“The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.” – George Eliot

Continuing our series of summer updates I’m proud to announce the forthcoming release of Mozilla Firefox onto our corporate desktops. For a long time we have only provided support for Internet Explorer but with there now being a viable alternative we are going to be giving our staff and students a choice about which browser they use.

Firefox is one of the biggest software success stories of recent time. When it entered the market Microsoft had pretty much beaten back Netscape and the other 3rd party browsers with only Safari (due to it being the standard on Apple Macs) showing any kind of competition. Development of IE had slowed down significantly and versions 5-6 showed no massive changes except for security features. It was at this stage that Firefox entered the arena and proved an instant hit in the IT technical community. It’s wonderful features such as modular add-ons and tabbed browsing made IE 6 look completely outdated and soon had Microsoft racing to compete again.

During the time before IE7 was released Firefox took a large market share away from Microsoft’s browser and showed that people really did think about what they wanted from their web surfing tools. Despite this Firefox still remained quite fringe with the majority of home and corporate users unaware of their options or content to stick with what they knew. The lack of support for roaming bookmarks and limited security lockdowns made Firefox difficult to deploy in a business environment, until recently that is…

After lots of discussion and trials IT Services are finally in a position where we can offer Firefox with the same security as we provide for IE. While we still haven’t achieved success using roaming bookmarks (favorites) we feel that we can now offer Firefox up as an option. IE will still remain the default browser but staff and students will be able to pick Firefox from their network programs list if they want to use it. As Mike showed in his recent post Firefox usage is still growing significantly in some areas, it is our hope that we will see a lot of users trying it out. A lot of companies are now looking at Firefox as an option, even Dell are considering pre-installing on the computers they sell.

In my personal opinion Firefox is a fantastic browser, I still use Internet Explorer for a few things but I tend to use Firefox 90% of the time both in work and home (I’m using it right now to write this post actually!). My advise would be: Exercise your choice, try Firefox!

7 thoughts on ““The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.” – George Eliot

  1. Hi Asa, really great to have you commenting on here! Thanks for the link, I hadn’t encountered Foxmarks before. I had looked at something similar but with our students moving from computer to computer so frequently and our policy of moving for a single sign-on approach it seemed like adding a layer of complexity. Being able to host your own server with Foxmarks sounds quite interesting and might make it workable for us.

    We have had some success in moving personal settings to a network share but it involved all the profile settings not just bookmarks and the resultant storage load would have a massive impact with 19,000+ potential users all eating several meg of space each, just to run the browser. We are still hoping to find a way to do this or that a future release might include roaming as I know it has been mentioned.

  2. Just read the stuff about running your own Foxmarks server. Setting up WebDAV on a server would be pretty easy and that way we’d be able to integrate it with GO to get access to your bookmarks from anywhere. Sounds like a pretty neat solution.

  3. For the initial release we won’t be bundling anything with it. There are a few I really like (such as Ad-block) but I think we should see what our users want once it’s out in the environment. As it stands everyone will be able to use add-ons. I know some places are concerned by this but I think it’s one of the best functions of the browser and to restrict it takes away a big part of it’s key features

    The fact is we have a lot of people already using Firefox just without any of our corporate settings enforced. The purpose of the roll-out is really to secure the copies that currently exist and to allow users who haven’t seen it before to give it a go and see what they think.

  4. Stuart, the good news is that it’s pretty easy to set up your own FoxMarks server. I believe it’s just a webdav server. The even better news is that Firefox will be making this all a lot easier in future releases.

    – A

  5. Stuart,

    Are you using a system to set up individual settings? If so, you can set the pref, browser.bookmarks.file to the name of your network drive.

    For example, if you have a network drive called M:, you can set:

    pref(“browser.bookmarks.file”, “M:\\bookmarks.html”);

    This will set set the bookmarks to be stored as bookmarks.html in the root of the M: drive (double slashes are deliberate!).

    Feel free to email me if you want any advice regards rolling out Firefox in your University – I’ve been doing it for a few years now!

    Mark Sammons,
    Desktop Services,
    University of Edinburgh

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