Mozilla has begun pushing the last nail in Firefox 1.5's coffin. On 28 June 2007, Mozilla has begun distributing the automatic updates to Firefox 2.0
to all users of Firefox 1.5. In this manner, the Foundation steps in the footprints of Microsoft. The Redmond company debuted automatic updates of Internet Explorer 7 back in mid November 2006, following the October availability of the browser. Although Firefox 2.0 was launched in the vicinity of IE7, Mozilla has postponed the automated distribution of its latest version of the open source browser after
support ended for Firefox 1.5.
On May 30, Mozilla - after a couple of postponements - revealed that the 188.8.131.52 security and stability update was going to be the last refresh for version 1.5 of Firefox. With this move, the Foundation left some 3.80% of browser users out to dry, as they failed to move to Firefox 2.0 in time. The update rollup designed to force migration is in fact a strategy designed to enable Mozilla to keep a hold of its installed base and browser market share.
In the month when Firefox 1.5 was set to expire, Mozilla experienced a market share erosion of approximately 1%, dropping from 15.42% to 14.54% in May. This is unprecedented for Firefox, as the open source browser has been on a continuous ascendant trajectory for over a year, in the detriment of Internet Explorer. By Contrast, Internet Explorer saw an uptake in May, growing to 78.67% from just 78.03% in the previous month. Internet Explorer 7 was largely responsible for the modest share growth, jumping from 30.56% in April to 31.26% in the past month.
The support expiration date for Firefox 1.5 could not have come at a worse time. In June, Apple transitioned its Safari 3 browser, as a public beta, on Windows Vista and Windows XP. The Windows platform is becoming an increasingly crowded space for browsers, and it is expected that Safari adoption will hurt both Firefox 2.0 and Internet Explorer 7.
Microsoft cannot pull a support expiration stunt for Internet Explorer 6, even in the context of IE7. The fact of the matter is that IE6 still holds the lion's share of the browser market with 46.76%. Additionally, IE6 is tied to the support of Windows XP Service Pack 2. This means that IE6 could live to see 2010, two years after the release of XP SP3.