more than a couple of times, and I have to say it has failed to impress me.

And quoting Maxthons own people about their browsers supposed marketshare? Gimme a break. Maxthon has it's own useragent string which makes it possible to check logs for it. My company gets half a million hits from China each month. Maxthon has less than one tenth of one per cent market share in China by my stats.


Glyn Moody's picture

...are always hard to come by. Here's an eWeek article from February 2006 in which a figure for browser share at Baidu is put at 17%: I doubt whether the company would lie in connection with one of the most powerful Net companies in the world (Baidu is the Google of China). It would be interesting to have a corresponding figure now.

Big yawn.

Anonymous's picture

Big yawn.

Yes, seriously

Glyn Moody's picture

It's really much more than a skin, as I've tried to indicate. If I weren't such a fan of Firefox, as much from principle as for pragmatic reasons, I'd probably switch, it's that good.

Everybody involved in coding or promoting Firefox should at least try it to see where the goalposts have moved to.

autdetection of RSS - Live

JHighlander's picture

autdetection of RSS - Live Bookmarks and/or Sage

built in translation - or translator

quick links to google cache - Diggler - use force version compatibility extension first:

mouse gestures as standard - Firefox2 has several competing gesture extensions

plugin for gmail - that' s a 1 minute change to chrome to make right click go to gmail or yahoo mail or..., or use to put a gmail yahoo or whatevermail icon on a toolbar

Blogging quicklinks - firefox2 has plugins for at least 2 dozen blog sites and backends.

As for working with CoComment you are mistaken, or was hoping so few of your readers use both maxthon and CoComment they wouldn't notice you making this up.

CoComment and maxthon are only partially compatible at this time. There is a big warning on's compatibility page above describing how maxthon doesn't work with cocomment, and just below it is a article on how a firefox/flock/netscape greasemonkey script makes it extremely easy to use CoComment with the mozilla forks.

I personally use Opera9 most days, but am sure i have at least 6 browsers installed around here.

Also, firefox has a good anonymous proxy extension , the problem is the extension project has less anonymous proxies available to Chinese users than Maxthon from what i understand.

>> mouse gestures as

Anonymous's picture

>> mouse gestures as standard - Firefox2 has several competing gesture extensions

The actions available for what a gesture does in the various mouse gesture extensions available for FF is severely limited compared to MyIE/Greenbrowser and MyIE2/Maxthon, not to even mention Opera (the benchmark). For example,
the simple act of toggling image download settings. Or Activating a specific action of a plugin/extension.

>> I personally use Opera9 most days, but am sure i have at least 6 browsers installed around here.

Let's see what I have currently installed/unarchived
Alternative Trident shells:
13+ versions of MyIE2/Maxthon (a few betas of MaX 2.0, few 0.x MyIE2 versions)
One version of MyIE/Greenbrowser (AM, Avant,Crazy and Slim never spent too much time here)
Scope, Networker, Sleipnir, TheWorld

Gecko based Browsers:
One each of K-Meleon, Madfox, K-ninja, Gran Paradiso, Mozilla FireBird, Flock, Orca (Gecko build of Avant), a couple nightly builds of Firefox 2.x and 3.0a1/2 ; standard builds and FireFox Musume builds.

10+ Versions of Opera (one each of versions 2 through 9, couple other builds of 7.x and 9.x weekly betas)

Act10, AmayaWX, Lynx, OffByOne

What I use ?
Latest nightly build of FireFox Musume 3.0a for Google Reader (before that Maxthon 1.x built-in RSS reader)
Maxthon 1.5.6 for webmails, forums, slashdot
Latest weekly build of Opera 9.x for almost everything else (which isn't a whole lot)

Naturally everything proxied through Proxomitron.

You prove my point

Glyn Moody's picture

All these are indeed available for Firefox - but you have to install them. I doubt whether many general users would go through the process of hunting them out and installing them. My point is Maxthon comes with them all as standard - whether you ever need them is another matter. In marketing terms, then, Maxthon looks attractive.

As for coComment, I said Maxthon had a plugin: it does. You point out there are issues with it, which I see is true (I don't personally use coComment so I've not tested it); but it's also true there are issues with Opera and even for some users of Firefox, SeaMonkey and IE, judging by the comments here.

I am inclined to agree with

Anonymous's picture

I am inclined to agree with you as far as marketable attractiveness. More features, to the average I don't really care what color that red apple is, user, is more value for the money. So to speak. In a way this is analogous to cars. You can buy the base model civic, and buy the parts that you want to have on it, or you can buy the one that rolls out of the specialty shop, with EVERYTHING already installed. The problem then is, you decide that you don't like having the twin panel moonroof rocket propelled supercharged turbo bobsled, because all the extra bracing makes the car heavy and the mileage suck. Guess what skippy, your stuck with it. Doesn't matter at that point if you want to use it or not.
However it's still the more attractive option up front. I think that the real problem, is that people are getting more and more complacent. Then there are people who use different browsers for different tasks. Still then, there are people who use something other than IE just because. The browser wars will likely never stop, and firefox, may go the way of the Communicator, minus the bloat...
When it does, something will come along to replace it. Maybe even something based on Gecko, who knows. Firefox is a good browser, Opera is a good browser, IE is IE, they will all see there end eventually. The last one to go will be the one that can really wow, the average everyday user. If you can make a browser of a high enough quality that people would pay for the privelege of using it, and you then give it away, the war will be over.


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