Firefox surges

Mozilla’s open source browser experienced a healthy boost in popularity last week on the back of a new release and security concerns about Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

On Friday the Mozilla Foundation released version 3.6 of the popular open source browser and by Monday morning almost 12 million copies of the latest version had been downloaded. At the time of writing on Monday morning, 11 921 680 copies of Firefox 3.6 had been downloaded according to the Firefox download-tracking site. An average of around 42 downloads per second were being recorded on Monday morning.

The majority of downloads were from the US where close to 2.5 million copies had been downloaded over the weekend. This was followed by Germany (1.5 million copies), Brazil (640 000), France (580 000) and Japan (414 000). South Africa had recorded just over 18 000 copies downloaded over the weekend. In comparison Morocco recorded in excess of 31 000 downloads in the same period. South Africa was listed as number 55 in the total number of downloads by country.

Firefox 3.6 is a significant upgrade for web users and includes a number of new features including personas for customising Firefox’s appearance, many new HTML5 features including geolocation, CSS gradients, native video and the new Web Open Font Format for including fonts in web designs.

Extra boost

While most of the downloads of Firefox 3.6 are likely to be done by existing Firefox users, the browser also received a additional boost in the past week when new security flaws were revealed in opponent Internet Explorer. The security risks in IE prompted the German government to recommend web users adopt another browser to protect themselves when online.

The result was a significant increase in downloads of alternative browsers, most particularly Firefox. According to the Sydney Morning Herald Mozilla said that it had seen an increase of more than 300 000 downloads of its browser in Germany over a four-day period following the warning. Norway-based Opera also reported an increase in downloads following the warning.

Microsoft said at the time that the flaws in IE were insignificant but they did issue a security update for IE on Thursday last week.

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Firefox surges